All posts in Blog

The Restoration Fundraiser Has Been Launched!!

Categories: Blog, Press, Press Release
Comments Off on The Restoration Fundraiser Has Been Launched!!

Big news from Long Live Southbank today… we’re rolling, and one step closer to restoring one of the most legendary spaces in skateboarding history! It has taken a tremendous amount of hard work from a lot of people to get us to where we are, so many thanks! We’ll be sure to thank you all, we really could not have done it without you.

We’re excited to say that planning permission has now been granted and, together with Southbank Centre, fundraising has commenced to restore sections of the Undercroft last skated in 2004. This is hugely important for skateboarders all around the world who look to Southbank for inspiration, for London’s cultural integrity, which needs somewhere like Southbank in the very heart of the city and for the local creatives who learn so much from such an inspiring free creative space with such a diverse and nurturing community.

Mark Gonzales Hippy Jump at Southbank, 1994. Photo by Skin Phillips

The Long Live Southbank family in the space to be restored, 2017. Photo by Fionn Hutton.

There is an incredible future to be created, and plenty you can do to make it happen. Donations are really important. You can make them at www.llsbdonate.com, and view a great set of rewards, from skateboarding lessons to limited photographic prints. Together with Southbank Centre, LLSB are responsible for raising the £790,000 required to restore the space and create a new schools and young people’s HQ adjacently. This is a huge task, and one we are relishing.

Long Live Southbank have a great deal planned for the summer of fundraising, including high profile art and photography shows and involvement at some of the UK’s top festivals.

Sign up to stay updated and join our 150,000 members at www.llsb.com. We can embark on the next phase of this journey all together!

James Parry Jones skating a DIY extension on the banks subject to the fundraiser. Photo by Rob Ashby

And stay in touch! If you have an idea for a fundraising event, think that there is somebody we really ought to speak to or just want to learn more about the campaign, you can email us at hello@llsb.com.

Whether you skate or not, this campaign is hugely important for the cultural fabric that we all inhabit. There is a huge opportunity to make a real positive change in the city, enriching our cultural life, giving young people the space to develop creatively and providing a much needed sense of community for us all. So donate if you are able, tell your friends and tell your family. Spread the word and let’s make this happen!

With all our thanks

The Long Live Southbank Family

 

Photo by Katya Ochagavia

The Long Live Southbank Guide To Saving A Skate Spot

Following on from the Kingpin Magazine article where LLSB give an insight into how to save your skate spot and run a successful campaign, here we publish our conversations with other campaigning groups we have worked with: Black Blocks in Atlanta, Drug Store in Norwich, Chopper in Kettering and Friends of Stockwell Skatepark in London.

Since the success of saving Southbank for future generations, LLSB has given advice, support and resources to numerous campaigns and scenes across the globe, whether they are fighting legal bans on skateboarding or the demolition of their skateparks.

Long Live Southbank (Est 2013, success 2014).

 

Interviewees:

Andrew Murrell and Jordan Smith – Save Black Blocks, Atlanta, Georgia (Est. 2016, success 2016).

Amanda Healy – Chopper Skate Store (now closed), Kettering (Est 2015, Council didn’t listen and this matter is ongoing).

Sam Avery – Drug Store, Norwich (Campaign Est. 2014, success 2014).

Matt Gold – Friends of Stockwell Skatepark London (Est. 2014, successfully preserved but looking for funds to maintain the park).

 

Why do you think some councils and authorities have such a negative view of skaters?

LLSB: Initially we were really surprised with the false image that was given of us as the ‘angry and aggressive delinquents’ and that it felt we couldn’t even express frustration that our 40 years of history and culture was going to be destroyed, without getting misrepresented.

Andrew: I supposed it’s based in preconceived notions of skateboarders as young teenagers, thugs, and troublemakers, rather than mature members of their respective communities. Although skateboarding has grown and matured quite a bit over the past several decades, the general public still views it as (something) like hula hooping or jump rope, for the most part. That, and street skateboarding is inherently destructive – there’s no denying that.

Amanda: It is just a matter of prejudice. The majority of councillors just base their opinion of skaters on their preconceived view without actually getting to know the skate community. Even when they do engage it is with a patronizing attitude. We did notice that in general the younger the councillors, the less prejudiced.

Sam: I think mostly they just don’t understand it. Skateboarding doesn’t fit into any easy category so they don’t know how to contain it or deal with it. Unfortunately that leads to fear and aggression rather than a desire to learn or understand.

Matt: Councils have little or no understanding of who skaters actually are so they fall back on stereotypes of disillusioned teenage troublemakers.

 

Savannah Keenan, Feeble Grind, Southbank 2016. Photo by Jenna Selby

 

Is their view justified with evidence or biased and without evidence?

LLSB: We soon realised that councils, developers and authorities use propaganda as a tactic to move their propositions forward. So we wanted to find ways of getting people to see us as we really are so we set up a table and made a bunch of films. The we started to take part in useful panel discussions – we started entering whole different worlds.

Andrew: Eh, yes and no. Like I mentioned, there’s no denying that young skateboarders have a particular reputation and the activity itself is destructive, but I feel that if authorities and lawmakers were to do some real research to determine who actually utilizes public spaces such as Black Blocks for skateboarding, their findings would be drastically different than their assumptions.

Amanda: Definitely biased without evidence, based around damage, safety and complaints. None of these were justified, there was no evidence of damage no accidents reported and only a handful of complaints in 3 years.

Sam: I think mostly it’s based on untrue perceptions of skateboarders as trouble making kids, which is obviously not true.

Matt: Biased and not based on any evidence in my opinion.

 

Protesting at the council offices in Norwich (UK). Photos by John Mattocks

 

What did you do once you heard the threat to skateboarding at your spot?

Andrew: We started the ‘Save Black Blocks’ petition the very night we learned of the plans to renovate Folk Art Park, the entire art display encapsulating Black Blocks. Word got out quick, and the campaign snowballed from there into what it is today.

Amanda: We alerted the community using social media, we contacted the council so they knew we thought it was unacceptable and we had received overwhelming support from all areas of society, got help from the save Southbank group, told the press and started a petition.

Sam: We rallied the scene together and aired our grievances to the council, the local media and through social media.

Matt: We formed an organisation (FoSS) so that the council had a recognisable body to deal with and gathered as much information/history as possible.

 

Friends of Stockwell Skatepark raising funds and awareness to protect the future of Brixton Beach

 

What did you do to gather the skate scene and get the campaign rolling?

Andrew: Atlanta has a small skate scene and luckily for us, everyone was on board and mostly on the same page from the get-go. Sharing the petition on Instagram pushed awareness from Atlanta skateboarders to southeastern skateboarders to skateboarders across the United States and, eventually, the world. We had contacts at Thrasher and the local news, and those were both invaluable in making skateboarders and the local authorities aware of the spots’ demise and the support we garnered, respectively. From there, we kicked off the fundraiser, which was a fantastic way to spread word of the spots’ demise while covering any and all overhead costs.

With the basic social media network set up, we were able to corral followers into letting their disappointment be known on the proper officials’ emails and public Facebook pages via short, respectful messages. As we were planning our television appearances and preparing to show up at meetings, we caught wind of an upcoming conference call regarding our petition between the Office of Cultural Affairs, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and Central Atlanta Progress — the three offices involved in the plans to renovate Folk Art Park. An executive from the Office of Cultural Affairs contacted me the next afternoon to offer a compromise, allowing skateboarders access to the spot while preserving the artwork, which we accepted.

Amanda: All we really had to do was communicate the message, skaters have such a great community we all got together and the rest just flowed.

Sam: Mostly Facebook to be honest. It’s a very useful tool for this kind of thing. I did speak to local newspapers and radio as well, which I think got us some support from people outside the scene. A lot more people than you might expect are opposed to public space being restricted.

Matt: We setup a membership list/social media accounts and spoke to everyone we know in the skateboarding community.

 

L: Andrew Murrell, Front Bluntside. C: Black Blocks under threat 2016. R: Black Blocks as it should be. Photos by David Morico

 

Do you think its important aspect to be seen to resist council or development plans?

Andrew: Absolutely. Although our efforts paid off before we started attending meetings, we were gearing up to start showing our faces at council meetings and start making a public fuss as soon as possible.

Amanda: There was genuine outrage and astonishment to the council’s plans, and given the reaction it was extremely important to resist their plans.

Sam: If the plans are negative and based on un-truths then yes, absolutely.

Matt: If people in general oppose council plans then it is essential to offer some opposition or resistance or the plans go ahead unopposed. It is your right as a resident to have input into these decisions.

 

 

What was wrong with the public consultation and do you think it was a genuine consultation?

Andrew: I’m willing to bet that whoever drafted and finalized the plans to knob Folk Art Park hadn’t spent more than a cumulative hour at Black Blocks so no, I’m not inclined to say it was a genuine consultation.

Amanda: We know of no community group that is in involved skateboarding that was contacted by the council during the public consultation, we only chanced upon it and alerted the wider community, so as far as consulting the actual people affected there was zero communication. It was only when we got support that the council wanted to be seen to engage with us.

Sam: No I think it was pretty narrow and one-sided. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or just a result of the lack of understanding I mentioned earlier.

Matt: As we did not ever hear about this consultation I would suggest that the process was very flawed and of little value. If active people like ourselves did not know about it then who did? Who was it aimed at?

 

Delivering objections to the local council and the LLSB Heritage Report to the Mayor of London. Photos by Dawn and John (LLSB)

 

Did you feel you had access to the decision makers?

Andrew: To an extent. We heard back from about half of the officials we emailed, but most of it was a roundabout sort of acknowledgement and a pass of the buck without offering any sort of resolution. Truthfully, the only way we heard about the meeting regarding our petition was by accident. The newscaster who was planning a story on the spot told us that the network was going to wait to air it until after the three aforementioned offices met, when they would provide a statement. We weren’t involved in the planning of that meeting whatsoever.

Amanda: Yes we did.

Sam: Yeah, I think it was fairly easy to get to the people who held the power. Changing their minds is a little harder though (laughs).

Matt: In this instance no as we didn’t know about it, in the past we have had to continually chase the council “decision makers” to make our voice heard and keep an eye on what they are doing “in our name”. Without this pressure who knows what they would have done.

 

 

How important is social media in a campaign?

LLSB: Tapping in to the creative community of Southbank was crucial. From the very early days of the campaign, the films by Henry Edwards-Wood and the illustrations by Rob Mathieson were super important at getting the visual messages and information to a wide audience of supporters who in turn helped spread the word. Skate media were also key in getting the word out.

Andrew: Social media is arguably the most important tool at your disposal. Thanks to Instagram and Facebook, you can push most anything from a local issue into an international issue with almost no effort, and skateboarders worldwide look out for each other. We were bombarded with overwhelming positivity and support almost immediately. I can’t count the number of people who reached out to us and I’d like to use this as an opportunity to publicly thank everyone for your tips, tools, time, and advice.

Jordan: Use social media as your amplifier and to your advantage, be respectful, leverage the entire skateboarding community, make your voice loud enough that the people behind closed doors can’t ignore you.

Amanda: Social media was extremely important, it is an easy way of reaching a large number of people, however it is also important to back it up we real life meetings etc.

Sam: Essential! I’m not a fan of Facebook at all but it’s very useful for these kinds of situations.

Matt: It is useful to spread the word and keep followers up to date with news and also to raise more support. However it is not very useful in terms of getting things done. It is very easy to passively support a campaign online without actually contributing anything concrete.

 

 

How important was it to reach out the the wider national and international skate scene?

Andrew: Very important. Convincing officials that Black Blocks was a cultural landmark renowned the world over may have been the deciding factor in allowing us to skate there, hassle-free. I don’t think anyone wants to end up looking like Philadelphia again.

Jordan: Super grateful for everyone that showed their support for our cause. It means the world to us because each person that shared our posts or signed our petition played such an integral role in the outcome.

Amanda: It is vital to reach out to the wider skate scene, that way they can be alerted to the fact this is what might be coming to them and maybe they can learn from our campaign and hopefully improve on it.

Sam: It helped us get a LOT more signatures on our petition (3000+) and I think it shows we are part of an international community that is actually a force to be reckoned with.

Matt: This was important up to a point, more support makes it harder to ignore a pressure group but in real terms it is only a very small group of people who are actively running our campaign and really making things happen.

 

L: Josh Kalis, noseblunt slide, Love Park (RIP) 2002. Photo by Mike Blabac. R: Theo from SkatePal reps LLSB at Love Park

 

What were the major issues or hurdles?

Andrew: Time and money, mostly. Everyone involved works full-time, so jumping aboard the campaign to save Black Blocks was essentially taking on a second job. As such, we only had three or four people really giving their all to the campaign, which is understandable.

Amanda: Not understanding the council’s rules and regulations at meetings gave them a big advantage and not being used to public speaking meant they made us look a bit foolish, which was a real shame. They had years of practice and for all the will in the world it is quite overwhelming when you have to stand in front of them and you haven’t done it before.

Sam: Mostly the time commitment for me. It’s a lot of work and that can be difficult to make time for it when you have a business to run and a family you know?

Matt: Still our major issue is funding, along the way problems have focused on motivating our volunteers (all of us are volunteers) and finding the time to run this campaign around our existing commitments , getting initial recognition from the council was very hard indeed and getting them to take responsibility is still proving problematic.

 

Tommy TG, Front feeble on Chris Oliver’s rail at the Southbank Forever campaign success jam. Photo by Ben Stewart

 

Any other tips for campaigns?

Andrew: Be proactive. Take control of the situation immediately and build your own destiny, rather than waiting for the city to provide you with an opportunity to voice your concerns. That may never happen.

Be positive and respectful. It may sound strange, but one of the biggest factors working against us was that we’re skateboarders — that is, we’re generally passionate and written off, to an extent. We had to tell everyone involved in the emailing process that, rather than attacking the decision-makers, we should remind them that we’re taxpaying citizens who are upset with their decision and hope that they could reconsider for the good of both the local Atlanta community and the skateboarding community worldwide.

Skateboarding is not a negative thing, and more people need to accept that.

Finally, just remember: closed mouths don’t get fed. If you don’t make your voice heard, you may never know what the final outcome could have been.

Amanda: Try and find someone on the council who is on your side who can fully alert you to the mechanics of a local council, if this is impossible be prepared and  ask what the rules for talking a meeting are and prepare and practice in front of each other beforehand so you can be a clear strong confident voice and they know they can’t run rings around you. Get as much support and help as you can.

Sam: Just don’t give up. These people are here to serve you, not the other way around.

Matt: Try to involve as many people as possible as it makes the workload much more tolerable, clear roles and task allocation are essential.

Don’t expect the council to look out for your best interests, they don’t know what these are unless you tell them.

Don’t give up, anything to do with local government moves at a snail’s pace so you have to play the long game. Try to remain polite even when you are faced with bullshit – this is very hard indeed as there is an insane amount of bullshit to deal with and often a complete lack of understanding of the real issues.

 

Domas and Tomek on the final day of the campaign table. Photo by Ben Stewart.

Campaigns you can support:

Petition to stop skateboarding being pushed out from Hotel de Ville

Petition to stop skateboarding being banned from Coventry City Centre:

Shaz Jaffer, Switch Flip, Kettering. Photo by Matt Clarke

 

‘SKATEBOARD NOTTINGHAM: Skateboarding and Nottingham’s Development’ by Chris Lawton, 2016.

 

Screenshot 2016-08-16 12.54.37

 

We’re stoked that LLSB keeps inspiring people and putting on pressure on local government to stop their habit of undemocratic support of consumerism over culture through draconian limited vision and self-serving politicians. Skateboarding is not a crime.  We’re gassed to read how an inspired generation continues to push for social change.

 
 
Chris, Senior Research Fellow from Nottingham Trent University, says;

“LLSB pretty much lead the way for a thoughtful approach to skateboarding in civic activism. For Nottingham City Council we put together a report on ‘skateboarding and urban economic development’, to help with a new project to develop a ‘plaza’ style skate facility outside Nottingham city centre. The report summarises the Ocean Howell article on Love Park/Philly and Richard Florida’s ideas, and bullet-points Gustav Svanborg Eden’s recent seminar on Skate Malmo, which might be useful for other groups in their own work with Local Government and other organisations, such as Sport England.  

I really hope we can avoid more Kettering-like situations. The idea that a town or city – with everything we know from the economic and social research on the importance of a young population for investment and spending in retail, the night-time economy, the creative and cultural sectors and in attracting knowledge intensive employers –  might actively attempt to drive younger people out of their centres is a worrying step. Not least because, at the same time, most towns and cities want to increase graduate retention and the progression of school and college students into further study or employment.  Most urban areas have younger populations than average, but many young people tend to move away from their home towns, resulting in net outward migration of a future workforce, creatives and business owners.  Many cities across the UK are vigorously pursuing strategies with ‘Creative Quarters’, including Norwich, Stoke-on-Trent and here in Nottingham – often using skateboarders in their marketing materials – whilst at the same time risking appearing hostile to the young and active.  I’m super optimistic we can change perceptions across the UK, and start building a good dialogue between skateboarders and Local Government.

LLSB and Skate Malmo are the inspiration for us to try to do this.

Keep up the good fight.”

 

To read the paper click on the link below or the image above;

SkateboardinginNottingham_June2016

Big up and thank you guys too!

Long Live SkateBoarding!

‘LONG LIVE SOUTHBANK: An Exploration into the Skateboard Community’s Relevance to Public Space Governance in London’ by Stuart Maclure, 2016.

LLSB by Stuart Maclure
 
Over the past 3 years Southbank and LLSB have featured in numerous student essays and dissertations across the UK and around the globe. We’re stoked to read how an inspired generation wants to make social change.
 
Stuart from the University of Leeds says;

 

“The Long Live Southbank campaign has provided an exemplary model for the protection of public space whilst simultaneously inspiring a generation of young people to galvanize, communicate and act when threatened by development forces that prioritise profit over community. This Interdisciplinary paper adds to New Urbanist discussion and puts forward pragmatic methods to redistribute power in our cities. Drawing from interviews with LLSB members, Southbank Locals, Lambeth Council and other pillars of London’s skateboarding scene, I critique planning practices in London alongside their Act of Parliament counterparts and argue for a new paradigm which, through improving consultation and the fostering of community empowerment and social capital, prioritises culture over commerce and community over capital”. 

 

To read Stuart’s paper click on the image above or the link below;

 

‘You Can’t Move History’ by Cayla Delardi

There’s also ‘You Can’t Move History’ by Cayla Delardi, 2015, who studied at New York University and wrote her senior thesis on skateboarding and the politics of space – which she told us was actually “inspired by LLSB”!. Cayla wrote an article off of the back of her paper, you can read the article here;
http://travelstudies.org/southbank-you-cant-move-history/

Yesterday, the 24th November, saw the finale of the ‘You Can’t Move History’ project, with a film screening, workshops and talks at the House of Vans, Waterloo.

d1fb02ec-00a9-497e-979e-4773c93614db

Organised by a team of academics and arts collective BrazenBunch aiming to investigate and broaden understanding of young people and heritage, the day brought together a wide range of policymakers from prominent institutions, to discuss the issue in the context of the Long Live Southbank campaign.

Published here is Long Live Southbank campaigner Louis Woodhead’s talk on the importance of space, heritage and restoring Southbank.

9903e9f4-eb1f-4bc5-82c2-692572101f99

I think for me Southbank has had a far greater impact on my life, and my personality, than any other place. It’s got such a feeling to it, such an atmosphere, just a little haven of charisma, somewhere truly underground in the middle of central London.

There’s this poster that was made by Long Live Southbank back in 2013, before I was part of the campaign. It is a panorama of Southbank. Written over the top are the words skate spot, community, gallery, landmark, museum, classroom, playground, icon, home.

That goes someway to showing how much Southbank can do for someone. For most users, it starts as somewhere to go and skate, or ride BMX, or paint. But then it becomes somewhere to find friends, or have those really memorable mind broadening conversations, or be amongst and think about brutalism. It is somewhere to go when you have nowhere else to go. Southbank’s connection with the homeless is deeply rooted, and I know of more than one skater who have arrived in London with nowhere else to sleep except for Southbank. It is deeply ingrained into my identity, and I can see Southbank’s influence in every element of my life, the way I speak to people, the way I approach work, the music that I listen to. It is a gallery, constantly morphing, growing, adapting. I hate the phrase ‘university of life’, but, as a place with such a rich mixture of human beings right, in the midst of some truly incredible architecture right in the heart of London, there are few places where you can learn more about our city. Every day you witness all these crazy dynamics between commuters, theatre goers, skaters from all over the world, local kids, the homeless, and just see it all come together by the riverside. My mate calls it the watering hole, it attracts all the different species. Its diversity is what makes it so interesting.

All sorts happens at Southbank. The brutalist shapes and the atmosphere is a big draw for photographers and videographers. There are inches and inches thick of paint on the walls, built up by countless graffiti writers who come down, or street artists, with their cans, their rollers, their wheatpaste. You get all sorts of wheels, skateboards, rollerblades, unicycles, wheelchairs, fixies, remote controlled cars, BMXers. There are dancers, people filming music videos, gymnasts. There’s a healthy scene of BMXers.

Southbank has given me some of my best friends. The campaign to save it has given me the opportunity to throw myself into something I’m truly passionate about, to write for publications, and to share my view with others. Southbank has inspired me to spend more time making art. It has taught me about belonging, architecture, addiction, homelessness, maturity, politics, journalism, migration. It inspired me to go travelling. But primarily for me, it’s a place to go and skate, to do something I love, to find new ways to move around the architecture and just enjoy the feeling of rolling around with a skateboard under my feet.

I still get a tingle of excitement every time I skate over Waterloo Bridge.

Skater poster 1

This is my experience of Southbank over just a few years. Now imagine individual after individual with their own experiences, and feelings about the place, from generation on generation, stretching back to 1973. Think about how many people have got a deep connection with the space, and the people they shared it with.

Think about all the layers of paint on the walls, all the tricks that have been landed, all the photos shot and the footage filmed. There’s not much to put in a museum, but you can see quite clearly that that is heritage.

And it is a very special place to skate. It was not designed with skateboarding in mind, the architects merely wanted to make a space open for interpretation. This makes it far more exciting and attractive for skateboarding than skating a council built Skate Park. The attraction is in the repurposing of architecture, in the fact that skaters made it was it is. There is also a great attraction in the spaces history. There is a real awareness of the tricks that have been landed in the past, in the ways it has been skated before. You can see physical marks at the bottom of the stairs and the tops of the banks. When someone opens up a new line, skates it in a new way, it is all the more exciting for the amount it has been skated before.

Locals at Southbank have a great familiarity with the architecture. We know where the cracks are instinctively, where the drain covers are, where there is a slightly raised paving slab. From love comes familiarity and from familiarity comes love.

Should such feelings be considered when discussing big development schemes? Is this mere sentimentality?

Many of the 150,000 people who signed up in support were spectators, who enjoyed spending time by the river, watching people skate, ride and paint walls. If a space touches that many people, that is surely strong evidence that it is a successful space. There is genuine culture that is meaningful to and influences a huge number of people. This should weigh very strongly in development decisions. When it does not, it raises big questions as to who is this city really being built for.

Most of the 150,000 signature were collected on the table. For me, this was one of the most positive aspects of the campaign. Every day we let ourselves into the backyard of this pizza place on Lower Marsh, got a box of membership slips, donation boxes and t shirts from our mate Joey’s house, and wheeled them over through waterloo station on this really rattley trolley.

Then we just sat and Southbank all day, talking to the public, answering their questions and telling them, as I just have to you, about what the space meant to us and how we were being treated. I think there is something really important about direct human contact in these debates. On the table, the debates were framed by those most directly affected by the proposed closure of the Undercroft.

When someone comes down, sees the space, and the everyday creativity for themselves, and can chat to a local head, who is there all the time, about the space and the situation, and exactly why they need signatures, I think that develops a far better understanding of the situation than almost any other method of communication.

Of course it requires a lot of commitment from a community to have a table up for 8 hours everyday, for more than a year. But it does mean you can have the debate in the most relevant space, with the most relevant people. You have somewhere where anyone can come and talk about the issue, and there were people who came back, time and time again, to talk about what was going on, and hear any developments.

However with the mainstream media, debates were framed in a very different way. It was a very poor vehicle with which to explore the issue. As much as we tried, it was impossible to talk well about the space that we loved in snappy soundbites. Debates on the issue were reduced to glib statements and point scoring. Everything was dumbed down and, as we adjusted for the media, we probably became more and more entrenched in our positions. Everyone became more guarded. A positive solution became harder to reach. Heavily spun half-facts were spread. People came to the table with ears full of misinformation.

After Boris Johnson’s statement in support of preserving the Undercroft, we got a call from the Evening Standard for comment. We emailed over something cautiously positive, well aware that we still had no long term guarantee for the space.  They replied asking for something a bit more ‘skater slang.’

Given the seriousness of the issue, I wasn’t really down to volunteer myself as the joke of the evening, for the sake of an easy pull quote. Nah. Not really. We decided to go fishing and emailed a quote attributed to Tommy Wright III, the well-known Tennessee gangster rapper. They bit, which was kind of nice and kind of worrying. I think that illustrates the level of fact checking, the level of seriousness you can expect from much of the mainstream media.

So, whilst the media can be a useful tool for a campaigner, I really would urge caution when it becomes the primary chamber for debating an issue. Above all, decisions should never, ever be based on media coverage.

3 sam ashley

But what should actually be discussed, what should actually matter, with decisions like these? Money? Property Rights? Tradition? Public opinion? Emotional attachment? Creativity? What is best for the city? Or the area? Or the most disadvantaged kids? Or the most promising kids? Or the people who’ve been around?

This debate, really, is about what we value as a society. Who do we want to cater for? What heritage do we want to prioritise? What future opportunities do we want to prioritise? And are we more concerned with heritage or the future?

I would argue that, when Long Live Southbank focussed on heritage, it was a very forward looking heritage argument. There were two strands. Firstly, this has worked for so long. For 40 years people have enjoyed themselves here, people have been extraordinarily creative, built a great sense of community. Why stop it now?

The second strand was that to have a space and a community that is rooted in its heritage does an awful lot for creativity and community in the future. When people skate, ride BMX or paint at Southbank, you take inspiration of how the space has already been used. Then you build on this, or work to find completely new tricks, or spots to paint. Where there is an existing community of people who have been coming down for 10, 20, 30 years, that can give an awful lot of guidance and help to younger generations. Without that continuity, it is a lot harder for really positive communities to continue to thrive.

I believe that heritage cannot be used as an argument in itself. ‘This space has great heritage’ shouldn’t be sufficient to win an argument. However heritage can often be a very forward looking thing.

Public opinion was also central to the debate and rightly so. People should be able to have a say in their cities development, and their opinions should be listened to. Many people feel that London is changing too fast, completely out of their control. The rate of development is incredibly high. New high rises are going up all the time, and places which locals hold dear are often trampled over. Just last week the Bussey Building in Peckham, which is a community rooted hub for theatre, spoken word and music, as well as being a hugely popular club came under threat from developers.

The issue of the Undercroft shows how much people care about these sorts of issues. 150,000 people signed a preservation statement. That is more than the conservative Party have members. However, on a great number of planning issues, there is not enough consultation of public opinion. Rarely are people asked what they value about their area, or how they want it to look and feel like. If opinions are to be expressed it is usually in a last ditch attempt to stop something, with a rather dull planning permission objection form, or such like.

llsbtablerain

But perhaps more important than the way in which debates are framed, is that debates occur at all. Had it not been for the courage of a handful of individuals to get the Long Live Southbank campaign off the ground, the debate may well have been non-existent. After 3 years spent drawing up plans without consultation, the destruction of Southbank as part of the Festival Wing plan was presented with no invitation to change it. It took hard work to even create the possibility of debate. Now I do think that the Southbank Centre have changed over the past 3 years.

However culturally valuable sites are ruined all the time. Around the same time that Southbank was kicking off, a few miles down the road in Burgess Park, Southwark Council were bulldozing a little DIY skate park. Over the previous year, skaters had chipped in for sand and cement, taught themselves how to mix concrete properly and made something quite unique to skate. It was popular with local kids. It was a truly organic development, and, as part of a boom in DIY skate park building, was already of heritage value. But there was no debate when it was bulldozed, just a couple weeks warning on a laminated notice.

Where people have started repurposing a space creatively, whether that involves gardening or street art or skateboarding, there is usually the potential for it to flourish with minimal interference. There is great rhetoric in councils and institutions about schemes coming ‘from the bottom up’, but this isn’t always applied.

But perhaps things are moving in the right direction. We’re trying to work a more positive model for planning with the Southbank Centre. Since 2004 and 2005, two thirds of the Undercroft has been boarded off. At the time, it was stated that this was only for a couple of years, whilst the space was used for storage.

We are now talking to the Southbank Centre about restoring this space, for all the free creative activities that already go on at Southbank.

There is a lot to discuss. Much of the space has been radically changed over the past year, so we need to think about funding for the restoration for starters. If anyone here has any suggestions about any of this then please give me a shout. We need to think about how the space will be, how it will feel, how to ensure that Southbank’s atmosphere is retained.

Cover Brophy-ollie-by-Dom-Marley

But it is something truly exciting. I feel like a lot of lessons have been learnt over the past 2 years, both by ourselves and the Southbank Centre, so the discussions we are now having are of a far more positive nature. There remains a lot of work to be done, however we’ve got this idea, opening up this much needed free creative space, a genuine space that already has decades of heritage. It would be a massive attraction to creatives across the world. All the positive effects that Southbank has on people’s lives would be multiplied with the increase in space. There would be more creative ways of using the space, more obstacles to explore, more people using the space, more locals given something positive to do, more friendships made, more inspiration for careers, more projects springing out of the place, more space if people don’t want to practice without spectators, more space for female skaters, more international visitors, more local kids inspired to travel, more progression in all the creative activities that go on there.

On one level, we share a lot of our hopes for the space with the Southbank Centre. This restoration is not going to happen tomorrow, but it feels like we’re making good progress. There’s a real feeling of enthusiasm, which is what happens when things are done the right way, when institutions are open minded, when communities take pride in their space and work to change it for the better.

Again, it is clear that heritage can and should be a very positive, forward looking thing.

LLSB: Southbank Undercroft ~ Proposal for Restoration of Original Design and Vision

To download your copy, please click the link below:

SOUTHBANK UNDERCROFT ~ Proposal for Restoration of Original Design and Vision

Last September, when we signed the agreement with the Southbank Centre protecting our skate spot in the long term, we were quite rightly pretty chuffed with ourselves and our patch of Waterloo paving stones that are beloved to so many. But the space that we had gained long term protection for was just one third of the size of the space discovered, and marvelled at by the skaters of 1973.

Eric Dressen - FS Grind on Wall

When first discovered, no doubt with wide eyes and incredulous smiles, the Undercroft stretched all the way back to Belvedere Road and featured all manner of features ripe for skating: the bank to wall, the little banks, the road gap. But over the course of time elements of the Undercroft were constricted, no doubt as part of the plan to remove skaters from the site – even though it was only the skaters and homeless using it. The scene, whilst remaining strong, lost skaters heartbroken by the restriction of access to their favourite parts. In 2005, when a huge chunk of the Southbank Undercroft was boarded off, the Southbank Centre promised that the hoardings were temporary, and the space would be returned after the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall. The illusion of a mere temporary closure took the wind out of any potential ‘Save Southbank’ campaign. The hoardings went up and are yet to come down. The Southbank Centre are yet to fulfil their promise. We would like to help them.

Today we release our Original Space Proposal. This 50 page report is not the climax of our campaign, it is a synopsis introduction. A more comprehensive document will be released in August. However it presents the case for the complete restoration of the Undercroft. Of course there is the moral argument. Promises have been made. Promises should be kept. But there are many more convincing arguments.

We are not asking for some integral part of the Southbank Centre to be returned to us. The areas of the Undercroft claimed by the Southbank Centre are currently used as a poorly frequented pop up bar, seasonally used exhibition space with similarly few humans, and storage space. On the other side of the temporary hoardings is a space which does capture the public’s imagination. The skate spot is highly frequented by skaters of all backgrounds. Here is a community of people captivated by activities such as skateboarding and un-commissioned street art and graffiti. We skate the painted walls. Hordes of people stand to watch us. Surely it makes sense to take down the hoardings and relieve the bar of its sombre empty existence.

Andrew Brophy by Dom Marley

Andrew Brophy by Dom Marley

Whilst the Southbank Centre has its role, it must accept its limitations. It straddles two inner city boroughs, yet singularly fails to engage with a wide range of people who one could label disadvantaged. For many youngers who have been getting in trouble, or recent immigrants, or people who aren’t white or people who can’t afford a drink in a Southbank Centre bar: these people find the skate spot to be their home. It is exceptionally rare for a space to bring such a broad range of people together as friends. Of my closest friends at the skate spot, at least 6 came to Britain knowing almost nobody, and found the Undercroft to be the place which welcomed them. And they could not have been welcomed by a better place. The free, easy going creativity of the community, the inspiring architecture and the presence of hugely talented professional skateboarders, photographers and filmmakers open up countless doors. It is no coincidence that so many highly successful creatives are locals, or former locals at Southbank.

There is also an intergenerational conversation at the Undercroft which seldom occurs within formal arts institutions. With ‘authority’ and formality often comes condescension and ageism. The longevity of the skate spot (it is the longest continually skated in the world) means that the community spans generations. However, unlike in many formal arts institutions, the diversity, and following lack of cliques makes it quite natural for a 16 year old to become good mates with a 36 year old. Many organisations, including the Southbank Centre (whether they choose to admit it or not), try to artificially replicate what happens perfectly naturally at Southbank, bandying about buzzwords such as ‘mentoring’ and phrases like ‘a guiding hand’. But artificially constructed relationships are not the same.

At Southbank, over 40 years a creative community has developed organically, amongst brutalist architecture perfect for skateboarding and besides a river perfect for allowing a community to grow. Since the late 80s, the community has been slowly constricted. An ever decreasing space, with ever less features to skate would never hold a community as large as it did in the late 70s, when hundreds of skaters frequented the Undercroft on weekends.

We know that the Undercroft can fulfil a communal function that no institution can replicate. Here, young people, marginalised people are engaged day after day by hugely creative, healthy activities. We would like to work with the Southbank Centre, take down the temporary hoardings, repair any damage that has been done to the original design and let Southbank flourish. Just imagine the potential.

Nothing is impossible, as over 150,000 of us showed. Together we can let the Undercroft breathe again – we can bring it back to life.

Anyone interested in helping out can drop us a line at info@llsb.com

 

You Can’t Move History ~ But You Can Build A Future!

Beyond The Lens: Interview with Jenna Selby

A Hemel Hempstead native, Jenna Selby started skating in 1998, around the same time that her interest in photography was developing. She spent many years shooting photos of female skaters for Cooler Magazine, alongside running Rogue Skateboards, now in their 10th year, and organising the annual Girl Skate Jam at Pioneer Skatepark since 2002! We caught up with Jenna as her film ‘Days Like These’, which will feature a selection of the industry’s top female riders from around the UK and Ireland, is being edited together ahead of the 5th December 2015 screening. 

Lucy Adams_Cooler Magazine_Interview

Lucy Adams – Ollies a cone at Southbank. LA interview for Cooler Magazine

 

Always good to start at the beginning so tell us about the time you first wanted a board and how it came to be that you got hold of your first deck…

I met a girl called Dee Sansom through London clubs I used to go to in the late 90’s. We became good friends; she’d been riding for 10 years previous and persuaded me that I needed to buy a board. I found a Zorlak ‘H20’ deck for sale in an American zine and as I really liked the band and the price (it was only $20) I thought what a bargain. That was until I got hit with the import duty of £20. I got the rest of the set up, including wheels that resembled bearing coverings from Clarkes Skates in St Albans and had my first roll down the hill from the cathedral. I was hooked from there on in and went on to spend many evenings riding outside C&A in Watford. As Dee was from Slough I would meet her down at Southbank at the weekends.

Jenna_Selby_Seattle

Jenna Selby – Back Noseslide at Wheels of Fortune Comp in Seattle May 2015

And when did photography come into the equation… when did you first start picking up a camera and did you think that was the path you would follow professionally?

It was just one of those things that happened by chance. I was originally planning to study Geography at uni and had just started my second year of A-Levels. One day a friend asked if I wanted to come along with him to his photography evening class. I was given someone else’s negatives to work with – a shot of a cornfield – but from the moment I saw my first print appearing on the paper I knew that I wanted to become a photographer. I went into college the next day and signed up to A-level photography, crammed two years of work into one, it then went on to become my degree.

Your future literally appeared before your eyes! And now that it has become your vocation, how do you strike a balance between skateboarding photography, filming and paying bills?

My work is split between working as a photographer for companies and local councils and as a Photoshop Trainer. As I am a freelancer I can organise my time to work around photographing/filming skateboarding as well.

Sorted. What are your preferred camera equipment and lenses you work with, especially when you’re out shooting skateboarding?

I use the Canon 5D Mark 2; it’s a sturdy workhorse for both filming and photography. I’ve always loved Canon cameras, the way they feel and operate – I never got along with Nikons. It’s a bit like the PC/Mac thing – although they both do the same job one just works better with my brain. The two lenses I use on a regular basis are the 50mm f1.4 and the 15mm f2.8 fisheye. I also have a 300m lens as well as a couple of zoom lenses. I’m not sure I can say I have a particular favourite lens but I do tend to stick with the primes when shooting skating. I think it is more important for me as to which lens will give me the result I am envisaging with the skater and the environment that they are in, a bit like how you see something in the street as a skater and imagine what you could do on it – it’s the same for photography – if that makes sense? I used to shoot a lot of my skate images on film using the Canon T-90, my favourite lens then being the 85mm fd f1.2 lens (mainly because it was so beautiful to look through!) but in recent years with the turn around of images having to be a lot quicker for what we are doing and also the price of film/scanning going up – the balance has tipped more in favour of digital.

 

Yeah, that all makes perfect sense! Good tips. Along with the photography you also set up Rogue. When did you first start thinking about setting up a board company and  and what were your hopes for it?

Towards the end of my degree in 2002 I was taken on as a rider for the newly formed UK Gallaz team (sister company to Globe) along with Lucy Adams, Julie Bevis, Ro Brannon, the Hesketh Twins and Laura Crane. The initial idea for promoting female riders around the world by Gallaz was brilliant and their main team of riders comprised of names like Vanessa Torres, Amy Caron and Jaime Reyes. They put out the first ever all female skate film: AKA Girl Skater and suddenly women were being invited to skate at all of the major comps.

Unfortunately though it seemed the only coverage we were given in the UK centred on health and fitness. Any interview we did, the answers would be twisted so much that in one interview for ES Magazine I was quoted as saying doing 10 ollies means that I can burn x amount of calories per session. I did wonder why they even bothered to ask us questions!

I became more and more frustrated with the way that female skaters were being portrayed and by the fact that the skate mags at the time were giving only very limited coverage if any. I started chatting to the other girls who I’d met around the comp circuit and I started to think perhaps if we could put our own team together, a: we would have more control over the coverage we received and b: if as a team we went to spots and parks on a regular basis, skate mags might be more likely to take notice of what was going on and give these girls and women proper coverage. It was also hoped that the team could act as a platform for female riders to become recognised for their talents and act as a stepping-stone to help them move onto other things.

In 2005 Rogue came about, the original team included Lucy Adams, Maria Falbo, Laura Crane, myself and Sadie Hollins.

 

Original Rogue Team up at the drainage overflow in Telford in 2005, just after getting together

Original Rogue Team up at the drainage overflow in Telford in 2005, just after getting together

And its been great to see how Rogue has continued to be around while things have evolved with regard to women and girls in skateboarding. It’s changing again now with more and more females being recognised for more than just health and fitness!  There are some sick riders continuing to push the benchmark and challenge perceptions. How does being a female skater in the UK compare to how it did a decade ago?

I guess it has changed a lot in that time, mainly due to social media. 10 years ago there was a core group of faces on the female skate scene, there weren’t a huge amount of new riders coming through at the time. Then over the last few years, women started using Instagram and Facebook more to their advantage – setting up groups, letting people know what was going on in their local areas, hooking them up with other female riders etc and suddenly there seems to have been an explosion in numbers – especially with a load of groms coming through.

I have heard from some American friends that with the talks going on to include skating in the Olympics, the organisers of Street League will start having to include female riders in what they are doing as the committee have to present the ‘sport’ on an equal footing. Although I am in two minds as to whether it is a good thing, at the very least if it does present skating as something anyone can do (female or male) to the younger generation, that isn’t a bad thing.

The more it is out there the more it becomes the norm and social media has definitely helped push it out to a wider audience but yeah, preferably legit core means rather than the Olympics. Talking about coverage, you recently released a trailer for ‘Days Like These’. To what extent is it a Rogue Skateboards film, or a scene video highlighting female skating in the UK?

The last film we made started out as a Rogue film but ended up being a bit of a free for all – so I thought, that one worked so we should run this one along the same lines. DLT will be a UK and Irish female skate film, plus friends – the free for all has extended slightly further to Austria this time, with Julia Brueckler on board. It will include sections from all of the current Rogue riders as well as from seasoned favourites like Lucy Adams, Camilla Mullins, Stef Nurding and the new younger rippers Josie Millard and Ireland’s finest, a definite one to watch for the future Sabine Haller.

Josie Millard Kickflip in Brighton

Josie Millard – Kickflip on Brighton Uni steps while filming for ‘Days Like These’

How much have you travelled and where did you head out to for the video, and what was the gnarliest situation you ran into while filming and travelling around?

I’ve recently been over to Seattle to film with Julia who killed every spot she went to! We’ve also been out to Budapest, down to Brighton, over to Wales, the Midlands and a fair bit in London. Over the summer there are trips planned to film with the northern ladies, up to Scotland and also over to Ireland.

For this video I have to admit it’s been pretty tame so far. I think the worst we’ve had really was the day out filming with Camilla Mullins and just getting kicked off every spot we went to within 2 minutes of arriving by very polite security guards – it makes it very difficult to refuse when they are being so nice and apologising for having to chuck us off!

Julia Brueckler Back Noseslide in Seattle

Julia Brueckler – Back Noseslide in Seattle while filming for ‘Days Like These’

 

Once you have all the content of films and photos to get out to the world, to what extent do you think that skateboarding media, videos and photos in magazines are important in furthering female skating?

It’s the same as it is for the guys – the more coverage there is can only be a good thing. The more coverage riders get the more the readership or audience can relate and take interest. You also create role models for the younger generation to take interest in – you only need look at the video parts out there: Elissa Steamer in Welcome to Hell, Alexis Sablone/Wonderful Horrible Life and Marissa Dal Santo’s section in Strange World to see how these have helped change views already.

When Cooler was taken out of circulation last year, it was a big loss. Although some of the lifestyle articles were sometimes a little questionable (I appreciate they had a market to hit though) it was the first magazine to have regular interviews and articles on female skaters from the UK and around the world. Double paged photographs of riders doing tricks and not just carrying their boards and interviews centred actually around their skating. The magazine did a lot to raise awareness of the profiles of riders out there and there has been a big hole left since it went.

Hopefully something will come along to fill the void and get things pushing onwards and upwards. What about female skaters in countries outside the US and UK.. how are they kicking it right now?

There are so many individual skaters like Julia Brueckler (Austria), Candi Jacobs (Netherlands), Evelien Bouilliart and (Belgium) who have all competed at the X-Games at one time or another and have been killing it for some years. There are strong scenes in Australia, other countries in Europe, Japan and South America especially Argentina with Girls Assault. Brazil seems to be churning out the main stage talent at the moment with the likes of Leticia Buffoni, Pamela Rosa and Gabi Mazetto who all placed in the top 10 at this years X-Games.

Yeah there’s some interesting things happening in the Brazil and Japan scenes. Elissa Steamer recently got inducted into the Skateboarding Hall Of Fame and joins the likes of Wendy Bearer Bull, Peggy Oki, Laura Thornhill Caswell, Patti McGee and Ellen O’Neal. Do you hope for a day where its just ‘skateboarder’ and not ‘female skateboarder’ or do you think being gender specific has value, benefits and importance?

Ideally it would be like how they approach it with Skateistan – skaters are just skaters. And I believe that most of the time this is true in skateboarding at a grass roots level. Unfortunately though with things like the lack of coverage, lack of female riders represented on teams you do come to realise that the only way we can change this is by making it gender specific. It’s not a right or wrong thing but just the way it is at the moment.

Coverage creates change. Back in 2009 you released ‘As If, And What?’. What advice would you give to someone embarking on making a full-length video?

Have a plan and system in mind. I made the first film with no real idea of what I was doing (I should say absolutely no idea) and after a year of filming, I spent 3 months trawling through tapes and tapes of footage. This time around I am downloading and cataloguing the footage within a day of filming. Also decide who the main riders are going to be – try and work with riders who understand what it involves to make a video (time and patience!) and give yourself a timeframe to work to. It is also useful to think early on about where you would like to show it when it is finished, if it is a well used space make sure you get in early to book it.

Jenna and the orginal Gallaz Crew sitting opposite the old hip at Southbank

Jenna and the orginal Gallaz Crew sitting opposite the old hip at Southbank

Rad advice for the budding next gen of filmmers! Let’s travel even further back in time… You’ve been taking photos at Southbank since the 90s. What are your memories from that time and how has the space changed since then?

I guess it felt more of a place for us rather than being a show for the public. It was a lot quieter around the river front back then compared to how it is now. You could use all of the space under the Festival Hall and we used to stay there well into the evening messing about on the different banks and chatting to other friends who we only saw at weekends when everyone could travel. No one was interested in skaters back then so we really were left to our own devices – looking back I do realise it really was a good time to experience the space.

Yeah it was a different experience. Each generation has their Southbank stories. What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken at SB?

Probably the one of Caroline Dynibil sitting on the block – it was just one of those moments you capture when nothing has been set up, she was relaxed and the summer evening light was at its best and it just showed the enjoyment of just being out with your board for me.

Caroline Dynbil at Southbank

Caroline Dynbil – article on female skaters of Southbank for Cooler Magazine

And what about your favourite Southbank photo by someone else and why?

There was one shot by Richie Hopson, I can’t remember who the skater was but it was taken at night, back in the early 00’s. I remember it being one of those photos that made me think ‘I want to take images like that’. He was kind enough to give me some tips back when I was first starting out and that picture has always stuck in my mind.

Passing on and sharing the knowledge, a Southbank tradition! Finally, when can we expect to see the full edit of Days Like These come out? We’re hyped about it!

It’s earmarked for showing at the House of Vans on the 5th December with an accompanying photo exhibition.

Sick. We’ll be in attendance for sure! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Jenna and hopefully soon we’ll just be talking about skateboarding instead of having to differentiate between genders. Skateboarding has the capacity to bring unity and equality!

 

All images by Jenna Selby. Check out these links for more Selby associated radness.

 

‘Days Like These’ will be screened at House of Vans, London, on the 5th December 2015
Amy Ram Front Rock at Hemel Hempstead

Amy Ram – Rock and Rolling the deep end at XC, Hemel Hempstead

Iain Borden was recently interviewed in FakieHillBomb, where he made several comments regarding Southbank skate spot and we the community, so we thought we’d clear a few things up.

DSC_2250

Objection to destruction delivery day 2014 – Image by Sophia Bennett

 

Firstly, we want to clarify that Professor Iain Borden was never part of the Long Live Southbank campaign and is not a current user of Southbank Undercroft and therefore anything he says about either subject is from an unqualified position and at best, sketchy. Sure he did a film interview with us, and one of the many meetings we organised was at his office back in early June 2013, but by the end of that same month he was already in dialogue with the Southbank Centre about a ‘design brief’ for the intended ‘replacement'(“relocation”) site for ‘urban‘ activities at Hungerford Bridge. However we at LLSB were 100% fully focused on building a campaign that would save Southbank skate spot from short-sighted, commercially-driven, careerist decision making.

 

Secondly, Iain does not engage in discussion with the community of the current Undercroft, and while he is still pushing a covert negative portrayal of the space, we as a community are just getting on with things and enjoying our home with the positivity it – and we – deserve after 5 decades of defending it. Especially with the amazing positive vibe since we signed the agreement to protect the space for future generations and the new faces and crews who come down and jam at Southbank.

 

So let‘s unpack what‘s going on in this interview…

 

The interview featured comments on the proposed Hungerford Bridge space as well as presumptions and assumptions about Southbank skate spot and the Community and how we think. But hey, everyone‘s entitled to an opinion. It just needs a little careful watching when it‘s a perceived ‘expert’ opinion.

 

Let‘s remember that Iain was commissioned by the SBC to produce an “urban” performing arts area (cunningly labelled a ‘skateable space’ to sell it to the public) and during his employment in developing the Hungerford Bridge site he revealed just how out of touch he really was, and still is.

 

Let’s also remember that the Southbank Undercroft community is an independent community first established in the 1970s – a full decade before Southbank Centre Ltd took over management from the Greater London Council and the public space became a private estate. Our significance and independence is recognised by Lambeth Council in the listing of us as an Asset of Community Value and their statement that “the skateboarding park could be considered, in the officer’s opinion, as a separate entity, as it is not wholly dependent on the Southbank Centre.”

 

 

The ‘alternative’ site

 

Prof Borden says; “I worked with the Southbank Centre to look at the alternative site underneath Hungerford Bridge, but we always wanted that to be a viable alternative if the Undercroft did indeed get closed down“.

 

Ermmm yeh, about that…

 

You take an ‘alternative’ route if the road you normally go down is closed and you need to find another way to your destination. The route isn’t important, the destination is. But you do not hang up an ‘alternative’ painting because the Mona Lisa has been destroyed. We put it across many a time that there was no ‘alternative’ or ‘replacement’ for Southbank – it was in fact the shutting down and destroying of something uniquely organic and firmly established, and the starting of something completely new which is controlled and contrived, and ultimately the 2 are unconnected. Arrogantly self-proclaiming the proposed Hungerford Bridge theoretical design ‘world class’ in a press release before even a brick had been laid fooled no one.

 

 

bird-shit        mellow-banks

Illustrations of Bird Shit Banks before Southbank Centre destroyed them to rid the area of skaters before ironically designating the area for ‘skating’ in order to create ‘prime retail space’.  Illustrations by James Jarvis and Andy Smoke   

 

So it wasn’t and never will be a “viable alternative space”; it was a new space, a risky experiment that ignored all the warning signs. One that could be hired out, would feature events with commercial retail and be programmed with all kinds of activities unrelated to the 40 year old Southbank Undercroft culture and traditions. This was a camouflaged slow erosion of skateboarding at Southbank under the guise of it’s “bigger and better” – neither of which was true. The Southbank Centre planning application for Hungerford Bridge stated it was to;

 

“create a space for skateboarding, BMX riding, Parkour, street writing and other arts and cultural events.“ and “the design for the Hungerford Bridge site should allow for the possibility of hosting events-based programming, such as skateboard competitions and dance performances.”

 

Great, then go ahead and do that. Just don’t go pretending it’s the “new undercroft”. Yep they went so far as to promote it as the ‘Hungerford Bridge Undercroft’. A lil’ education lesson for them;

 

Undercroft (noun): the crypt of a church. (Architecture) an underground chamber, such as a church crypt, often with a vaulted ceiling

 

Hungerford Bridge was/is a… well you already guessed eh – a bridge no less.

 

If things would had have gone the Borden/Southbank Centre way skateboarding would have been fully co-opted and absorbed into the constraints of institutional governance and bland formulaic visions that stifle creativity. Again no one was fooled – no matter how many times Artistic Director Jude Kelly said “our skateboarders”. We never were hers and never will be. We are a creative community of human beings – not a commodity or collateral for careerism or anything else – and we cannot be owned and we cannot be bought – as we clearly showed.

 

In press releases Southbank Centre and Iain Borden stated that the skateboard community was divided about the Undercroft and the Hungerford Bridge. This was pure propaganda and completely false as we clearly showed through our campaign where the international, UK and London skate scene were completely behind the united call for the preservation of the Undercroft. SBC and Iain Borden were so confused during this period that they didn’t even know if they had 1, 2 or 3 ‘professional skateboarders’ on their tiny ‘design panel‘. Turns out there probably wasn’t even 1 as they incorrectly called one person a pro skater who actually wasn’t, and the others wished to remain ‘anonymous’. None of us were buying it.

 

Of course he is entitled to his view, as are the 150,000 of us that supported Southbank preservation and the 40,000 individual planning objections. But to try to force an idea on people who have clearly stated issues, concerns and objections with the design, the layout, the governance is, in its most basic form, wholly undemocratic. Besides, no one would want to skate a design that contained anti-skating features. Hungerford Bridge was a very confused knee-jerk reaction to the popularity of preservation of the Undercroft. The public designs of Hungerford Bridge were only theoretical and not truly representative of the actual size and design possibilities. A fundamental flaw was the noise factor of the high volume of trains. Anyone who knows anything about skateboarding would know how important being able to hear other skateboarders around you is.

 

As for “if the Undercroft did indeed get closed down”; we told Iain that was not an option for us. At its very core, skateboarding is about committing and Iain seems to have bailed before even the first try of the trick.

 

He continues that “skateboarding is generally being welcomed and appreciated as an urban phenomenon, and is not being sidelined, sidetracked or marginalised”. Well, while Iain has been sleeping, the crew of LLSB have been working really hard to stop the destruction of skateparks, skatespots and the introduction of public spaces protection orders (PSPO’s) all across the UK and indeed the globe. Iain may be hanging up his skate shoes but we in the skate scene have a long way to go before skateboarding is not considered a crime.

 

And where was Prof Borden’s voice in response to the continued ‘white-male-middle class’ rhetoric that came out of the mouths of his SBC colleagues in regard to the Undercroft? Or maybe out-of-touch Iain agreed with them and would rather bypass the reality and evidence of the social, gender, heritage and generational equality at Southbank. Maybe they all at SBC think mainstream society has sorted itself out and is fully equal for women and people other than white. Just look at the diverse SBC board of governors… oh wait. Our bad, they are all socially comfortable white people (and some tick-box boughie schmoozer-to-the-arts-‘elite’ ex-radio 1Xtra DJ joker called Nihal). Okay let’s take a lead by example from SBC senior management then – oh wait… same old same old. Ne’er mind, let’s crack open a bottle of the finest hypocrisy and pour a glass while we wait for SBC to catch up with colourful pallet of the population rather the closed cupboard of arts chumocracy .

 

But he goes on….

 

 

The old ‘them and us’ tactic

 

Iain regrets that “it turned into such an opposition into the Undercroft vs Hungerford Bridge, where these two spots were being completely contrasted to each other.”

 

Opposition always came from the Southbank Centre, it was them that pitched the skateboarders against youth jazz musicians and others creative practitioners at SBC and also mislead the public of what the Hungerford Bridge really was and demonised and vilified the skateboard community at every opportunity as part of their campaign. They even crudely paraded young people they had misinformed at a public discussion chaired by local MP’s. It was cringe worthy to watch, and pretty disturbing and very concerning. But yet again, no one was fooled. The divide and conquer methodology is not the way you engage in engaging and communicating with people.

AN23865528Young-man-skating

Incredibly divisive and patronising ‘Battle for the Southbank: Skater kids v jazz warriors‘ loaded article by Jude Kelly’s mates over at the Evening Standard

 

 

He continues; “it would have been good to have a somewhat more open debate about this.”

 

In terms of “the open debate” the Southbank Centre stated categorically on practically every occasion that we were not allowed to discuss the preservation of the Undercroft. The subject was censored. You can hear it clearly in our The Bigger Picture campaign film. It was always a one sided conversation with a closed door in terms of talking about preserving the Undercroft. That did not begin with us.

 

 

The ‘zoo’

 

It was the Southbank Centre that put up the Barriers and it is the SBC who benefit from the huge volume of people who specifically come to watch skateboarding at Southbank. If the Original Space was never removed or restricted under the promise of its return, this would not have been an issue. The spectator effect is a direct result of Southbank Centre’s reduction of the original design and floor space.

 

“I think the Hungerford Bridge site would be even more open to the public, and also integrated with them – Søren’s designs were all about bringing the public into the skate site, making it seem more like a real public space that is good to skate, rather than the pseudo-skate plaza which the Undercroft can sometimes seem like, with a bounding fence and them-and-us separation of skaters and non-skaters.”

 

Ahhhh Iain, lest you forget ‘Southbank Centre’ is a private estate. It is us that are truly trying to reclaim the space for and by the people – not your Hungerford Bridge fiasco.

 

Even though the Undercroft is a barriered space, the public still have full access to it and no one ever restricts them to it. We saved it for everybody but we should all also respect traditions and indigenous culture. Does Iain really think that with a riverside walk that stretches for miles, the general public really needs another space to eat a sandwich in the name of ‘integration’?

 

 

Southbank and the future

 

Iain said he ‘sometimes worries’ about the history and atmosphere about Southbank. Well we can help there; no need to worry we’re chillin’ and having a great time and hyped about what the future of Southbank will be as we see the youngers and next generations shred SB with ever-increasing style and vigor.

 

The Undercroft is not a “skate plaza”, no matter what happens it is still a found space and a street spot. People from all over the world state how tough it is to skate it and that it prepares skateboarders for the streets.

 

x

The Terraces before they were lost to yet more commercial unites that continue to engulf the Southbank Centre. Lucien Clarke ~ image by Henry Kingsford

 

In terms of other skateable spaces around Southbank anyone in the skateboard community knows there are skate spots all over the Southbank Centre site as can be seen in many photographs of people like Rory Milanes, Lucien Clarke, Ben Jobe, Neil Smith, Winston Whitter. If the SBC wants to be truly progressive why don’t they open up the site to be fully skateable and not to send security? With so much space on the Southbank for the public to eat, drink, stand, sit, walk, and such limited space for ungoverned creative expression, it’s unbalanced and ridiculous to say that new spaces should be “even more open to the public, and also integrated with them”.

 

By Ian Borden’s own analyses and analogy of “them and us” separation, should we then suggest that the Royal Festival Hall audience get up and out of their seats and sit amongst the Orchestra on the stage, in the name of Unity?

 

If we’re to focus our energy on the future of Southbank for the next generations then we the community will be investing that into something useful like the reclamation and restoration the entire Undercroft space as it was in the beginning… not forcing all “urban” art forms and practices into a tiny pigeon hole formally known as Bird Shit Banks – and never destined to be ‘Hungerford Undercroft’.

 

To read the original interview with Iain Borden click here;

An Interview with Professor Iain Borden on Southbank and Skatepark Design from the 1970s to the Present

Beyond The Lens: Interview with Sam Ashley, Photo Editor at Free Skateboard Magazine

 

LLSB caught up with renowned London-based skate photographer, Sam Ashley, who found time to talk to us ahead of launching the new pan-European skateboard magazine, Free Skate Mag. Sam has been a staple in the UK skate scene for over a decade with his photos gracing a great deal of magazine covers. He also was an integral part of the Long Live Southbank campaign.


sidewalk-196   
splash-gallery-091104

 

Thanks for taking time out to chat to us Sam, we know you’re always super busy! Let’s crack straight into it and start at where it all began… how did you first get into shooting skate photos and what camera did you first start working with?

 

Getting into skate photography just came from reading skate mags in the late eighties. If I wasn’t skateboarding I was obsessively reading these things. I figured it would be cool to shoot my friends and try and make it look like the stuff we saw in magazines. My first camera was a really crappy plastic point and shoot, it really wasn’t capable of achieving the results I wanted, which at the time would’ve been something that looked like it was from R.A.D. or Transworld. I probably wasted quite a bit of film through this thing before finally giving up. I didn’t really shoot much again until the mid-nineties, by which point I’d managed to persuade my school to let me use a darkroom, that kind of changed everything, as it allowed me to understand how the physics of photography worked. Soon after that I bought a Nikon FE2, and ended up using that camera for about 15 years after.

 

natejones

Nate Jones by Sam Ashley (2004)

 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it eh. Some readers might not know about your photography outside of skating. Do you think you would have been a photographer were it not for skating, or do you think that skating as a creative outlet opened your mind to this sort of career?

 

That’s kind of hard to answer, as I never really expected to make a career out of it. I actually trained as a newspaper photographer, and after my training had a couple of offers to join local papers, but by that point the skate stuff was kind of paying me a bit, I thought I may as well run with it and see what happened, I could always join a newspaper later… It’s now been 16 years. To be honest, the newspaper industry has been struggling pretty badly since about 2001, I think I kind of dodged a bullet really.

 

The newspaper industry’s loss is skateboarding’s gain. What was it like the first time you saw a photo of yours in print?

 

It’s the best feeling, one that I doubt most photographers ever really replicate ever again. After all the covers, photos in US mags, 20 page features etc etc, that first B&W half page photo in Sidewalk remains the one that I was most excited to see.

chrisjones

Chris Jones backside lip by Sam Ashley (2012)

 

You’ve done a fair amount of documenting Southbank over the years, cheers for letting us use so many of your images throughout the campaign! What are the major challenges of shooting in a space full of light and dark spots?

 

I think the secret is not to try and fight it, use the contrast to your advantage, it can be very dramatic. Personally, I think the main challenge is actually the history of the spot, all the great skaters and photographers that have produced stuff there; how is this photo going to stack up? How are you going to light it differently? How are you going to find that new way of seeing it

 

it showed everyone that standing up for something like this is worthwhile

Well you’ve come out with some gems over the years mate. Both skate shots and documenting the space in general. Does shooting photos at SB feel different after putting in so much effort to conserve the space?

 

Not really, I’m always just amazed that it’s still there, but I often thought that before the campaign.

rueben

LLSB Objection Delivery Day by Sam Ashley (2014)

 

We were blown away by how many people care about the place and what it represents and wanted to contribute their bit. The fact we all skated the UK’s largest number of planning objections the 3 mile journey from SB to Lambeth Town in Brixton was a real pivotal moment. Great to have had you there with us to document that. What do you think saving Southbank meant to the UK, and worldwide skate scene?

 

I think for the skate scene, it showed everyone that standing up for something like this is worthwhile, I think before this happened a lot of skaters would assume that these battles are pointless, as the money always wins.

 

On a wider cultural level, I think it highlighted that there’s been a general shift in attitudes towards skateboarders, people just understand it better these days.

 

Yeah we’re seeing that shift and a move to understanding and appreciating skateboarding and our ethos and values. What’s your favourite Southbank shot you’ve taken? 

 

I was stoked how Vaughan Baker’s fakie flip came out.

 

It’s a sick shot, the perspective angle and the shadow of Vaughan on the concrete backdrop are so rad!  What about your favourite SB shot taken by another photographer?

 

There’s so many other good photos that have been shot there. I really like Curtis McCann on the bank to wall by TLB, The Gonz hippy jump by Skin and Ben Jobe’s back tail on the beam by Wig.

 

vaughanbakerfakieflip

Vaughan Baker fakie flip by Sam Ashley (2001)

 

print mags are actually more important than ever

 

rory

Rory Milanes back smith by Sam Ashley (2012)

 

 

That’s a rad selection of images right there! Feel an exhibition coming on haha. Given Sidewalk’s recent shift away from print, do you feel that there is a long term decline in print skate media, and if so, is this bad news for photographers, and our appreciation of skateboard photography?

 

I don’t really see it as a long term decline at all. Right now coming out of the UK we have Grey, North and obviously we just started Free. Obviously there could always be more magazines printing more often, but would it really be any better? There were definitely times when Document and Sidewalk were printing 12 copies a year, it’d get to the winter months and both mags are both covering the same comps at indoor skateparks, and I’d just look at it and think “What’s the point?”. I think there’s a great opportunity for the remaining mags to really raise the bar with regards to featuring the very best UK skateboarding in print, all killer no filler!

 

I think print mags are actually more important than ever, as skate photography on the internet is basically a sea of shit. How are you easily going to find the good stuff? Even when you do, it’s usually a square measuring 640 pixels wide; there’s a whole world of photos that look great printed as a double page spread but absolutely do not work as a tiny photo on Instagram.

 

The smartest photographers, and brands, realise that magazines still provide the easiest and best way to elevate what they’re producing above the aforementioned ‘sea of shit’ on the internet, as long as that’s the case I think magazines will be fine, as long as the quality of the editing is high.

nickjbig

Nick Jensen by Sam Ashley (2004)

 

it took me a long time to figure out what I really needed

 

Over the last few years, there’s been more and more youngers and new heads shooting photos. Do you think there could ever be an over-saturation of skate photographers and people simply adding to the ‘sea of shit’?

 

It depends, I think if they were all really good, and they were all going after the same work, it could be a problem, I don’t think that’s really the case though. I’m generalising here, but I think most skate photographers don’t really get very good until they’ve been shooting for 4 or 5 years, Henri Cartier-Bresson famously said “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” and that was in the film days, so there’s a good chance you’re not going to get much published for a while, maybe a lucky shot here or there. The upshot of this is that most kids just get frustrated and give it up after a couple of years, so their potential is never fully realised.

 

So do you have preferred camera and lenses to work with for your skate photography?

 

This is a bit a weird question for me, because I know that when people begin to shoot skateboarding it’s very easy to fixate on the gear instead of the photography… I honestly think you can make amazing, magazine worthy skate photos with any DSLR you can buy right now, even the £300 ones.

 

Having said that, I’m not trying to keep any secrets about this stuff either, so if people want to know: I use Nikon digital cameras, mostly just because I’ve always used Nikon stuff, and I’ll usually carry these lenses: 16mm, 35mm, 50mm and a 80-200. Lenses are a really personal choice though, it took me a long time to figure out what I really needed.

seven

Southbank Seven by Sam Ashley

 

we should get the little banks at SB back! 

 

Ahh yes, good call… the creativity is in the eye and the mind and the instrument and accessories are the enhancers of the vision and ambition. Looking at the new chapter and toward the future, you’re part of the crew who have set up Free Skate Magazine, how has it been getting that up and running?

 

It’s been great. Obviously it’s been a lot of work, and there’s certain aspects of it that have been a very steep learning curve, but I’m just really looking forward to getting the first issue out.

 

Even though skateboarding is enjoying real popularity, it still seems it’s hard for skate media to stay afloat, as we have seen with Sidewalk and Kingpin. So what can we expect and look forward to from Free Skate Magazine.. how much will the new magazine differ from Kingpin and other skate mags?

 

Well I think the main issue with regards to Sidewalk and Kingpin remaining in print wasn’t really about them ‘staying afloat’, but that the print aspect of their whole business wasn’t an area that was likely to grow very much. The publisher of those magazines had investors, and generally speaking most investors only really care about how much their investment is growing.

 

With Free, we’re coming to it with a different set of goals. Whilst it’s important that it works as a business, and that the photographers and staff get paid for their work, we have have no aspirations for any financial investment to ‘grow’. Artistic growth is much more important to us.

 

That’s rad. The last 2 years was about us talking about creativity over commerce. There is an alternate way! Are there any spots you’d be hyped to shoot a photo at?

 

Yeah, we should get the little banks at SB back!

 

Ha, now we’re talking… that would be a banging shot in skateboarding history! We showed that the seemingly impossible can be possible so never say never eh.

 

joey-crack-southbank

Joey ‘Southbank Crack’ Pressey wallride by Sam Ashley (2004)

 

 

Cheers for chatting with us Sam… We’re hyped about the first edition of Free Skate Mag.

 

 

nickjensenbsflip

Nick Jensen Backside Flip by Sam Ashley (2013)

 

For all things Sam Ashley and to purchase prints head here

And to keep up to speed with Free Skate Mag head here

 

Celebrate the first issue of Free Skate Mag – Saturday 4th July 2015 from 8pm at Bardens Boudior

36 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 7XJ, London, UK


1540349_609004992535794_506768912662676882_o

Grab a copy of the zine, have a drink, watch the premier of the Sour skateboard solutions video, and swerve to PWBC DJs.

 

 

Interview by Louis Woodhead and Paul Richards 

Beyond The Lens: Interview with George Toland, Filmmaker for Serious Adult

 

Dropping online yesterday, the Serious Adult Promo was filmed and edited by LLSB campaigner George Toland. With a healthy dose of Southbank locals mixed in amongst Jersey ripper Luka Pinto and young Oxford shredder Cam Barr’s sections, the video highlights the quality of underground skateboarding in the UK. We caught up with Toland to talk about Serious Adult, Southbank and his long nights spent scouting for sketchy brick banks on Google street view.

IMG_3019

Photo by Alex Lamb

 

 Cool George! Maybe you could start this off by telling us a little bit about Serious Adult. Who’s involved in the company and how did you get involved?

 

Serious Adult is a clothing company that I guess has developed into a crew. SB local and LLSB campaigner Greg Conroy started it around 4 months ago. He asked me if I was down to film and edit a short promo featuring a little team he’d got together. I was hyped on the team and the t-shirts and we started filming pretty much straight away. The guys involved are Jeremy Jones, Lukas Kacevicius, Jasper Woolf, Luka Pinto, Valentine Katz and Cam Barr.

 

Unless I’m wrong, this is your first time filming for a company. How does it differ to filming and editing for yourself? 

 

Yeah it is. I suppose the main thing is as I’m working for Greg there’s a lot of discussion necessary when it comes to editing etc, as it’s representing him too. We have fairly similar opinions on what we think is good though and what gets us hyped so it hasn’t really been that different really.

 

Yeh you can tell there is a really consistent style. In quite a short space of time you ran off on filming missions down to Bristol and Sheffield too. How were they? Did any good stories emerge?

 

Really sick man  . I’d never been to another big city in the U.K. outside of London before so it was sick to skate somewhere different with all the locals. In Bristol we were skating in massive groups of like 20/25 people which was rad, everyone was hyping each other up. Just before we got on the coach back to London, Greg got a banging line with a tre flip in the road, which was sick way to end the trip. Unfortunately my camera glitched so the line wasn’t usable haha, but yeah was still a rad moment. The Skateboard Cafe premiere was sick as well. Sheffield was fun too, I wish we could’ve stayed a day or two longer to explore the city centre a bit more but there’s always next time. Cheers to Beall and Bill for putting us up in Sheff and Briz!

gino silva-payne s photo

Lukas Kacevicius wallie. Photo by Gino Silva-Payne

photo by graham davies

Photo by Graham Davies

 

Who’s skating on the team gets you most hyped?

 

I’m hyped on everyone’s skating on the team, but I’m stoked that Lukas is getting some recognition as he’s been killing it for ages. Everyone at the premiere was hyped on his section in the promo. It’s sick to just chill and watch him and Jasper skate SB cos they just smash it. But yeah I’m stoked on the team in general, everyone kills it.

 

 

Yeh Lukas’ part was so good, there must have been non stop cheers at the Parlour premiere. When not filming Serious Adult, you’re often chasing skaters with your VX down at Southbank. Tell us a bit about Lords of the Undercroft and Boom Bam Boom. How did you end up filming Tom Penny sprinkle some magic on the banks?

 

Haha yeah that was mental. I was just chilling with my camera out and he just came up to me and asked if I was down to get a clip on the bank. There’s only really one answer when Tom Penny asks you that! But yeah I was so hyped to get some footage with him. Regarding the SB edits, I just like making videos where everyone’s got a trick or two. There’s so many people killing it at SB everyday and I just wanted to make something that documented that. I thought it was important that everyone from older heads like Greg King down to the kids like PJ and everyone in between was represented and had a clip so as to give a true feel of Southbank.

 

Yeh that’s what I like so much about your edits, when everyone who’s stuck in the Southbank vortex is represented. Are there any skaters down at Southbank in particular who the skateboarding world should be keeping their eyes on?

 

Yeah it’s really rad, so many kids are smashing it. As I mentioned earlier you’ve got older guys like Lukas and Jasper killing it on the regular, as well as Domas, Jeremy, Josh Jennings etc. And then youngers like Cameron, Hassan and PJ progressing at a crazy rate. All hail Jizzleman!!

 

All hail! It is actually thanks to people like you that Southbank is even open for skateboarding, after you spent all those hours on the LLSB table, selling t-shirts and getting the membership forms signed. How was the campaign for you? 

 

It was a really rad thing to be involved with definitely. It was heart-warming to see how most of the public were fully backing and supporting us, which gave us more confidence to keep going. The feeling of relief and pride when we got the news it was saved was just amazing. The day it was announced we all came down to celebrate and chill, everyone was in such high spirits. That was one of the sickest days I can remember. But yeah it was a long battle, but all worth it in the end!

 

Photo by Sophia Bennett

Photo by Sophia Bennett

That was a really beautiful day. I just remember sitting by the river with everyone in the sun, and just smiling. Do you think SB has a different feel now the stresses of the campaign are over?

 

For sure. It’s definitely a lot more relaxed. During the campaign I think everyone was a bit on edge all the time, as at times it wasn’t looking all that good, however hard everyone was working. But yeah, now it’s saved it’s easier to just chill and skate and not have to worry about the looming threat of the loss of our home.

 

It is definitely more relaxed down there now the campaign finished and the table packed up. Ever since we were about 15, you were on google maps spending hours scouting out new spots. What is it that attracts you to the less obvious spots?

 

Haha yeah it’s definitely an obsession of mine. I guess I like the idea of finding and skating something that no one’s seen before. I’m always hyped on interesting looking spots in footage and street view is a pretty good way to find stuff.

 

Do you have any spot finding tips for the skateboarding youth?

 

I suppose the easiest way is to just skate from place to place rather than get the bus or tube or whatever. That way you can check every little back-alley or go a different route to your normal one. Or you can spend your evenings trawling through Google Maps haha.

 

Yeh, the edit certainly shows your commitment to the spot finding search. Respect! So to round this interview off, what’s next for you George? Are there any more edits in the pipeline?

 

Now the S.A. promo is done the plan is to make a few shorter edits next. Also I’m sitting on quite a bit of SB footage so I need to figure out what to do with that.

 

Shout outs to GCS and the vortex crew!

 

Thanks for speaking to us George!

Click here to watch the Serious Adult promo, and here for some Southbank radness courtesy of Toland.

Interview by Louis Woodhead