The friendly and vibrant Southbank Centre hosts hundreds of musicians, artists and performers every summer – but this summer is even more special. This summer will bring the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Neighbourhood, a colourful celebration of neighbourliness, exploring what it really means to live side by side. Contributions from local, national and international communities and artists have helped compile the assortment of art installations, performances, talks, gardens and exhibitions that create the three-month long festival.
The transformation of the Centre’s 21-area site is remarkable. Southbank’s ‘neighbourhood’ has been fitted out with orchards and gardens, murals, graffiti art and brightly painted sculptures and installations made of everything from foliage and concrete to wheelbarrows and doorbells. Amongst all this sits Beanotown, an iconic (if imaginary) neighbourhood filled with dastardly delights created to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Beano comic. The Royal Festival Hall itself boasts a rooftop collection of 42 flags from artists Bob & Roberta Smiths, covered with questions spurring you to consider your own ideas of neighbourhood and community.
The festival’s programme includes archive photography exhibition Lambeth Treasures, an exhibition dedicated to mapping the incredible 2000 year-old cultural history of Lambeth. Performances are also in demand, with family circus troop Cirque Alfonse’s Timber!, a daring and acrobatic display involving lumberjack saws, and a world premiere of youth dance company ZooNation’s Groove Down The World retelling The Wizard of Oz with a hip-hop twist. Another highlight is cultural icon Yoko Ono’s Meltdown, a collection of music and film featuring artists from all over the globe in a dedication to music, feminism, environmentalism and peace activism.
In fact, the list of wonders taking place during the Festival of Neighbourhood seems nearly inexhaustible. If there was ever a time to get into the neighbourly spirit then now is it! The next few months at Southbank don’t just offer a wealth of fun cultural goings-on but a real close-up look at what makes a good neighbourhood, and what we can do to be better neighbours to each other – not just in Southbank, but everywhere we go. (Words: Nori Bell-Bhuiyan)
On until September 8th. For more information visit: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/festival-of-neighbourhood