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Aladdin Sane: 50 Years Exhibition

PAST EVENT
Accessible
6 Apr –⁠ 28 May
Exhibition Space, Level 1, Royal Festival Hall
Art & exhibitions
From £5, Free for Members
past event
past event
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David Bowie cover image of Aladdin Sane
Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie ArchiveTM

Fifty years on from the release of David Bowie’s album, this exhibition delves into the creation of its iconic ‘lightning bolt’ cover portrait by Brian Duffy.

For the album Aladdin Sane, the creativity of Bowie’s music was matched by an extraordinary image on the cover, photographed by Duffy (1933 – 2010).

With a focus on the photo session that gave us Bowie’s ‘lightning bolt’ portrait, this exhibition explores the continuous reshaping of Bowie’s image, and his part, along with Duffy’s, in a reimagining of sexual and gender identity.

Professor Camille Paglia defined the portrait as ‘one of the most emblematic and influential art images of the past half century, reproduced and parodied in advertising, media and entertainment worldwide.’

Of his father’s work, Chris Duffy said, ‘My father’s image of Bowie is often called the Mona Lisa of Pop. It’s important to remember it was the result of a short studio shoot using film, which then had to be sent out for commercial processing.

‘There were no instant digital images then or Photoshop. It’s extraordinary how it’s lasted and been endlessly reworked. Wherever I go in the world, it’s always somewhere on a T-shirt.’

This exhibition is curated by Chris Duffy and Geoffrey Marsh.

Thank you to AudioGold for their support.

Need to know

For step-free access to the exhibition, please enter the Royal Festival Hall through the Southbank Centre Square Doors, which are on the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road side of the building.

You can join our free Access Scheme through your online Southbank Centre account or via email.
Find out more about our Access Scheme
All our Access & facilities information

Your £5 entrance fee to the exhibition can be discounted from the purchase price of the Aladdin Sane: 50 Years book if you buy it from the Southbank Centre Shop on the day of your visit. Please show your exhibition e-ticket when you buy the book to apply the discount.

This offer is not available online and can’t be used in conjunction with any other offers or discounts. Single use only, while stocks last.

Dates & times

6 Apr –⁠ 28 May

Mon &⁠ Tue, 10am –⁠ 6pm

Wed –⁠ Sun, 10am –⁠ 8pm

 

May bank holiday opening hours:

Mon 1 May, 12 noon –⁠ 8pm

Mon 8 May, 12 noon –⁠ 8pm

 

Extended opening hours:

Fri 19 May –⁠ Sun 21 May, 10am –⁠ 10pm

Wed 24 May –⁠ Sun 28 May, 10am –⁠ 10pm

 

Exhibition closed 12 –⁠ 14 May

Price

  • Standard entryFrom £5, Free for Members
  • Concessions25%**


No booking fee

Book as early as you can to ensure the best choice of tickets. Ticket prices may be adjusted without notice to reflect demand.

** Limited availability. Read about concessions.

Tickets can only be sold through the Southbank Centre and our authorised agents, and can't be resold. You can return your tickets to the Southbank Centre for a credit voucher up to 48 hours before the event. Tickets resold on any third-party platforms will become invalid.

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Venue

Royal Festival Hall

Our number one priority is the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff. 

Check here for our current guidance

The Royal Festival Hall is open to all for access to the Level 2 foyers and toilets, Level 1 and Changing Places toilets, the National Poetry Library, Skylon, Riverside Terrace Cafe, Southbank Centre Shop and Members' Lounge at the following times:

*The Royal Festival Hall is open Mon & Tue, 10am – 6pm**; Wed – Sun, 10am – 11pm.

**On event days, the Royal Festival Hall building remains open until the end of the event.

See the opening times for all our venues

Our address is: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. The nearest tube and train stations within 5 7 minutes walk are Waterloo (Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Waterloo & City lines) and Embankment (District & Circle lines). There are also lots of bus routes with stops 25 minutes from our venues. For more information on getting here by road, rail or river, see below.

Visit our Getting here page

Pre-booking online is recommended. Check our website on the day for returns. There’s no need to print your e-ticket – just show your phone to our Visitor Assistants on entry.

Some free events don't require a ticket. Found an event labelled FREE on our website with no way to book? Simply turn up on the day.

If you don't receive your e-ticket

Your e-ticket will be sent to you seven days before the event date from [email protected]. If you don't receive your e-ticket, and it's not in your junk or spam folder, please get in touch. 

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More information

Find out all you need to know about tickets, including concessions, group bookings, returns, credit vouchers and more, via the link below.

Frequently asked questions

Toilets

Toilets, including accessible toilets, are open on Level 2 of the Royal Festival Hall. 

Cloakroom

There's a cloakroom in the Blue Side Foyer, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall. It’s £1 per item, card only. The cloakroom opens about an hour before ticketed events, and closes around 15 minutes after the performance ends. It can be accessed via Lifts 4 & 5, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall.

Any sized item can be left in our cloakroom, including fold-away bicycles. We don’t accept non-folding bicycles. Items must be collected on the same day they are stored. From time to time, the cloakroom may not be available. You won’t be able to bring any bags over 40 x 25 x 25cm into the auditorium of the Royal Festival Hall or the Queen Elizabeth Hall, or into the Hayward Gallery, so please leave large bags at home.

Items are left in our cloakrooms at the owner’s risk, and we cannot accept any responsibility for loss or damage, from any cause, to these items.

We're cash-free

Please note that we're unable to accept cash payments across our site. 

Booking wheelchair positions

When booking a wheelchair position in the Royal Festival Hall for large motorised wheelchairs (more than 65cm wide), please book in the rear stalls or side stalls. Boxes aren't able to accommodate larger wheelchairs due to limited space. If you have any queries, please contact [email protected] or call 020 3879 9555.

Entering the hall

For level access to the Royal Festival Hall from the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road off Belvedere Road, please use the Southbank Centre Square Doors. The JCB Glass Lift is situated at this entrance and will take you to all floors. All floors are accessible from the main foyer on Level 2. If you need further assistance, our Visitor Assistants are here to help you.

You can also use the external lift near the Artists' Entrance on Southbank Centre Square to reach Mandela Walk, Level 2. 

We welcome wheelchair users and guide companion dogs. 

Download step-free access map

More about Access & facilities

Parking

Blue Badge holders and those with access requirements can be dropped off on the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road off Belvedere Road (the road between the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery).

There are four Blue Badge parking spaces available for visitors located on the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road. Spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and are free to use. You must display your Blue Badge as you enter the site. Vehicles that do not display a Blue Badge are refused entry.

Blue Badge parking at National Theatre

Alternative parking for Blue Badge holders visiting the Southbank Centre can be found at the National Theatre car park (330 metres). If you are visiting the Hayward Gallery, just take your badge and car park ticket to the Ticket Desk in the gallery foyer for validation before you leave.

Please note: when the National Theatre building is closed (on Sundays, and on days without performances) there is no step-free access from the car park. Please contact the National Theatre directly to check before travelling. Call 020 7452 3961 or email [email protected]

Alternative parking is available nearby at the APCOA Cornwall Road Car Park (490 metres), subject to charges.

Blue Badge parking at APCOA Cornwall Road

Alternative parking for Blue Badge holders visiting the Southbank Centre can also be found at the South Bank Car Park – APCOA Cornwall Road Car Park. Just take your badge and car park ticket to the parking attendant office at the entrance to the car park for validation before you leave.

A drop-off point at the Royal Festival Hall (30 metres) has been created for visitors who are unable to walk from alternative car parks.

Our Access Scheme

If you have any access requirements, please sign up to our Access Scheme for discounts, wheelchair spaces, dedicated seats and free companion tickets. You can also join our mailing list to get news about accessible events and exhibitions.

Email us

More about our Access Scheme

From a snack with coffee to cocktails and fine dining, plus some of London's best street food – it's all here on the Southbank Centre site.

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