The Southbank Centre has announced details of its 60th birthday celebrations, which will take the shape of a homage to the 1951 Festival of Britain.
More than just a ‘tonic for the nation’ in an austere time of cuts, Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly explains that the festival will be celebration of British innovation and imagination.
For the festival, which will stretch from 22 April to 4 September, designer Wayne Hemingway will create a museum on the Southbank Centre site dedicated to the history of the Festival of Britain. It will include memorabilia, films and verbal history relating to the festival and the Great Exhibition in 1851, as well as a homage to designers Robin and Lucienne Day.
Much like the 1951 festival, the exhibition will have a set route that will lead visitors around the Southbank Centre. It is going to be set into four ‘lands’: seaside and ships, land of Britain, power and production and people of Britain.
Kelly says, ‘We want to make the entire site welcoming and exciting, and a place of exploration.’
The rest of the festival programme consists of a series of themed weekends, which stretch from April to September.
Highlights include London Guitar Festival, Ray Davies’ Meltdown, a weekend curated by pianist Land Lang, London Literature Festival, a busk led by Billy Bragg and Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage Festival, which was located at Goodwood last year.
Tracey Emin will take over the entire Hayward Gallery between 18 April – 2 April, creating not quite a retrospective but a survey of her work to date, as well as some pieces created especially for the exhibition.
Emin says, ‘It will help people understand the different mediums I work in rather than the history of my work.’
On 9 May, Heston Blumenthal will create a celebration of British afternoon tea in eccentric style, allowing visitors to taste a dozen different sherry and hopefully scoff plenty of scones.
The Southbank Centre is also in talks with the Museum of London to dredge the River Lee as part of Community Archaeology Week to locate the original Skyline, that was allegedly thrown into the river, says Kelly.
It’s an ambitious and exciting schedule, that will hopefully provide a much needed summer knees up and plenty of opportunities for designers.