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diane arbus: in the beginning Exhibition Poster

The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, 2012, by Kader Attia

Kader Attia’s vast installation, The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, is the result of many years of research into the concept of repair. Resembling an immense archive or museum storeroom, it explores different attitudes towards repair found in Western and non-Western cultures. 

Installation view of Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion, Hayward Gallery, 2019. Photo: Linda Nylind

Displayed on the shelves and in the three vitrines are hundreds of objects, including African masks, vintage photographs, books, newspapers and a series of decorative, functional and devotional objects constructed by soldiers during the First World War. Exhibited alongside these objects are a series of busts commissioned by the artist and made by craftsmen in Senegal, West Africa, and Carara, Italy. 

In the slide show that forms part of this installation, Attia pairs images of soldiers treated to early, rudimentary plastic surgery with African masks and objects bearing signs of physical repair – an unsettling series of juxtapositions that challenges our conventional ideas about wholeness, injury, beauty and otherness.




Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion is at Hayward Gallery until 6 May 2019

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Introducing the 19th-century Horn

Introducing the 19th Century Horn

Why play a contemporary instrument when you perform music written for old instruments? Roger Montgomery, principal horn player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, introduces his new 19th-century style horn, made by former OAE player Andrew Clark.

Where possible, OAE musicians play authentic instruments from the era of the music they perform. However, in some cases, this isn’t possible as a 100-year-old instrument is rarely at the peak of its playing condition, and, most importantly, these instruments are pieces of history that need to be preserved.

Find out more about this remarkable instrument in this video from OAE.

In the 19th century, players such as Franz Strauss were starting to use the B flat single horn, as a way of making things easier for themselves.
Roger Montgomery, of the OAE, on the history of the horn

Hear Montgomery perform the full Konzertstück for Four Horns with this instrument, conducted by Sir András Schiff, in the OAE’s Brahms Piano Concerto concert in Royal Festival Hall on Monday 18 March 2019.

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Diane Arbus: An interview with Jeff L. Rosenheim and Karan Rinaldo

Katie Guggenheim, Hayward Gallery assistant curator, discusses Arbus’ early photographs with Jeff L. Rosenheim, the curator of diane arbus: in the beginning and Karan Rinaldo, Collections Specialist, Photographs, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Katie Guggenheim: Jeff, you have curated this exhibition. What can we expect to see?

Jeff L. Rosenheim: Most people know Diane Arbus from her late work, but this exhibition looks at her beginnings. In this exhibition we can see a great artist at work – one of the most provocative picture makers of the period in any medium – and we can see how she started out. It’s extraordinary to see how mature Arbus was when she picked up a camera aged 33 and hit the streets of the city looking for signs of life. She was looking at the world in a pretty special way, and she asked questions that other artists didn’t. Some of those questions were existential: ‘Who am I and how do I become the person I want to be?’ Arbus used photography to explore those questions and she sought out people that she could share that experience with. It is those relationships that are in the pictures. 


Karan, you have done a lot of research into the locations and people that Arbus photographed. What are some of the subjects that we can see in these early pictures?

Karan Rinaldo: Arbus spent a lot of time on the streets of New York photographing people: children and women in particular and street characters like the street preacher who features in one of the photographs (Man yelling in Times Square, N.Y.C. 1958). As she found her way and her confidence as an independent photographer she went into different spaces and pursued different ideas. She spent time at Hubert’s Museum in Times Square and at Coney Island, and then she went further into private spaces, such as people’s homes. She photographed inside movie houses, which was not a common practice.


When Arbus was making these photographs in the late 1950s and early 1960s what set her apart from her contemporaries?

JR: What distinguishes Arbus’ photographs is not her subject matter, although most people think it is. What most distinguishes it and what makes it so powerful and poignant and emotional is how she worked with the camera – she allowed herself to be implicated in the process. 

Most photographers of her generation and the generation before her – people like Paul Strand,  Walker Evans and Robert Frank (who was a peer) – were very careful to not have any direct interactions with their subjects. Helen Levitt also made pictures on the street but she followed the Henri Cartier-Bresson mode of photography: get in, get out quickly, don’t get hurt. Arbus wanted to get hurt. She wanted that confrontation. 

Arbus was not just an observer, she was an active participant with the subjects in the making of the picture. I believe that as often as she chose her subjects, they chose her and that, psychologically, is extremely interesting. She was patient in a way that almost all of those other photographers were not. For Arbus the experience of engaging with her subjects was what she was looking for. She was not trying to steal a picture. She wanted everyone to know what she was doing. 


How and in what ways did she engage with her subjects?

KR: Arbus used the camera as a tool to interact with people. She was interested in engaging them beyond what happened inside the camera. 

JR: She would meet someone in a cafe and make a picture and then the next thing you know is that they are sitting together in an apartment and there is a picture of them there. Arbus is one of the only photographers of her generation who photographed the same individual over a decade-long period.

Photography is a recording medium and a visual art but most often, at least in street photography, it is used as a one-time interaction with a subject. Arbus slows time down and it’s a fascinating thing. I think her photographs make us question what the rules of engagement are and what the camera is for. The other photographers of her generation were making some similar observations but they were hiding – she always accepted the consequences of her actions.


Arbus used the camera as a tool to interact with people. She was interested in engaging them beyond what happened inside the camera.
Karan Rinaldo, Collections Specialist, Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are several striking examples of people engaging in direct eye contact with Arbus in this exhibition. I’m thinking particularly of the picture of the boy in the crowd. Could you tell us about that photograph?

JR: It’s a picture of a young boy who is rising above people who are seated (Boy above a crowd, N.Y.C. 1957) – that to me suggests that he chose to separate himself from his surroundings and engage with Arbus who was also choosing to separate herself from her crowd, if you will. There is an exchange there. Karan did some great research as to what that event was. 

KR: We know from adjacent frames on the roll of film – where there is another boy holding a pamphlet that says ‘I am American Day’ – that it was a celebration of new US citizens, which is pretty cool, especially in light of our current political climate.  

JR: This picture is about someone whose status is undergoing transformation. It’s a group ceremony to celebrate a new identity. Arbus’ work has always appealed to young people and people who are transforming themselves in different ways through their bodies, their social and sexual preferences, or how they dress. Arbus honours individuals who are in the process of self-transformation. 

KR: Another interesting example is Lady on a bus, N.Y.C. 1957. There’s so much going on there. Photographer and subject are definitely engaging, there is eye contact: an interaction that is undeniable but it’s a bus, it’s probably moving and it’s not crowded: there’s no escaping Arbus here and this woman gives it back, she’s right there with her.

JR: That directional gaze is pretty aggressive. 


Arbus honours individuals who are in the process of self-transformation.
Jeff L. Rosenheim, curator of diane arbus: in the beginning

Arbus is best known for her large square format photographs but almost all the photographs in this exhibition were shot on 35mm. Why did Arbus change formats and what was she trying to achieve?

JR: With 35mm you have to put the camera to your eye and it blocks your face and your expression from your subject. It doesn’t block them from you it blocks you from them: the picture-maker from the subject-person. The larger format Rolleiflex was a camera that you look down into, you don’t put it to your eye – so her expression was never really hidden from her subjects. That seemed to be important to her. 


Why do you think that Arbus’ work has been so important for people working with moving image?

JR: Filmmaking is a kind of storytelling – there is a narrative, a constructed relationship created by the cinematographer, the director and the actors. Many of Arbus’ subjects are performers and those who are not performers by training are in a kind of drama with her. She is interested in telling stories that are, at times, quite mythological or existential. She’s interested in identity and how you create a character is a question that every filmmaker has to solve. Arbus answers that question over and over in a very poetic way.


The small scale of these photographs is quite striking. I think we’ve become much more used to artists working in larger formats.

JR: Yes – one of the distinguishing things about this show is that most of the pictures are no larger than 6 by 9 inches. Artists today are making works that are cinematic in scope, that occupy space in a different physical way. Sadly, we’ve lost intimacy in the art world.


This image and main: Installation view of diane arbus: in the beginning at Hayward Gallery, 2019. Photo: Mark Blower

Could you tell me about the ideas behind the design of the exhibition?

JR: We take great pride in the design of this exhibition, which uses individual walls for each work. One of the things that this does is make these small pictures seem very large, and the connection with those subjects also becomes very large and respectful.

As a result of this exhibition design there is no particular sequence or prescribed route that the visitor makes through the show. It’s open ended. You get to choose your own path and the decisions you make implicate you. The curator does not define your experience, you do. Each visitor has to make their own decisions. Psychologically that puts the viewer beside Arbus, choosing and interacting with her subjects on a one to one basis. It’s a powerful design. With most exhibitions the curator pulls the visitor through the show by an invisible string and you’re supposed to see each work in an order defined by the exhibition design. This show does the opposite. It is daunting and you might not see every picture but that’s ok. It is a very liberating thing. 


Were most of the photographs in this exhibition printed by Arbus?

JR: Yes. All of the prints in the main body of the show were printed by Arbus. There is a separate gallery that presents her portfolio A box of ten photographs – those prints are posthumous prints made by one of her students, Neil Selkirk, and they are on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum here in London. All of the other pictures are on loan from American collectors and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Most are a gift or promised gift from the Estate of Diane Arbus – the artist’s two daughters – who chose the Met to be the repository for the life’s work of their mother. This is the first show drawn from the Diane Arbus Archive, which has been preserved and catalogued by Karan. The Archive is an amazing resource consisting of negatives, contact sheets, papers, the artist’s library and her collection of work by other artists. 

KR: The papers importantly include her notebooks and appointment books where she made notes on the people she met and on the places she was going. Her writing is terrific and insightful – really just amazing. Some of her words are peppered throughout this exhibition. It’s a wonderful thing to experience her words alongside these images.


What does this exhibition reveal about Arbus that will be new to audiences of her work?

JR: If you know Arbus’ photographs but you haven’t seen the early work then you don’t fully know Arbus’ remarkable achievement with the camera. With this exhibition we are adding many pictures to the canon. 

Arbus only worked for around fifteen years but more than half of all the known prints she made are from these first seven years. This work is so mature; all the themes and styles and methods and strategies were already in place. Most exhibitions have excluded these early photographs. The first retrospective of Arbus’ work in 1972 was at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and although the early photographs were included they were not published in the catalogue. In a certain sense that was volume two and we have finally created volume one. 


This exhibition is organised by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.



diane arbus: in the beginning at Hayward Gallery runs 13 February – 6 May 2019

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Artemis Quartet’s Gregor Sigl on strings and the evolution of the ensemble

The boldly compelling Berlin-based Artemis Quartet return to Southbank Centre in March, 2019 with stirring masterworks by Barber, Britten and Schubert. Five years on from their last appearance at Southbank Centre, then, as now, as part of the International Chamber Music Series, we spoke to violist Gregor Sigl ahead of their return. 

In this short interview Sigl tells us about their chosen Southbank Centre repertoire, who he feels is the most influential composer for strings, and the challenges of being in a string quartet.

Why did you choose the pieces on your Southbank Centre programme, and why do you think they work well together?

Schubert's Death and the Maiden is perhaps the most played and well-known piece in the whole string quartet repertoire and the reason for that is obvious - it is one of the most accomplished, genius and emotional pieces that any composer has ever written for our formation. It has an electrifying dramatic power, the most beautiful melodic lines combined with a strong rhythmical structure and a heart breaking harmonic feel, balancing between smile and tears, as it's often the case in Schubert's music. 

The key of Barber's Adagio, in a fully different era and context, also lies in its harmonic tension which makes a very simple and pure melodic line sound extremely rich in colours and different human feelings.

In his fabulous second string quartet, Benjamin Britten experiments a lot with the relation between melody and harmony as well, especially in its epic last movement, where the main theme of the chacony appears in 22 different lights and characters. 

All three of these compositions that we are going to present at Southbank Centre are incontestable masterpieces, celebrating life between its brightness and darkness, between love and hate, between despair and courage.


How has your quartet evolved since its formation?

The history of our quartet, just like the repertoire we will present at Southbank Centre, has been very complex, rich, beautiful, dramatic, heart breaking and life changing. There have been lots of personal changes and challenges; a very hard time accepting the death of our colleague Friedemann Weigle, and then finding courage and strength to go on and to continue this beautiful journey of playing string quartet. 


Over the years we've tried to maintain our very particular and thorough work ethic, letting every new member bring new impulses and qualities to the group, and giving space to every personality to fully express itself.

Gregor Sigl on the Artemis Quartet

You have toured a lot as a Quartet, what's the secret to a happy life on the road?

The secret to a happy life on the road is a mutual respect and a high intuition.


What is the best thing about playing in a quartet?

The best thing is the possibility to express yourself, to be able to create, to always enjoy the process and never reach the goal.


And the worst?

The security lines and delays in the airports.


Who do you feel is the single most influential string quartet composer?

Definitely Ludwig van Beethoven.



Artemis Quartet perform at our Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the International Chamber Music Series on Sunday 17 March.

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Recipe: vegan chocolate tart from Choco Fruit

Choco Fruit, a favourite regular of the Southbank Centre Food Market, make delicious Belgian chocolate covered fruit with plenty of colourful toppings and they also sell an exciting range of vegan cakes

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, David of Choco Fruit has put together an extra special, vegan recipe for their scrumptious rhubarb-based chocolate tart; a surefire way to impress your loved one. 

If baking isn’t your thing, visit Choco Fruit at the Southbank Centre Food Market this weekend to pick up some ready-made delicious treats. 

vegan chocolate tart

vegan chocolate tart
  • 150ml soya milk
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 250g dark vegan chocolate (70%)

for the pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 125g margarine (cold), plus a little extra for greasing

for the rhubarb:

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 25-40g sugar
  • 1 splash of ginger cordial



  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Lightly grease a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin. 
  2. To make the pastry, sift the flour, icing sugar and ginger into a large bowl. Roughly chop and add the margarine and, working quickly, rub into the dry ingredients. Add enough cold water so you can bring the mixture together into a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Once chilled, roll the pastry to ½ cm thick and line the tin. Trim any excess and prick all over with a fork. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes. 
  4. Bake the pastry blind for 15 minutes. Remove the weight and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. For the filling, place the soya milk in a small pan with 200ml water, crush and add the cardamom pods, and the sugar, then warm over a low heat. 
  6. Put the cornflour in a small bowl with a few tablespoons of the warm soya mixture and stir till smooth, then return to the pan, stirring to combine, and bring back to the boil. Remove the cardamom pods.
  7. Snap the chocolate into a bowl and pour over the hot soya. Stir to combine. Add the vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt, pour into the case, chill for 5 to 6 hours.
  8. To cook the rhubarb, cut into 5cm pieces and place in an ovenproof dish with 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar, depending on how sharp the rhubarb is. Add the cordial, orange zest and juice, and cover with a cartouche (greaseproof-paper disc). 
  9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft but holding its shape. Leave to cool. Serve thin slices of the tart with the rhubarb.




Every weekend, from Friday to Sunday, you’ll find fantastic street food creations from around the world at Southbank Centre Food Market.

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Things to do in February half-term at Southbank Centre

It’s February half-term. Yes, already. You’ve only just got over the Christmas holidays and now you have to find a way to entertain the little mites for another week. But fear not, help is at hand. Thankfully, we’ve plenty of things to do this February half-term here at Southbank Centre including a host of free events and activities.

Chief amongst these is our annual Imagine Children’s Festival which this year celebrates it’s 18th year. Running from Wednesday 13 February right through to Sunday 24 February, the festival brings all the best in children’s theatre, comedy, DJs, dance and hands-on fun to our venues here in the heart of London.

Child enjoying Soundpit at Southbank Centre
Daily from 13 February / Exhibition Space, Royal Festival Hall


Ever wondered what sound feels like? Di Mainstone’s interactive installation allows you to find out as you run your hands through the sand, or even walk across it to create music with your own movements

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Performer and Children on stage
FREE / Daily from 16 - 24 February, 10.30am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Morning Music Time

Get your little ones up and running with some interactive music; take in a free performance and have a sing, or try your hand at the trumpet with Rebecca Baxter and Andrew McCaldon respectively.

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Cover of The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Saturday 16 February, 11am / Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall

Kiran Millwood Hargrave: The Way Past Winter

Cross frozen wild-lands with Mila and her sisters as children’s author Kiran Millwood Hargrave weaves an enchanting story to read from her latest book, The Way Past Winter, and tell of her own journey to becoming a children’s author.

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Jacqueline Wilson - July 2012 . ©James Jordan
Saturday 16 February, 11am / Royal Festival Hall

Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell

Hear the stories behind the incredible authors who have ignited children's imaginations for over 20 years of Waterstones Children’s Laureates. Join Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Chris Riddell for a journey into some of their most loved stories and characters.

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Saturday 16 February, 11am & 1.30pm / Foyle Pavilion, Royal Festival Hall

Nadine Kaadan: Stories of Syria

Hear about a courageous little boy growing up in a time of conflict in a storytelling and art workshop with children’s author and illustrator Nadine Kaadan, as she introduces her uplifting story, Tomorrow.

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FREE / Saturday 16 February, 11.15am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Big Moves for Little Groovers

Calling all budding b-girls and b-boys: throw down some shapes and perfect your best moves in a hip-hop dance workshop led by The Movement Factory, an award-winning community dance empire.

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The Skies Above My Eyes
Saturday 16 February, 2pm / Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall

The Skies Above My Eyes

Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zomme, the author and illustrator of children’s book The Skies Above My Eyes, encourage children to voyage to the skies to see what they can see at this out of this world event featuring fun facts and intergalactic drawing.

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The characters from Peppa Pig on the Royal Festival Hall stage
15 -17 June, various times / Queen Elizabeth Hall

Peppa Pig: My First Concert

Give your children an interactive introduction to a live orchestra courtesy of some of their favourite cartoon characters. Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig wield the baton, whilst Peppa and George learn all about the instruments.

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16 - 20 February, various times / Purcell Room

The Singing Mermaid

Escape to the seaside with a musical story based on the hugely children’s book The Singing Mermaid, told through puppetry and performance, and featuring music by Barb Jungr.

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THE GIANT STORYTELLING BED at Imagine Children's Festival Credit Victor Frankowski 2016
FREE / daily from 16 - 24 February, 3.45pm / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Bedtime Stories

Are you sitting comfortably? Bring the whole family to unwind with a free story every afternoon of Imagine Children's Festival as special guests choose their own favourite children’s stories to read.

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FREE / Sunday 17 February, 11am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Chineke! Juniors

Create your own music and reinterpret the sounds of the orchestra through dance, art and storytelling at a day of music-making with Chineke! Juniors, a youth orchestra of black and minority ethnic (BME) musicians, aged 11 – 18.

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Speak into Your Power book illustration
Sunday 17 February, 1pm / Purcell Room

Andrea Pippins: Step into Your Power

Illustrator of Step into Your Power Andrea Pippins and former deputy young mayor of Lewisham and grime MC Novelist share their own journeys as they show your children how to harness their power and use it to emulate their heroes and live their best life.

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Elmer, the patchwork elephant
Monday 18 February, 11am / Queen Elizabeth Hall

David McKee: Elmer, Mr Benn and Other Colourful Stories

In a special event celebrating the 30th birthday year of his character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, Dave McKee, creator of Elmer and Mr Benn, joins us to reflect on his career in writing, illustration and animation.

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FREE / Monday 18 February, from 11am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

A Monday at the Musicals

Got a budding Jersey Boy or Dreamgirl in your offspring, well the Monday of half-term is made for them, with a day of free workshops and performances to help them hone their skills, led by real West End performers.

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Illustration of a dog for the Woof Woof Wag Wag Puppy Poems event at Southbank Centre's Imagine festival
Monday 18 February, 1.30pm / National Poetry Library

Woof Woof Wag Wag Puppy Poems

Perfect for dog loving children aged 5 – 7. Come and paws for a while as poets Brian Moses and Roger Stevens read from their joint collection The Waggiest Tails: Poems Written by Dogs, and Victoria Adukwei Bulley reads from Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield.

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Monday 18 February, 2pm / Royal Festival Hall

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Film Live in Concert

Go on an intrepid adventure at this screening of the animated film adaptation of the popular children’s book, accompanied live by the City of London Sinfonia. The event includes a lively introduction to the musical world of the film and fun sing-alongs of the closing credits song, Me & You by George Ezra.

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Cosmic Currents with Figs in Wigs and Friends
FREE / Tuesday 19 February, from 11.30am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Cosmic Currents with Figs in Wigs and Friends

Put on your space suit and join dancing troupe Figs in Wigs and their friends Steve Nice and ShayShay for a day of intergalactic workshops, performance and storytelling for all the family.

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Jeremy Strong, writer
Tuesday 19 February, 1pm / Purcell Room

Jeremy Strong: Laugh Your Socks Off

Laugh your socks off with King of Comedy and author of the My Brother’s Famous Bottom and The Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Dog series, Jeremy Strong as he shares the giggles and fun from his latest children's story.

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Captain Flinn:The Magic Cutlass
19 - 23 February, various times / Queen Elizabeth Hall

Captain Flinn & The Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass

All aboard, me hearties, for this non-stop, action-packed theatrical pirate adventure, with live music, puppetry and dastardly dinosaurs. Catch morning or afternoon performances of this children’s favourite.

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20 - 23 February, various times / Blue Room, Royal Festival Hall

The Day I Fell Into a Book

Find yourself in a magical world of imagination as The Day I Fell Into a Book uses binaural sound recordings, intricate lighting technology and projection to take the audience into a lost world of classic myths and legends.

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FREE / Thursday 21 February, from 11.30am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Strictly Kids

If you’re little ones are fans of Strictly Come Dancing, then this is perfect for them. Get them up on their feet with a fun day of dancing, including the chance to learn their favourite dance styles from leading child ballroom dancers.

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Under embargo until 13:45 7th June...Pictured at Hull City Hall is the presentation of the new Tenth Waterstones Children's Laureate. Shown is Lauren Child, the new laureate and the medal she has been awarded. Pictures copyright Darren Casey / DCimaging
Thursday 21 February, 1pm / Purcell Room

Lauren Child in Conversation

The current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, the writer behind beloved children’s book characters Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola, talks about her best-loved characters and inspirations.

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Photo of beatboxer Shlomo in action. He brings his Beatbox Adventure for Kids to Southbank Centre's Imagine festival in 2019
Thursday 21 February, 11am & 3.30pm / Purcell Room

Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids

The remarkable and world-record-breaking beatboxer Shlomo is back in town, using his mouth and a mic to make all kinds of remarkable music. Will your little ones become one of his superhero sidekicks in a world of funny sounds and cool music?

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A boy playing a piano
22 - 23 February, various times / Purcell Room

 I Wish I Was a Mountain

Do we really need the things that we need? What do mountains feel? How did time begin? Join Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion Toby Thompson for this special retelling of a fairy tale with live music and rhyme.

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How to Train Your Dragon illustration
FREE / Saturday 23 February, 11am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Book in a Day: How to Train Your Dragon

Join is for a dangerous jaunt on the Isle of Berk as special guests and live performances bring to life Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon for one whole heroic day.

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Ade Adepitan
Saturday 23 February, 2pm / Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall

Ade Adepitan: Battle of the Cyborg Cat

Join Paralympian and TV presenter Ade Adepitan as he brings us the story of the ups and downs of Ade, a young boy adjusting to life in east London, in his first book for children, Ade's Amazing Ade-ventures: Battle of the Cyborg Cat.

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Fold Out City with instructions
FREE / Sunday 24 February, from 11am / The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall

Fold Your City

Come and join us for a day of creative and interactive crafting as we build a model city inspired by the ever-evolving London skyline that surrounds the River Thames. Draw, colour, decorate and be part of this origami installation.

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Noisy Notes - Sue Perkins
Sunday 24 February, 2pm / Queen Elizabeth Hall

Noisy notes

Give your little ones a unique interactive introduction to the orchestra as presenter Sue Perkins leads the Orion Orchestra in a concert of old favourites and familiar tunes for all ages.

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Incredibly, this isn’t everything we’ve got going on at half-term. There are a whole host of other fun, interactive events for children of all ages – including many free activities – taking place every day across our Thames-side venues.

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Who is Maurizio Pollini?

Described by The Telegraph as an ‘ice-man of the ivories’, world-class classical pianist Maurizio Pollini has had a career spanning six decades. As part of our International Piano Series, Pollini performs some of Chopin’s best-loved works and Debussy’s evocative first set of Preludes.

Ahead of his return to Southbank Centre, we find out more about the life and career of this legendary maestro.

The love of the piano runs through his family

Musicality runs through the Pollini blood; Maurizio’s father was a keen violinist, his mother was a trained pianist and singer, and his uncle an amateur pianist. And his son Daniele Pollini is no exception, having made his debut as a pianist at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy. He has performed in numerous international competitions and festivals over the last twenty years. More recently, he has focused on conducting and in this video, Daniele directs his father in a performance with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia.

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" Op. 73 - Daniele & Maurizio Pollini - Sinfónica de Galicia


He’s one of the greatest interpreters of Chopin

Pollini’s love for the music of Chopin has been with him since he was a boy. He was only 18 years old when he obtained international recognition, winning first prize at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1960. He was the youngest of the 89 entrants. It wasn’t until his critically-acclaimed release of Chopin’s complete etudes in 1973 that Pollini’s Chopin reputation was sealed.

Maurizio Pollini 1960 VI Chopin Piano Competition

The pre-eminent Chopinist of his generation

And his latest recording is dedicated to the great master of the Romantic era

At 77 years old, age has not kept Pollini away from the recording studio. He continues to produce on average one album each year. He has won numerous awards for his recordings including a Grammy Award for his recording of Chopin’s Nocturnes. His latest album, Chopin: Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Berceuse, Sonata, Opp. 55-58, continues his study of Chopin’s work. The album comprises some of Chopin’s greatest work and Classic FM described Pollini’s recording of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 as ‘effortless’.

Chopin is an innately seductive composer
Maurizio Pollini

His strong political views have played an important part in his musical life

Pollini, a left-wing activist, encountered the Marxist avant-garde composer Luigi Nono in the mid-60s which formed an important part of his career. Nono, who had previously written a piece condemning American involvement in Vietnam, composed two pieces for Pollini to commemorate the murder of a Chilean revolutionary leader. At least one of Pollini's recitals was halted by the police after he spoke out about Vietnam.

He believes art is for everybody

Inspired by left-wing politics and a personal belief that the arts is an engine for social change, Pollini, Nono and conductor Claudio Abbado performed radical work all over Italy, encouraging new audiences to attend traditional concert halls. With his new friends, Pollini went onto perform a cycle of concerts in factories and prisons. Pollini said in an interview with The Guardian, ‘The starting point was that art should be for everybody’. His strong belief in the benefits of art hasn’t wavered: ‘Art itself, if it is really great, has a progressive aspect that is needed by a society, even if it seems absolutely useless in strictly practical terms’.

You could say Royal Festival Hall is his second home

In 1963, Pollini made his London debut, performing in the Royal Festival Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, he has performed with one of Southbank Centre’s resident orchestras, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. His upcoming performance will be his 135th appearance at the Southbank Centre – an astounding achievement for any musician – and we look forward to welcoming him back.


I have played a recital in London more or less every year throughout my career and have a very strong relationship with the London public… I like their way of listening and their deep interest in music.
Pollini on playing for a London audience

Maurizio Pollini performs some of Chopin’s best-loved works in a solo recital as part of the International Piano Series in Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 12 March.

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Nile Rodgers announced as curator of Meltdown 2019

Southbank Centre today reveals that the curator of Meltdown festival 2019 will be three-time Grammy Award-winning American composer, producer, arranger, guitarist, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Abbey Road Studios’ first ever Chief Creative Advisor, Nile Rodgers.

From 3 – 11 August, Rodgers will take over Southbank Centre with his unique creative vision. Over nine days and across the world-class stages of the Royal Festival Hall, newly reopened brutalist masterpieces the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, and the remainder of Southbank Centre’s 17-acre cultural quarter on the banks of the River Thames, Rodgers will present a hand-picked line-up of show-stopping music, art and free events, in what will undoubtedly be the funkiest festival of the year.

Among music legends, Nile Rodgers is truly exceptional. From co-founding slick disco pioneers CHIC with his late creative partner Bernard Edwards, to his own global success as a songwriter and producer, Rodgers has contributed to records that have cumulatively sold more than 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide, and has left an indelible signature on the music of today.

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