Concrete Beauty Of The National Theatre Captured In This Abstract Exhibition

Concrete Beauty Of The National Theatre Captured In This Abstract Exhibition
A close up image of the NT
"A lot of one’s reaction to concrete is prejudice," said the National Theatre's architect, Denys Lasdun. Image: Amelia Lancaster

If you're a fan of the National Theatre's brutalist-yet-arty demeanour, there's another reason to visit it right now — an exhibition dedicated to its angular architecture.

"A lot of one’s reaction to concrete is prejudice," said the National Theatre's architect, Denys Lasdun, when it opened in 1976, "because it is often used or made very badly. Here it is used with poetry and made with great feeling."

A bright yellow and red abstract painting
The artist creates abstract compositions from the sharp angles and chiaroscuro of the concrete. Image: Amelia Lancaster

One person who can certainly read the poetry in Lasdun's design is the artist Amelia Lancaster; for over two decades, she's been shooting photos of the South Bank complex on 35mm film, and from these, creating abstract compositions from the sharp angles and chiaroscuro of the concrete, that cover three subsets: brutalism, reduction and negatives.

A free exhibition of Lancaster's imagery — Abstractions: Studies of the National Theatre — can currently be admired in the theatre's Wolfson Gallery, and frankly what better place.

A black and brown abstract of the NT
You can also go on behind-the-scenes tours of the theatre. Image: Amelia Lancaster

Lancaster says she is fascinated by "the simplicity of the trio of concrete, sunlight and shadows" — with altering geometries created by the shifting sunlight.

For those who are head-over-heels with Lasdun's masterpiece, know you can also go on behind-the-scenes tours of theatre, which delve further into its design.

Abstractions: Studies of the National Theatre, Wolfson Gallery, National Theatre, until autumn 2024, free

Last Updated 22 January 2024

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