A new Southbank Centre exhibition, Concrete Dreams, is announced today, bringing to life the creative spirit of iconic arts venues, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room and celebrating their public reopening after two years of extensive restoration and redesign.
The immersive audio-visual backstage journey sees a discovery of the rich history and behind the scenes secrets of the venues, including Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery which opened in January this year, through previously unseen archives. Free hourly tours will take place from Tuesday 10 April — Sunday 29 April 2018. The exhibition culminates in a special three days of performances by artists who share a history with Southbank Centre’s venues, in a Concrete Dreams Weekend from Friday 27 — Sunday 29 April 2018.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, thanks to National Lottery players, and designed by innovative theatre company Klanghaus and design practice LYN Atelier, the exhibition investigates the history of these cutting-edge, creative Brutalist buildings with an exclusive glimpse into the world of the performer, on intimate tours transforming the audience into the artist. Entering through the Queen Elizabeth Hall artists’ entrance, audiences will follow in the footsteps of all the legendary artists who performed on these stages at the start of their careers in the swinging 60s, with a soundscape roll call from Pink Floyd to Cleo Laine and Daniel Barenboim. After collecting their stage pass, visitors are given rare access backstage, travelling through the working scene dock, visiting an artists’ lounge, experiencing pre-concert jitters in the dressing rooms and ending on a surprise finale.
Audiences will discover unique archives in the most unusual places, and a flow of voices from the past and present. Highlights include 60s and early 70s archives of live performance footage, poetry recordings and print materials from stars including Deep Purple, London Sinfonietta, Imrat Khan, Tyrannosaurus Rex, David Bowie and dancer Celeste Dandeker, founder of Candoco Dance Company. Also featured will be special live film footage of the very first performance of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (1973) and the seminal performance of Schubert’s Trout Quintet in 1967, featuring Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim, all historical moments revealing these buildings’ diverse artistic work. Original architect Denis Crompton gives his personal account of constructing the conceptually experimental venues, added to by present day architect Richard Battye of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios who has led the recent two year restoration.
Concrete Dreams captures the spirit and heritage of Southbank Centre’s 1960s buildings and their artistic beginnings - from a bathroom where Hayward Gallery’s Kinetic psychedelia shines through into dressing room mirrors, to previously unseen terse correspondence between London County Council and the venues’ young architects, and early original photography and architect blueprints from 1961. Over 1000 images of personal dressing room door signs are revealed, made exclusively for the first performances of up and coming stars. Audiences will encounter a very young bongo playing Mark Bolan with John Peel, and will be able to leaf through production notes scribbled on programmes from the very first concerts by John Williams, Itzhak Perlman and the evolving folk revival including The Spinners, exhibiting the creative curiosity, collaboration and experimentation that are the ethos of these venues.
Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London said: “From Bowie to Brutalism, this exhibition, funded by National Lottery players, celebrates a triumphant age of post-war ambition for a new tomorrow... writ large! Truly, a festival building as pioneering as the musicians it inspired. And Southbank Centre is just that; a gloriously confident concrete jewel for us all to savour.”
Rachel Harris, Creative Producer Southbank Centre says: “Concrete Dreams is a celebration of the vision of these unique buildings that were at once ground-breaking and pragmatic, emerging from the idea that the artists and audiences were a living part of the architecture. It tells the stories of the individuals who poured their passion to do things differently into the concrete and remembers the artists who have contributed to the site's history, leaving a thrilling legacy. To complement the exhibition, a selection of performers whose work is intrinsic to the buildings – our artistic family – join us for the Concrete Dreams Weekend. Over three days of live performance and participation established artists and next generation innovators lay down the blueprint for the next 50 years.”
Concrete Dreams Weekend, Friday 27 – Sunday 29 April, encapsulates three full days of inspiring live performances and participation, with every inch of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room filled with music, dance, workshops and talks celebrating the dynamic and vivid performance history of the 1960's buildings, whilst looking firmly to the future.
A multitude of free events includes 60s Big Sing, a participatory vocal performance workshop celebrating songs of the 60s – from Bowie to Pink Floyd. Sitting side by side with iconic historic performances are new works inspired by the refurbished venue, including responses to the new foyer area. These include a new collaborative contemporary dance and music piece Our Veranda, performed by Freddie Opoku-Addaie, a new music composition Echoes in Time: Drake Music and dance company Corali’s new work 9 Windows Reimagined.
Other Concrete Dreams Weekend highlights include:
an in-conversation with folk singer Sam Lee and folk legend Shirley Collins
a late night concert of Sam Lee’s unique Singing With Nightingales
Rambert Dance, who originally rehearsed in the foyer of QEH in the 60s, returning to the foyer for a family workshop
Fifty Poems from Five Decades – with ten of the finest poets writing in the UK today, including Simon Armitage and Caleb Femi
performances of South Asian dance, electronica, pop, Indian classical music, western classical music and jazz
The Concrete Dreams exhibition opens to the public on Tuesday 10 April and Concrete Dreams Weekend runs from Friday 27 – Sunday 29 April. Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room reopen to the public on Monday 9 April.
CONCRETE DREAMS PRESS TOURS: TUESDAY 10 APRIL Press tours – to book please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Full details on Southbank Centre's website
For more information or to buy tickets please visit the Southbank Centre website or call 020 3879 9555
For images relating to the Concrete Dreams Exhibition and Weekend please refer to this link
For further press information and interview requests please contact Deborah Goodman, DGPR email@example.com / 020 8959 9980 / 07958 611218
Join the Conversation: @southbankcentre
Both Concrete Dreams and the Southbank Centre archive are possible thanks to generous funding from players of the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England also funded the restoration of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery along with donations from Southbank Centre friends, trusts and foundations supporting the Let The Light In campaign.
About Southbank Centre Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 17-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery as well as The National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.
About Heritage Lottery Fund Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported and #NationalLottery.
About Klanghaus KlangHaus re-invites the gig-going experience as a site-responsive close-up promenade theatrical performance that regenerates for each building it occupies. Akin to a duet with the building, it confronts the conventions of audience and musician separation, a 360-degree, immersive experience bringing (often disused or little seen) buildings to life through live music, sound design, projected images and glimpsed vignettes. KlangHaus sold out at the Edinburgh Festival, 41 shows at the Royal Festival Hall and memorable performances in Colchester and Norwich. Plans are currently being finalised for further dates in 2018. KlangHaus is a partnership between art-rock collective The Neutrinos and visual artist Sal Pittman. klanghaus.co
'The most innovative presentation of live music I’ve ever seen’ The Guardian ‘Throbbing art-punk noise and sexy urgent energy’ Time Out New York
About LYN Atelier LYN Atelier is an architecture and design practice, creating engaging buildings, structures, narratives and environments. We have designed exhibitions, interactive installations, buildings, commercial interiors and environments for the public realm. We bring particular understanding of the built environment and the public realm to the arts and culture sector. Clients include: Southbank Centre, The Royal Academy, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The LLDC, The British Library and The Barbican Centre amongst others. www.lynatelier.com