Archive for July, 2013

D*FACE X LLSB: South Bank Paint Attack

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Earlier this month D*Face collaborated with the Long Live Southbank campaign in a creative project using his bespoke spray-can skateboard apparatus. With remote controlled cans Palace Skateboards pro Chewy Cannon and co. painted the floor leaving trails behind them as they cruised and carved the hallowed banks and flatland of the Southbank undercroft. Here D*Face, aka Dean Stockton, gives an in-depth interview into the importance of the Southbank in his development as an artist and his involvement in the 1988 Smell of Death Jam event.

John Crace – Skating on the South Bank: My Nights Getting Wrecked in the Undercroft

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I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. None of us did. But we’d heard about the latest American craze of skateboarding and fancied having a go. We bought a set of basic trucks (wheels) – basic even by 1976 skateboard standards – screwed them to a plank of wood we had vaguely carved into a V at the front and headed off to the park. Our first descent was a not particularly steep path. If you could get down in one piece without hitting a pothole or skidding on the gravel and then manage to navigate the left-hand bend at the bottom you were a legend. That board soon broke and we screwed the wheels to another plank…

The Guardian

Reflections on the Southbank: Guest Blog from John Parnavelas

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Art Installation by Rod Broomfield

Art Installation by Rod Broomfield


I first visited the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank in the summer of 1975, and I have been a regular visitor of the music, film, art and theatre venues ever since. In fact, for a very long time, I considered the complex as my ‘second home’. Early on, one left the Southbank immediately after attending an event because there was virtually nothing else to do in the area. I recall, not long after my first visits, how pleased many of us were to see that young people started to skateboard underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall, especially on weekends. This added much needed energy, colour and life to an otherwise lifeless landscape. The skating area has over the years become an integral part of the Southbank complex and recognised worldwide.

The refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall at the turn of this century brought changes that were generally welcomed by everyone at the time. The changes, which included a number of retail shops, bars and restaurants, brought many new visitors and made the Southbank lively and an attractive place to visit. There was now something for everyone: music, film, theatre, skateboarding, eating, drinking or a pleasant stroll along the river. Throughout this time, the skating area remained embedded in the changing landscape. However, more changes started to appear in recent years with the addition of new eating and drinking establishments. Nearly all of the new additions are tacky and an eyesore; they are placed there purely to increase the revenue of the music venues without respect for the architecture or balance of the arts complex. They include a cheap extension of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the form of a Mexican restaurant, a trailer/shack that sells street Mexican food, and a roof garden and bar replete with astroturf and potted plants. As a result, the Southbank has become one unpleasant giant restaurant/bar whose customers are not even aware of the artistic events that take place inside the buildings of the complex. The proposal to displace the skateboarding area and add more money-making shops, restaurants and bars fills me with horror; I hope it never happens. I would never want to see the day when the area we all loved for years become a cash making machine with a bit of art on the side.

I strongly support the work of Long Live Southbank who are campaigning feverishly to protect the Southbank in its present form. The proposed commercial development will undoubtedly alter the architecture and views we all enjoy from the site and, more importantly, will tear deep into the activities in this revered community space. Long Live Southbank!

John Parnavelas
Professor of Neuroscience
UCL

‘BATTLE’ FOR THE ARTS?

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Much has been made in the press of the ‘battle’ taking place on London’s South Bank. Debate surrounds the Southbank Centre’s proposed Festival Wing development, which would see the world famous skateboarding and urban arts spot known as the ‘Undercroft’ filled in with commercial units. Recently though, media coverage has transgressed into suggestions that the skateboarders are against the other art forms using the Southbank Centre, a timely change of message, distracting from the loss of an iconic space to further cafes, restaurants and retail outlets on an already gorged riverside.

The determination of the Undercroft users to defend their home against redevelopment has been glossed over by the Southbank Centre’s well-oiled PR company, MerchantCantos, in their recent messaging, with focus being placed instead on how relocating the users a short distance away would create ‘new facilities to benefit literally hundreds of thousands of young people.’ The shrewd nature of this type of PR not only makes a concerted effort to pitch one group of young people against another, as if the skateboarders refusing to have their home of 40 years filled in with commercial units is a direct attempt to deprive children of their right to education, but it fundamentally misunderstands the importance of the physical space for this diverse and eclectic user group.

The first skateboarders to use the Southbank in the 70s appropriated what was essentially disused space, transforming this architectural anomaly into a thriving urban hub for the emerging sport of skateboarding. Skateboarding at the Southbank developed as a response to accidents of architecture; the pioneers there saw the landscape as a challenge to be understood and as the environment evolved organically over time so did the style of skating and the people visiting it.

For users of the Undercroft, which later included BMXers, street dancers, graffiti artists and many other urban art forms, the sense of place, the unique history imbued in the walls and banks on Southbank, are integral to its cultural and historical significance. British skateboarding and street culture is the Undercroft. A purpose built skate area, regardless of whether the Southbank Centre are able to find skateboarders willing to collaborate on a skater-led design, is a contrived version of an urban environment and goes against the ethos and artistic values of the urban arts practised in the Undercroft. As the Long Live Southbank campaign is fond of saying; you can’t move history.

Despite the efforts to frame this argument as a few selfish skateboarders resisting relocation at the cost of education for thousands of deprived young people, the Southbank Centre has failed to provide an adequate explanation for whether destroying the Undercroft is really necessary to achieve their noble aims. For users of the Undercroft, an ideal solution would be one in which the organic urban arts of the Undercroft can continue to co-exist happily alongside the more rigidly structured offerings of the Southbank Centre without the need for more public space being monetised at the cost of cultural history.

Any conflict surrounding the competing needs of users of the Southbank Centre is a combat of the Centre’s own creation. The constantly emerging support from musicians, contemporary artists, filmmakers and creative across the globe for the Long Live Southbank campaign suggests that the art world isn’t buying into this ‘battle’ for the arts and a more creative solution is required.

Breaks Magazine Presents: Long Live Southbank by Anna Victoria Best & Georgia Boal-Russell

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In the wake of plans being submitted to ‘revitalise’ the Southbank area of London recently, which involve knocking down the world famous Southbank skatepark, Breaks Magazine teamed up with Anna Victoria Best, Georgia Boal-Russell and the Long Live Southbank team to put on a show called ‘Save Southbank’.

The show is a exhibition of images based around the Southbank scene, and visually demonstrates the wide range of people that skateboarding brings together at these hallowed grounds, and thus the importance of saving this London landmark.

Filmed & Edited by Phill Bircham
phillipbircham.co.uk/

Read More here:
Breaks Mag

Media4Youth: Long Live Southbank

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Media4Youth have filmed and produced an excellent video giving those in the community and farther afield the opportunity to voice their opinions about the Undercroft and the importance of its preservation on the Southbank. M4Y is a non-profit organisation that offers the training, the tools and the opportunity for individuals to become involved in media and raise issues that affect the community, as well as create employment and transform peoples lives.

SOUTHBANK REUNION: STILL ROLLING SINCE ’76

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On Saturday the 27th of July the Undercroft was blessed with a reunion of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s locals, including some of the first skateboarders to ever use the space. Organised by Southbank resident Ben Simmons, the event brought down a large group of slalom skaters, bank skaters, street skaters and even a few erstwhile rollerskaters. It was a monumental event that bought together those that had made Southbank history and included those that had frequented the Undercroft from 1976 right through to the early 90s. Many in attendance still skate regularly and were ripping on the day. Lots of hugs and memories. Mark Slough told me he hadn’t skated southbank since 1979!

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Southbank saw a line of slalom cones laid out for perhaps the first time in three decades. The cones were enjoyed by slalomites and non-slalomites alike, with younger street skaters trying out slalom boards, hearing tales from the Undercroft from before they were born, and exploring the cones in their own way. The banks got a good thrashing from young, old, and older alike, with Davros laying down a particularly sick tailslide. Rob Ashby, among others, brought along some brilliant photos from the 70s and 80s, and a great deal of reminiscing went down.

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Frank Nelson, who skated the Undercroft in the late 70s, said “Its great to see all these people that I’ve known for over thirty years. Its like I saw them yesterday. All my skate friends are the same. You don’t get that in any other sport I don’t think. Its the skating that keeps it all going”.

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Some legendary locals from a variety of eras turned up, including (in no particular order) Jim Slater, Paul Price, Martin Sweeney, Ed Brockman, Chris Linford, Dobie Campbell, Tim Leighton-Boyce, Curtis McCann, Barrington Jeffrey, Tony Luckhurst, Reuben Goodyear, Matt Gold, Stevan Shanks, Southbank Sam Holsgrove, Shane Obrien, Mad Mike, Davros Scudds, Tam Conroy, and quite a few others. Long live these friendships forged many years ago and still strong today. Long Live Skateboarding.

Long Live (and Love) Southbank!

Thank you to Derek Bremner for his fantastic photographs.

“WE ARE ALL SKATEBOARDERS” EXHIBITION

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Mural at the Undercroft by Seb Toussaint: http://sebtoussaint.com/

Mural at the Undercroft by Seb Toussaint: http://sebtoussaint.com/

The LLSB team are excited to be supporting the “We are all skateboarders” exhibition at Cultivate, Vyner Street, starting from next week.

The coalition of artists putting on the exhibition is a broad collection of sculptors, painters and art-makers, united by the common objective of standing together in support of the Undercroft community under threat.

Describing the motivation for their August exhibition, the group write; “The headline here is that the Southbank Centre Artistic director Jude Kelly and her Board’s latest tactic, in their response to objections being voiced to their plans to replace the existing skate park space with yet more coffee shops and retail opportunities, appears to be to try and portray the Save South Bank campaign as a simple case of selfish skateboarders versus art…We at Cultivate, as working contemporary artists (who, on the whole don’t know one end of a skateboard from another), feel strongly enough about the misleading tactics and cultural destruction being forced on us all by those who run the Southhbank Centre, to cancel our planned August First Thursday exhibition and instead put in a completely new show called WE ARE ALL SKATEBOARDERS.”

Humbled by this show of solidarity from the wider artistic community, the LLSB team will be supporting the exhibition and on hand to talk about our campaign to protect this piece of history. Here at LLSB we believe the Undercroft is for the many and not the few. We believe culture and community is made by minds, not money, and feel the Southbank Centre could take a lead from our grassroots way of thinking.

Our campaign is supported by creatives from all areas of the arts who have a mutal understanding for the unique artistic values upheld by the Undercroft’s inhabitants. We hope that our support of this exhibition will send a clear message that the arts are united against this unncessary cultural competition of one art form against another.

Opening night. First Thursday. August 1st, 6pm – 9pm and then 2nd until 13th August, usual gallery opening times

‘Under Questioning’ Feature LLSB

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Under Questioning investigates the controversial issue of the Southbank Undercroft facing closure following the Southbank Centre’s planning application. Video features an interview with our spokesperson, Henry Edwards-Wood. Henry explains the skaters’ point of view on the case and why it is important to save the Undercroft.