Peony Gent: Overlay

A free outdoor art exhibition by our sixth Illustrator in Residence about the King’s Cross that inspired her.

When, Where

  • Pancras Square, King's Cross

Poet and illustrator Peony Gent makes comics like you’ve never seen before: delicately drawn meditations on memory and gentle examinations of things usually ignored.

In the months leading up to the pandemic, Gent began to map the area around King’s Cross, noting traces of its history in its memorials and industrial architecture while observing the fleeting moments of the ever-moving present: friends meeting in Coal Drops Yard, shopkeepers at work in Caledonian Road and the urgent flow of commuters.

In this free outdoor exhibition, Gent presents a series of 29 works drawn from her observations of this recent past. Her illustrations of momentary scenes in this central London neighbourhood are combined with poems written in response to her own mapping of the area, as well as the memories of those who have lived and worked in King’s Cross over the years.

Alongside the drawings are comics that record resonant encounters: a poignant chance conversation with a piano player at St Pancras station, and memories of a hot afternoon on Crofters Way. To Gent, these moments are the latest layer of King’s Cross’ history, one in which people’s everyday experiences are a vital part.

The exhibition is part of The Outside Art Project, which turns King’s Cross into one of the largest outdoor gallery spaces in London, with a year-round programme of always-on, always-free, and always open art on the streets of N1C. Overlay is made up of 15 seating benches dotted throughout the open space of Pancras Square. The benches are 2 metres wide and each display two artworks.

Find out more about Peony Gent's residency on our blog. Read our Q&A with the artist and see the work in progress that led to the exhibition.

Inspired to make your own comics, or to get the kids to have a go? Peony Gent created a family activity for us, Creating Memory Comics, and a Key Stage 2 teaching resource pack, Comics in the Curriculum.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Barbara and Philip Denny Trust.