London might be the only places in the country where the idea of celebrating neighbourhoods and community feels whimsical.
Through a variety of new installations, exhibitions and activities, the Southbank Centre has done its best to capture a cosy community atmosphere, to see us through until autumn.
An ‘urban garden’, composed of allotments, fruit trees, a greenhouse and giant foliage sculptures, is dotted along the riverside, next to the much-loved and resurrected beach that featured in last year’s summer festival, as well as a miniature neighbourhood decorated with flotsam and jetsam from the Thames.
The site is also festooned with 42 bright yellow flags, courtesy of artist Bob and Roberta Smith, each with its own neighbourhood-inspired slogan.
The three-month festival will play host to a series of events and showcases over the summer, including Beanotown, The London Wonderground, Yoko Ono’s Meltdown, and Udderbelly.
Visitors this weekend (15-16 June) have lots to choose from, including Meltdown’s activism weekend, with workshops, activities, and panel discussions; Peaches performs Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece’ at The Queen Elizabeth Hall on the 16 June (see our interview here); The Hayward’s eccentric Alternative Guide to the Universe (June-August), an exhibition of work by self-taught artists and architects, physicists and inventors; and improvised musical The Showstoppers.
Different themed weekends will also take place throughout the summer, such as ‘Queering Voices’, celebrating the sub-cultures and tribes living on the outskirts of society and ‘Urban Arts’, which focuses on the world of graffiti and street sports.
By Lucy Jordan