Nordic M​atters

Southbank Centre announces today the first details of Nordic Matters – a year-long exploration of Nordic arts and culture throughout 2017. The programme will embed Nordic culture and artists in Southbank Centre’s year-long artistic offer and annual festivals and provide a platform to some of the more ‘hidden voices’ from Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, as well as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This is the first time that Southbank Centre has programmed a year-long festival dedicated to one region of the world and around a third of artists, authors and performers participating in events at Southbank Centre during 2017 will be from the Nordic region.

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A particular emphasis will be placed on three main themes influenced by Nordic identity and society: play fostering curiosity and creativity, for people of all ages but especially children and young people; sustainability; and gender equality. Audiences will be able to experience and explore this cultural connection through an extensive programme of music, dance, theatre, literature, spoken word, design, visual art, talks & debates, fashion and food.

Programme highlights to include:

  • The first major UK exhibition devoted to The Moomins and the world of their creator, Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson : Adventures in Moominland (16 December 2016 – 23 April 2017)
  • Winter Festival supported by NatWest features Nordic site design, over 300 trees and giant ‘gonks’
  • Nordic artists, writers, musicians & performers featured include: Leif Ove Andsnes, Apocalyptica, José G onzález & The String Theory, Henna-Riikka Halonen, Jeppe Hein, Jesper Just, Anssi Karttunen, Pekka Kuusisto, Moddi, Anu Partanen, Outi Pieski, Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Sjón, Maja Sten, Andreas Tophøj & Rune Barslund, Sandi Toksvig, Ingrid Torvund and more to be announced
  • Site installations including: a Sauna, Outi Pieski ́s Falling Shawls, Mo rten Søndergaard’s Wall of Dreams, and North Sami Pavilion – an architectural collaboration with Umea University Sweden
  • The first iteration outside the Nordic region of contemporary music festival Nordic Music Days
  • A new anthology of Nordic literature commissioned to coincide with London International Literature Festival Participation activities ranging from mass feasts and a flat pack hack to a Learning through Play workshop hosted by a LEGO® team

Chosen from a number of international applicants, Southbank Centre is the sole recipient of a grant from The Nordic Council of Ministers to facilitate this year-long festival of the very best of Nordic art and culture – one of the biggest cultural-political partnerships of its kind.

Jude Kelly CBE, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: "It is a great honour for the UK and Southbank Centre to have been chosen to host Nordic Matters in 2017. The Nordic countries have long been at the forefront of social change, from championing young people’s rights to environmental concerns and gender equality, and their enlightened approach to culture and education chimes with Southbank Centre’s own belief in the power of the arts to transform lives. We are delighted that this year-long partnership will enable us to present a truly authentic cultural exchange showcasing the richness and diversity of the Nordic countries, including the lesser known Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands. In an ever-changing world, it is even more crucial that we celebrate the ways in which culture can bring us together, rather than driving us apart. Let the collaborations commence.”

The Nordic Council of Ministers, said: "Nordic Council of Ministers is proud to collaborate with Southbank Centre on the Nordic Matters initiative. It is an excellent way to facilitate and showcase Nordic art and culture abroad - especially in the context of gender equality, sustainability, and children and youth. Cultural exchange between participating Nordic artists and British artists and audiences is a central and important feature of Nordic Matters. With a venture of this nature and size we can put our shared Nordic values and culture under the microscope and hope to be able to both inspire and be inspired beyond the borders of the Nordic Region. We might even learn something about ourselves and the links between the Nordic countries.”

Southbank Centre welcomes in the Nordic year during 2016’s Winter Festival supported by NatWest, as the 21-acre site is transformed into a Nordic landscape designed by Hemingway Design, complete with hundreds of Christmas trees, including a sky-high Norwegian tree, larger than life ‘Gonks’ - mythological Nordic Christmas trolls, Stockholm’s Musikgymnasium Choir singing traditional Lucia songs, and the return of the bustling Winter Market including The Rekorderlig Cider Lodge. Winter 2016 also marks the opening of Adventures in Moominland, the UK’s first major exhibition devoted to The Moomins and the world of their creator, artist and author Tove Jansson (from 16 December 2016).

Nordic Matters then begins on 13 January 2017 with a weekend of fika and fun for all ages, featuring a Learning through Play workshop hosted by a LEGO team, 15 minute ‘bites’ on Nordic mythology with Icelandic poet, novelist, and lyricist Sjón, folk music and storytelling from Norwegian musician and social activist Moddi, a flat pack hack, mass cinnamon bun bake-off, and Nordic chefs giving expert advice on sustainable food preservation. A programme of talks and panels explore three main themes that will provide the backbone to the year: play, gender equality, and sustaina bility, with speakers including Anu Partanen, author of The Nordic Theory of Everything (2016). Video and film works by Nordic artists will be shown throughout the weekend, and the Royal Festival Hall foyers will be transformed by the work of Sami artist Outi Pieski with her installation Falling Shawls.
 
Nordic art, artists and themes will be embedded in Southbank Centre’s year-long artistic offer throughout 2017, featuring musicians Esa-Pekka Salonen, José González, Leif Ove Andsnes, Pekka Kuusisto, Moddi, Apocalyptica, Viki ngur Olafsson, Andreas Tophøj & Rune Barslund, artists Outi Pieski, Morten Søndergaard, Jeppe Hein, films and videos by Jesper Just, Henna-Riikka Halonen, Ingrid Torvund, performance companies including Nordic Puppet Ambassadors, and many more to be announced.

Southbank Centre’s flagship festivals have a specific Nordic focus during 2017: Imagine Children’s Festival (9–19 February), WOW–Women of the World (7–12 March), Festival of Love (3 June–28 August), Chorus (July), London Literature Festival (13–29 October), BAM–Being A Man (24–26 November) all delve deeper into the core themes of children and young people, gender equality and sustainability. Royal Festival Hall also welcomes the first iteration of leading Nordic contemporary music festival Nordic Music Days (28 September–1 October). One of the world’s oldest music festivals, founded in 1888, Nordic Music Days showcases pioneering performances by living Nordic composers performed by leading ensembles and soloists from the UK and the Nordic region.

Across the year, a number of additional education and learning projects will draw on Nordic influences and initiatives including a specially-designed outdoor playground installed during Festival of Love (3 June–28 August) and International Day of the Girl 2017 will be twinned with schools in the Nordic region (11 Oct).

Summary of Nordic Matters highlights below

The world of acclaimed Finnish author Tove Jansson and The Moomins is brought to life in a major new immersive, interactive exhibition Adventures in Moominland. The exhibition presents new insights into Jansson’s life and the influences behind her work with rare archive objects and illustrations built into the experience, featuring theatrical sets, a script by Laura Dockrill and narration by Sandi Toksvig (16 Dec 2016–23 Apr 2017).

Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival supported by NatWest sees the 21 acre site transformed into a winter landscape with a Nordic feel, designed by Hemingway Design, featuring hundreds of Christmas trees, including a sky-high Norwegian tree, larger than life gonks - mythological Nordic Christmas creatures, walks of twinkling lights, Stockholm’s Musikgymnasium Choir singing traditional Lucia songs, and the return of the bustling Winter Market including The Rekorderlig Cider Lodge (11 Nov 2016–25 Jan 2017).

Opening Weekend: A weekend of feasting, fika and fun for all ages opens Nordic Matters proper on 13 January 2017. A programme of talks and panels explore three main themes that will provide the backbone to the year: children and young people, gender equality, and sustainability, with speakers including Anu Partanen, author of The Nordic Theory of Everything. Workshops include a flat pack hack, a Learning through Play session hosted by a LEGO team, 15 minute ‘bites’ on Nordic mythology with Icelandic poet, novelist, and lyricist Sjón, a mass cinnamon bun bake-off, and Nordic chefs giving expert advice on sustainable food preservation. Norwegian musician and social activist Moddi performs a blend of folk music and pop, with well-crafted storytelling. Recent video and film works by Nordic artists including Jesper Just, Henna-Riikka Halonen, and Ingrid Torvund, will be shown throughout the weekend (13–14 Jan 2017).

Sami artist Outi Pieski transforms the Royal Festival Hall foyers with her year-long installation Falling Shawls which goes on show from the opening weekend. Made by traditional Sami shawl-making techniques, the installation combines hundreds of fringe elements to create a coloured three-dimensional drawing. Sami people are the indigenous people of Scandinavia and the traditional handicraft duodji has still significant and powerful meaning today. Falling Shawls is inspired by the gathering of Sami people, in what can be seen as a nomadic monument to the common struggle of individuals in their colonial history (opens 13 Jan 2017).

Nordic Puppet Ambassadors present Only One Suitcase Allowed (part of London International Mime Festival) a fusion of object theatre and live installation inspired by the story of Anne Frank. A performance for one spectator at a time, visitors peer into a miniature world in a fifteen minute journey where a safe, familiar environment gradually turns hostile (27–29 Jan 2017) 

Imagine Children’s Festival will have a strong focus on the Nordic approach to play and imagination. The festival, now in its 16th year, takes over the Royal Festival Hall for two weeks with theatre, dance, music, theatre and installations alongside readings and workshops with top children’s authors from the UK and the Nordic region. Highlights include den-making, a focus on children’s theatre from Denmark, Finland and Sweden, Nordic Nonsense Poetry and Nordic Storytime readings, and Swedish illustrator Maja Sten working with patients at Evelina Children's Hospital to create new illustrations for Imagine Festival inspired by their imaginary friends (9–19 Feb 2017).

WOW - Women of the World festival returns for its seventh year in 2017 alongside the first WOW Finland, collaborating on talks with live link-ups during the weekend. With Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th respectively in the Global Gender Gap Index, WOW takes this opportunity to celebrate the Nordic countries, and congratulate and applaud the fearlessness and determination to prioritise gender equality. The festival also lifts the covers and examines what is underneath, where backlash has arisen, and who is left out of the conversation. Other highlights during the festival include the annual Mirth Control going Nordic with Sandi Toksvig (7–12 Mar 2017).

Festival of Love takes over the 21-acre Royal Festival Hall site with a summer-long programme featuring performances, music, installations and design from Nordic artists. Highlights include Outi Pieski’s Falling Shawls in Royal Festival Hall foyers, Jeppe Hein’s ‘Modified Social Benches’, North Sami Pavilion – an architectural collaboration with Umea University Sweden, and lift lobby installations (3 Jun–28 Aug 2017).

Chorus festival celebrates the power of the voice and the spirit of communal singing. The festival features a Royal Festival Hall concert with a choir from each Nordic country, performing together with a specially-formed Voicelab choir of Nordic diaspora singers in the UK. Free foyer performances of Nordic choirs will be heard throughout the weekend, as well as opportunities to join in with workshops exploring traditional and contemporary Nordic vocal music (Jul 2017).

Leading contemporary music festival Nordic Music Days takes place outside of the Nordic region for the first time. One of the world’s oldest music festivals, founded in 1888, Nordic Music Days showcases pioneering performances by Nordic composers performed by leading ensembles and soloists from Great Britain and the Nordic region (28 Sep–1 Oct 2017).

The classical music programme during 2017 features a number of Nordic artists and events programmed by Southbank Centre Resident Orchestras. London Sinfonietta presents Nordic Nights - an evening of work by Nordic composers Eivind Buene, Kaija Saariaho a nd Rolf Wallin and featuring musicians Peter Herresthal, Guro Kleven Hagen, and Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad (6 Jun). London Philharmonic Orchestra performs new works by Composer in Residence Magnus Lindberg : Cello Concerto No. 2 (UK premiere) with cellist Anssi Karttunen and conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste (22 Mar) and ‘Two Episodes’ (6 May). Additionally, the 2017/18 season will have a distinctly Nordic theme, including specially- programmed concerts from Resident Orchestra the Philharmonia Orchestra and its Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and featuring violinist Pekka Kuusisto, pianists Vikingur Olafsson and Leif Ove Andsnes, and more - full details to be announced in January 2017.

Additional music highlights include Swedish singer-songwriter José González & The String Theory (24 Jan), leading Danish folk musicians Andreas Tophøj and Rune Barslund performing an array of captivating tunes with the violin, accordion and viola (17 Feb), Finnish quartet Apocalyptica presenting an evening of heavy metal played on cellos (1 Mar), and more to be announced.

International Day of the Girl 2017 sees Southbank Centre twin schools in the UK with schools in the Nordic countries for a day of activities celebrating the potential of women and girls (11 Oct 2017).

London International Literature Festival will have a Nordic focus in 2017, featuring leading Nordic authors, a Nordic-focussed Poetry International in celebration of its 50th anniversary, a specially-commissioned Nordic Anthology, and Wall of Dreams, a large-scale projection of testimonies and dreams onto the Royal Festival Hall, in collaboration with Danish artist Morten Søndergaard. The project will mirror a previous Søndergaard work in which he interviewed inhabitants of a council estate on the outskirts of Copenhagen about their dreams and created a permanent installation based on their responses.The work is now a landmark of the neighbourhood and received numerous awards in Denmark. (13–29 Oct 2017).

Winter 2017 will have an increased Nordic presence with an on-site Sauna created in collaboration with architecture students, social dances including Finnish Tango, mass knitting, gingerbread sculptures, and music from all Nordic regions (opening Dec 2017).

Throughout 2017, Southbank Centre shops will present a range of merchandise and gifts from across the Nordic regions. Additionally, a special pop-up exhibition shop will be in place during Adventures in Moominland, in collaboration with Moominshop.

Nordic gastronomy will be showcased and featured throughout the culinary calendar at Southbank Centre. Nordic produce and street food, and an exciting line up of Nordic inspired pop ups, will form part of the summer series of food markets on Queen's Walk at Royal Festival Hall.

#ENDS#

Tickets for Adventures in Moominland and the opening weekend will go on sale to Southbank Centre members on 2 November and to the general public on 3 November. www.southbankcentre.co.uk / 0844 847 9910

For further press information please contact:

Naomi Burgoyne, Senior Press Manager, Southbank Centre naomi.burgoyne@southbankcentre.co.uk / 0207 921 0824

Notes to editors

About Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21 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 Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection.

Southbank Centre is carrying out vital restoration work on the Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room to make the buildings fit for future generations to enjoy.

About The Nordic Council of Ministers

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official inter governmental body for co operation in the Nordic Region. The Council brings together representatives of the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Norway Finland and Iceland, as well as the three autonomous areas, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland Islands. The Presidency of the Nordic Council rotates between the five Nordic countries and is currently held by Finland. In 2017 Norway will hold the Presidency. www.norden.org

About Nordic Matters

Nordic Matters is a year-long festival of Nordic art and culture in 2017 at London's Southbank Centre, featuring music, dance, theatre, visual arts, participation, talks and debates, and gastronomy. Chosen from a number of international applicants, Southbank Centre is the sole recipient of a grant from The Nordic Council of Ministers for a new festival celebrating the very best of Nordic art and culture throughout 2017 – one of the biggest cultural-political partnerships of its kind. A particular emphasis will be placed on the idea of play fostering curiosity and creativity, for people of all ages but especially children and young people. Moving beyond popular perceptions of ‘Nordic Noir’ the programme is designed to embed Nordic culture and artists in Southbank Centre’s year-long artistic offer and offer a platform to some of the more ‘hidden voices’ from Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands.

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