Archive for October, 2013

Zena Edwards “Long Live” poem for LLSB (extended film ft Tawiah & Zena in discussion)

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This extended ‘Long Live’ film features the thought-provoking poem by Zena Edwards with additional discussion by Zena and musician Tawiah.

The film provides a glimpse into one of the many conversations being had across the arts and wider community which firmly understands and supports the campaign for preservation.

Zena and Tawiah discuss some of the important issues surrounding the potential destruction of one of the most renowned and diverse art spaces created by people, without institution.

LLSB is committed to providing a platform for the conversation on art and culture over consumerism and commerce and free cultural expression over institutionalised cultural containment.

Southbank at the Venice Biennale (2012)

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Photo by Nico Saieh, http://bit.ly/SkqXNP

Photo by Nico Saieh
Credit ArchDaily http://bit.ly/SkqXNP

The area of Southbank known to locals as the Southbank Undercroft featured last year in the Venice Biennale in an exhibition called ”Public Works: Architecture by Civil Servants,” a display of architectural works created along ideological lines and intended to serve the greater good. The display reflected on the noble aims of 15 of these projects across Europe, funded by public servants to enhance the experience of the public in shared space, and explored their original and current state through a collection of photographic records.

In her coverage of the exhibition, Karissa Rosenfield writes, “Throughout Europe in the late 1960s and early 1970s, large public works departments employed architects to design a multitude of public buildings in an effort to serve the public cause. Reinier de Graaf describes this “heyday of public architecture” as “a short-lived, fragile period of naïve optimism – before the brutal rule of the market economy became the common denominator.””

The area underneath Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Rooms along Southbank was one such space designed with an altruistic purpose and adopted by the burgeoning skateboarding community from the mid-1970s, breathing life into the underbelly of the buildings for the ensuing decades. Reflecting on the exhibition spokesperson for LLSB, Henry Edwards-Wood, remarked;

“It is no surprise that the world-famous Southbank (Undercroft) was chosen as the backdrop to the Public Works exhibition. The show focuses on architects who wanted to change lives and affect social interaction in their municipalities. The Undercroft is a direct outcome of this “Utopian Vision of the future” – an evolved and refined manifestation of the open-minded forward-thinking of civic visionaries and the determination, ingenuity and love invested by true urban citizens working and cooperating for a better existence.

What is surprising to me is that, to this day, outdated opinions still dictate the arts and the elite refuse to acknowledge the rare and irreplaceable civic beauty of the Undercroft and it’s perpetual and unconditional spread of social wellbeing and human engagement in an ever more homogenised society. The world can learn from the Undercroft and its community. If only those whose decisions affect us all could look beyond their glass towers of influence and see that the future of arts is in the eyes of the young, not the comfortable.”

The inclusion of the Undercroft and its surroundings in exhibitions such as these demonstrates its undeniable relevance architecturally, historically and culturally to the London community. To destroy this unique concrete utopia would signal a fatal blow to the lofty optimism of an architectural heyday. If only Britain’s leading arts institution could understand that.

Watch this video of OMA Associate, Laura Baird, discussing the exhibition.

20th Century Society Plans1

Yesterday the Twentieth Century Society released an alternative design for the regeneration of the Southbank Centre’s buildings. In this new plan a ‘more modest scheme’ is suggested that would both reduce the scale of the Southbank Centre’s Festival Wing as well as provide an option to retain the Undercroft.

The Twentieth Century Society’s architect Sally Rendel’s less grandiose drawings incorporate all of the best of the SBC’s Festival Wing designs, which include covered service access to the Hayward Gallery and a pedestrianised space between the SBC and the Royal Festival Wing.  However, she significantly reduces the size, and subsequently the amount of funding needed, by leaving out the ‘Liner’ building. It would be a significant change that could allow for the preservation of the Undercroft.

The size of the proposed Festival Wing had not only been a noted concern of the Twentieth Century Society but had also been an issue expressed by Nick Hytner, artistic Director of the National Theatre and English Heritage. These new plans offer a compromise that would see that the SBC buildings receive the necessary redevelopment but does not ‘overpower’ the Southbank and the adjoining buildings or destroy an iconic skateboarding space.

Finally, Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft said: ‘This alternative vision shows that the South Bank Centre complex can easily accommodate change.

‘It is proof that imagination and understanding of the existing buildings could achieve a sustainable and sympathetic solution – an improved experience at the Southbank Centre, without the glass boxes that overwhelm and dwarf the site.”

The Society has tried four times to register the SBC as a Grade II listed building but have been rebuked each time and the building has since gained a Certificate of Immunity from English Heritage.

 

Last month, LLSB were invited to take part in a talk and discussion at the Architecture Foundation as part of their Culture + Commerce: Designs for a Different City series.

“Launched in part in response to the controversy surrounding the removal of the skate park from the Southbank undercroft, and the increasing elision of commerce and culture, the series asks what measures we can take to preserve the city as an affordable site for living, experimentation and cultural production.” 

Spokesperson Henry Edwards-Wood and LLSB legal representative Simon Ricketts explored the themes of intangible heritage, gentrification, the future of cities and the link between legislation and social wellbeing.

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After addressing the people gathered at the event and looking at the viewpoints from both the legal and community aspects, Henry and Simon took part in the Q & A section, which proved an insightful discussion. Once again the issue of the Undercoft was the hot topic, something LLSB has become used to as all the events at which we have been invited to have attracted a lot of interest and passion from people of diverse backgrounds and interests.

While the Southbank centre continue to ignore the voice of the Undercoft community and popular public opinion, discussions like these just go to show the relevance and significance of street skateboarding culture and how it resonates with wider society.

Click here To find out more about the Architecture foundation and the Culture + Commerce series

Long Live Southbank X Cliché with Andrew Brophy Skateboard

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We are proud to present in collaboration with Cliché and Andrew Brophy the first Long Live Southbank skateboard. The board presents the historical importance of the iconic space in a montage of photographs and includes the LLSB logo. All proceeds will go back into the campaign dedicated to the preservation of the historic Southbank Undercroft.

We would like to say a massive thank you for all the support from Cliché and Andrew Brophy and look forward to seeing the boards in stores.

 

Brophy Board

Dance and Disobedience – A Festival of Fusions Celebrating International Street Cultures

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A Festival of Fusions Celebrating International Street Cultures
12th October 2013
@ the Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

SEPT-DEMO-0149

Photograph by Dawn Crumpler

Fusing music, dance, visual arts, words and fashion the Dance & Disobedience Festival creates a common ground for all the cultures that use the streets as a playground for expression – come and join us at the Rich Mix for a celebration of the connections found in the urban environment.

Dance and Disobedience has been put together to benefit WOMA (World of Music and Arts Assists). WOMA is a charitable trust that helps widowed women across east Africa by giving small educational grants to help them gain professional skills; lifting them out of poverty and giving them a chance to develop independently.

Market of Mayhem
12-4pm Free Entry

Alongside groups like Skateistan, LLSB will be presenting our campaign with our usual stand of merchandise, information and membership sign up. Come along and support the cause.

Dance and Disobedience
7:30pm – 1am
£6 cons, £10 adv; £12 otd

Tickets available from the box office – 020 7613 7498 – www.richmix.org.uk

Plus
9th – 19th October 2013
An Exhibition for Playful Protagonists
Cafe Gallery, Free


Dawn Crumpler
will be showing photography documenting the Undercroft and its users alongside a diverse array of creativity, urban playfulness and international protest.

www.danceanddisobedience.com
www.facebook.com/dancedisobedience
http://www.womatrust.org

Tickets available from the box office – 020 7613 7498 – www.richmix.org.uk

On Mapping and Authenticity, guest blog by David Steele

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Approaching my mid forties, with nothing trendier in my wardrobe than a Fat Face jumper, I’m an unlikely candidate to become interested in the campaign to save the Undercroft.

Map by David Steele

Map by David Steele

I don’t skate, but I do appreciate the skill of the skaters. You don’t have to be a fish to enjoy the aquarium. I watch those skaters doing their thing and I’m instantly transported. To stop and watch an accomplished skater is to witness mastery. Each ride is its own meditation, with instinctive movements long dedicated to muscle memory, testimony to the hidden hours of repetition and practice that led to their flawless execution. To me, it’s no different from watching a tennis pro win at Wimbledon. Mastery is mastery. Just to witness it is, in some small way, to share in that moment.

I’ve been back to London many times in the last few years. I’ll take any excuse I can get for a trip back there. It’s my spiritual home, and of all the places in Britain that are important to me, the span of the South Bank between Westminster Bridge and HMS Belfast is about my favourite (with Bamburgh beach in close competition).

The Undercroft is valuable to me because it feels genuine. Just like that band you like – the one that only you know about because they haven’t sold out yet.  In the same way that a crowded market has more of a buzz than a Tesco Extra, there’s an authenticity that comes from its rough-hewn nature. This is the tree house rather than the village hall. It’s the never-ending game of soldiers in the back yard rather than corporate team building at the paint-ball centre. It’s make do and mend, complete with hard edges, dirty walls and nobody to complain to when things don’t go your way.

But this is precisely what’s under threat. The new plans from the South Bank Centre are to develop the Undercroft area with shops, small businesses, etc, which will help fund a number of community ventures, such as art programmes for young people. On its own, that’s something I’d support at the drop of a hat. Especially since it’s so difficult for small businesses to get a foot hold in this land of corporate giants.

But part of the plan involves taking the skaters away from the Undercroft and providing them with a custom-built skate area to call their own. And this is the part that makes me want to do something. It’s the mentality of the Indian Reservation. The very act of “giving” this space to the skaters that will be enough to make it fail. It becomes an act of charity and takes away the very essence of the place. In the words of Kate Bush – “What made it special made it dangerous”.

It’s little surprise to me that the skaters want to keep their park. It’s part of their identity. It’s pride. It means something to them.

You can’t manufacture that. You can’t distribute authenticity.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’ve mapped out the original Undercroft site. It’s my way of showing support to the cause. It’ll either serve as a reminder of what we have – or of what we lost.

I do hope it’s the former, for many years to come.

See the original post with downloadable PDF of the map at David’s website.

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Last night we hosted our very first LLSB event in collaboration with X-Treme Video at their store By Walski in Shoreditch. It was an evening dedicated to raising awareness for the cause and provided the perfect opportunity to present two of Southbank’s emerging talents in film and photography. We wanted to invite people to become a part of the Southbank community and to find out why this unique place needs to be preserved.

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We had the pleasure of showcasing photography from Southbank local Alec McLeish. Having skated the Undercroft for over 10 years Alec has a strong connection to both the space and its community, ‘everyone I know I met there’. Such a connection that when the Southbank Centre released the Festival Wing plans back in March Alec noticed a change in the mood at the Undercroft. It was no longer the safe place to go and skate and come together but instead there was a feeling that all of it could be lost. It was this tension that he wanted and has successfully captured.

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Filmmaker and LLSB spokesman Henry Edwards-Word gave a few words before the premiere of his new film. Moving away from his classic skateboard edits he wanted to create a film that provided the truths to all of the Southbank Centres misinformation. But it not only set the record straight; the film also succinctly highlighted the cultural and historical significance of the Southbank. The film is due to be released in the coming weeks.

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We would like to say a huge thank you to X-Treme and By Walski. It was a pleasure to collaborate with them and we could not of asked for a better venue. We would also like to thank everyone that came and showed their support. We can conclude that the evening was awesome and we think we achieved our aim of bringing a slice of the Southbank to Shoreditch.

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Alec’s photography will be at the By Walski store until 18th October and available for purchase. For sales please contact alecmc@hotmail.co.uk.

 

By Walski

59 Redchurch Street

Shoreditch

London

E2 7DJ

On the 25th of September the Southbank Centre sent out a public email titled ‘Update: Southbank Open Forum’. This email contained a number of false claims about both the Open Forum and Long Live Southbank. We have since contacted them twice to retract these claims and are disappointed to have received no response. In the interest of public transparency, this is our letter to them dated Friday 26th of September.

LLSB-SBC-15 Alan Bishop

Marc Vallée: Defensible Architecture and the Privatisation of the Undercroft

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Marc Vallee 5

photography by Marc Vallee

“The physical space of most American and some European cities is becoming privatised. And in the process of this privatisation, deviants who defy defensive architecture are prohibited, demonised and excluded. A class war is being fought, at the level of space. Along with this recapitulation of space goes an extensive iconography; a semiotics of exclusion which is spreading…” – Mike Davis, City of Quartz.

One of the first things that hit me about the proposed £120 million Southbank Centre redevelopment and it’s impact on the Undercroft skate spot was that this was effectively the privatisation of public space for profit.  Forty years of skateboarding history was no more then an inconvenience to be bulldoze in the name of sterile and blend retail units.

We are living in a time when local authorities are selling off record amounts of parks, playing fields and allotments to the private sector with little or no oversight from communities and local people.  Privatisation of the public realm along with arbitrary restrictions and controls is not only a threat to individual liberty it also reveals a fundamental democratic deficit. Skaters that occupy a public of semi-public space without engaging in economic activity are therefore prohibited and excluded.

Marc Vallee 1

Private corporations and local authorities use anti-skateboarding devices and defensible architecture with the expressed aim to reshape individual and group behaviour to discourage skaters from using a particular space.  These can be spotted outside offices, shopping malls and across city centres.  It started with crude add-ons but today architects and developers are factoring in how to exclude skaters and other so called anti-social elements at the design stage. All this is then backed-up with draconian by-laws, CCTV surveillance and private security.

We have come to a cross roads and we must ask what we want from our environment. Do we want a city where only the privileged elite are granted access? A city that only those who are able to flex some economic might are welcome?  Here is a nightmare scenario for you – skate stoppers outside a restaurant on the Southbank where the Undercroft used to be.

A class war over space? Sure sounds like it

Marc Vallee 3

Marc Vallée is a London-based documentary photographer and member of LLSB whose work covers the London graffiti scene, anti-skateboarding architecture, youth culture and political dissent.

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk