Koestler Wrap Up – Final Words

Robert: I like looking at all the different paintings in the spirit level and working with the volunteer coordinators.

Tara: Ashleigh: The first time i discovered Koestler was at college. My first impression was shock and amazement. I was in shock about how beautiful these pieces were. It is a fantastic way to keep yourself grounded so you don’t lose yourself in prison. I never knew in future years i would be here volunteering for this exhibition. My favourite pieces are the lion king with the colourful pieces on it, i was stunned by all the colours that bought the lions face to life and my second favorite was the piece was the lion eater with the dragon because when you get up close i’m amazed by all the equipment and tools available in prison that can make amazing artwork. We’re all just people no matter what, we all need to express yourself properly

Yunzi: I really enjoyed the tours, they did an amazing job. And every tour is special and unique. My favourite piece is property of her majesty the queen/comfort blanket. It really expressed how difficult prisoner life is.

Julie: I really loved this exhibition, i found it to be an eye opener to the creativeness of people who have been incarcerated, i found it really heartwarming be able to share the exhibition to other people and share the inspiration of how creative someone can be on the inside. My favourite pieces are the comfort blanket and the WTF. I enjoy talking to people about the grandfather clock because of how fantastic the piece is. I also love the piece with the felt sweets.

Jane: I have enjoyed really learning about Koestler i hadn’t heard about the trust at all before, and it has been eye opening for me to learn about it. It has been inspiring for me to come in each week the two tours i went on were really interesting, and delivered well and it was fantastic each time even if it was their first tour. I really love the red fish piece I was really sad it wasn’t for sale, i wanted to buy it, i found its relation to freedom beautiful.

Toyin: I don’t know which i like best, I like all of it. I liked coming each week.

Giulia: It was amazing. I had to write an essay about a successful art management piece, and Koestler became what I wanted to write about. I struggled to find a bad thing about the exhibition. My favourite piece was self portrait, i think it is very emblematic, because it represents how important the feedback is from the visitors.

Lawrence: I love the clock as it signifies the time they are in prison and how much time and it makes me realise we do not appreciate how much time we have and it makes me realise how much time you have inside to think and it makes you appreciate life a lot more.

Tara: This exhibition was a new experience for me, I have never been to anything like this before and it was interesting to see people makes things out of nothing with such limited materials. I also found them to be very intelligent people, and I don’t have a favourite, I like all of them!

Bridget (Volunteer coordinator): It has been a real pleasure to work with the volunteers and do my job to the best of my ability and you have all  been a pleasure to be around. It means so much to us that you want to donate our time to such a worthwhile cause.

Lucy (Volunteer coordinator): I have loved getting to know the Koestler trust exceptionally well during this opportunity. I have loved the intimate nature of getting to know the team better and all the conversations we have had about why this is such an important exhibition. I look forward to use doing it all again next year.

Maurizio Pollini’s six decades of exceptional pianism at Southbank Centre

pollini-01‘That boy can play better than any of us’ Arthur Rubinstein

Maurizio Pollini is one of the great piano legends, with a career spanning nearly 60 years. With his unaffected manner and an elegant clarity to his playing, Pollini has brought his individual voice to all musical styles from the 1700s to the present day. Ahead of his two recitals in spring, we’ve looked into our Southbank Centre archive to explore six decades of Pollini’s performances.

Pollini is now considered by many to be one of the world’s most outstanding pianists. Yet he was only 18 when he obtained international recognition, by winning first prize at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1960.

It was three years later that the maestro made his debut in London in a concert in 1963 at Royal Festival Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Pierre Monteux, the repertoire chosen for Pollini’s first solo performance was:

TCHAIKOVSKY Fantasy Overture, Romeo and Juliet

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37

SCHUBERT Symphony No.9 in C (Great)

In the early 70s, Pollini began to establish an international career of the greatest importance. In 1971, he signed with Deutsche Grammophon and released his first recordings on the German label; these included Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka and Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata.

With regular appearances in music centres around the world, Pollini began the career of piano superstar.


Fact: Pollini’s strong political convictions formed an important part of his musical life, improving his technique by playing in factories for causes such as peace in Vietnam with Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and Italian composer Luigi Nono. He also performed concerts in the neighbourhoods around Reggio Emilia and recitals for students at La Scala, animated by their ideals of justice and peace.

The collaboration between Abbado and Pollini continued after those years, with several concerts held at Royal Festival Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Pollini began the 80s at Southbank Centre, with a televised opening season concert playing Mozart’s D Minor Concerto with Sir Georg Solti and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He continued to give several recitals in Royal Festival Hall throughout the decade as well as a  performance in 1983 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Masse by Giacomo Manzoni written as a homage to Varese, the first explorer of Manzoni’s favourite musical sounds was part of that evening’s repertoire.

Fact: New York, 1987: Under the direction of Claudio Abbado, the maestro played the complete piano concertos of Ludwig van Beethoven with the Vienna Philharmonic. On this occasion he received the orchestra’s Honorary Ring.

In 1996, Pollini brought back his superb pianism to Royal Festival Hall with the Beethoven Sonata Cycle

The audience was taken on an intense journey through eight recitals, that followed the chronological order in which Beethoven wrote his works, with the exception of Opus 49.

Pollini demonstrated how great playing can be achieved through quiet, undemonstrative means.’ Annette Morreau, 16 December 1996 – The Independent

Pollini’s career in London in the new millennium was full of highlights. These included a performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in honour of their 75th birthday in 2007; and the Pollini Project in 2011, where he embarked on a five-recital pilgrimage, with the concerts spanning 250 years of piano repertoire from Bach to Boulez.

‘I like their way of listening and their deep interest in music, and so I thought it was possible to do something larger and different. I have played these works many times and they are all extraordinarily important works for the piano. Put together, they form something of a line, something of a story of piano music. But it is not a rigorous or strict line. They are closely connected to me and my overall musical interests, so it is also my personal line and, in a way, my personal story.’ Pollini on London audience

Fact: The opening of the Pollini Project in London was signposted by the arrival of a brand new favourite piano: a Steinway concert grand refined by the Italian piano technician Angelo Fabbrini.

‘I have played a recital in London more or less every year throughout my career and have a very strong relationship with the London public (…)’ Maurizio Pollini

With his two upcoming recitals, Maurizio Pollini’s cumulative appearances at Southbank Centre add up to 133 performances.

His recitals have made a major contribution to the International Piano Series as one of the most prestigious piano recital series in London, where fans  can see him playing alongside the emerging talents aspiring to Pollini’s greatness.

Mr. Pollini is represented by HarrisonParrot and records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon.

Heinali talks to us about his latest score for Jean Abreu: A Thread

Music composer Oleg Shpudeiko (Heinali) from Ukraine, discusses his latest work for Jean Abreu: A Thread.

Oleg writes and performs beautiful, emotive music under Heinali moniker — Electroacoustics, live piano improvisation, music for films, games, performances and exhibitions.


What attracted you to get involved with A Thread?

While some of my existing compositions have been featured in a few choreographic performances, I’ve never composed original music for a choreography before. But I always was interested — some works that were composed in the past were written with choreographic performances in mind. Plus, it was a great chance to work with wonderful musicians (Andrew Maginley and Benjamin Kaminski) which I don’t get very often as I specialize in electroacoustic music, don’t have a formal music education and usually spend most of my time working alone in my studio. Using studio as an instrument, as Brian Eno would have probably said. So when Jean offered a collaboration I couldn’t resist. Actually, while working on Bound, I was working in parallel on another exciting project which is quite related to choreography — Bound, a video game by Plastic / Sony Santa Monica. Princess, the game’s protagonist, moves and interacts with the world with dance. Her movements were captured from a professional dancer and feature if I’m not mistaken both contemporary dance and ballet. I think some of the ideas I had for Bound were influenced by the work I did on A Thread and vice versa.

What should the audience expect from the show?

In terms of music, it features both rather free interpretations of old music by Monteverdi, Dowland, anonymous author performed by Andrew (theorbo) and Benjamin (viola) and electroacoustic compositions recorded by me. Both original pieces of music were written specifically for A Thread and one old composition which Jean decided to have in the work. Actually, music’s structure was heavily influenced by Jean’s method of work, which is much closer to improvisation and the process itself feels like solving a difficult puzzle. Instead of composing for a fixed, rigid structure of a complete performance, I had to make lots of edits and rearrangements as we went through numerous changes both in the structure and fragments. It was quite challenging because, when you deal with a composed electroacoustic it’s very difficult to make changes to it, as it exists in the form of audio recordings, not scores (there are exceptions, of course).

What influences did you draw upon when preparing for A Thread?

It might sound strange, but Rothko’s works. In my solo work, I rely heavily on a looping and layering technique, which is similar to Rothko’s Color Field painting. I employed this technique to a certain extent in music for A Thread. Another influence is Renaissance and late Medieval pieces that were considered for the project. Fro example, some of the electroacoustic compositions started out as heavily processed versions of music by Dowland and Monteverdi.

Please can you describe how your music interacts with the dancers and set design?

A Thread’s set design feels both ‘minimal and’ ‘unsafe’ — the dancers interact with heavy and loud weights, there’s a lot of tension in the choreography. Instead of writing a clashing percussive score, I decided to incorporate the sounds produced by the dancers and accentuate the mood and dynamics for the particular fragment of the piece. As I mentioned before, the music wasn’t written to fit a complete, finished performance. Both choreography and music were in a flux until the very end. I believe, a lot of decisions Jean has made were influenced by music and a lot of decisions I made were influenced by Jean’s changes in choreography and structure while we worked together in London. I think it became so intertwined and interdependent that’s it’s difficult to separate certain aspects of it and tell how a specific part interacts.

Jean Abreu: A Thread takes place Fri 4 Nov 2016, RFH – book tickets here

Koestler Volunteers discuss We Are All Human

We Are All Human is an exhibition showcasing artwork produced in the UK’s prisons, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres, and by ex-offenders in the community.

The display includes painting, music, writing and ceramics as well as traditional prison crafts such as matchstick modelling. The 2016 annual UK Koestler exhibition has been curated by writer and dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah who has selected from over 6,000 artworks submitted to the 2016 Koestler Awards.


“My favourite artwork is the colourful ‘Lion King’, because the use of all the known colours really brought the lion’s face to life. (Ash)

This morning during the guided tour one artwork in particular captured our feelings. Property of Helion-king-paul-hmp-prison-magilligan-aridne-birberg-highly-commended-awardr Majesty Queen made by Peter which tells a story which happens to every prisoner. When they first come to prison, they will be given a plastic bag where they put their belongings. That same plastic bag will be returned to the prisoner the day they become free again. However, in the painting the plastic bag covering the face becomes a motif, the freedom they have lost during their prison years will never come back. Although the objects in the bag remain the same, this is not the same for the person who will receive them.  (Yunzi and Giulia)

I saw a sculpture made entirely out of soap. The sculpture was incredibly detailed and took a long period to make. The soap was used to make a replica of inmates or prisoner fighting each other. It was quite a large sculpture. (Robert)dantes-fireplace-tom-hmp-prison-peterborough-inspiration-platinum-award-for-sculpture

I’d like to talk about a couple of pieces.  The first is the model of a clock tower made entirely of matchsticks.  It took the artist 18 months to complete and you can understand why when you see it.  It is a magnificent piece in its scale, vision and in the level of detail integrated into the work. Not all works are for sale and when you understand the story behind this piece you can understand why it might be too precious and symbolic to let go.  I will briefly mention the two works by Peter one of which is Property of her Majesty (also mentioned by my volunteer colleagues) and WTF. They are assured and technically brilliant works which convey a complex set of emotions in a superficially simple style.  I really wish I’d had a chance to buy them and I hope they have gone to a good home.  The last piece is a poem called Never Again.  I missed this piece and was alerted to it by two women who were on the same tour with me.  They came up to me at the end of the tour and one of them had tears in her eyes.  When I read it I understood why.  The poem speaks about the refugee crisis and the perilous journeys of people trying to escape from harm.  It is in the collection of poems handbook on the yellow plinth. Do try and make sure you read it. (Dinea)”


New Music for a New Catwalk

What could make a catwalk for everyone even more original? How about live music from a vibrant youth orchestra?

On Saturday, 3 September, audiences and catwalkers alike were treated to live music by the Chineke! Juniors orchestra to accompany the People’s Catwalk in Africa Utopia 2016.

For Dual Magazine, a fashion publication produced by the students of the Fashion Journalism Course in Africa Utopia 2016, course journalist Wilfred Clarke spoke to the young musicians of Chineke! Juniors about their fashion on and off the concert stage.

Young Players Orchestrating their Chineke Moments


The Chineke Juniors walking the catwalk after their performance.

The Fashion Undressed event at Southbank Centre was a sight to behold due to its boundary breaking effects.

On Saturday 3 September, there were two categories of fashion shows, the People’s Catwalk which allowed non models to strut their personal stuff on the runway, and the #AfricanSquad show, which comprises professional models and voguers.

As with each and every traditional catwalk, it comes with music. But the multimillion festival question then becomes what type of music was played and who provided it?

During the People’s Catwalk, the music was provided by an ensemble of 35 young adults making up the Chineke Junior Orchestra.

They all did exceptionally well, so interviewing Ayesha, the only lady who was playing the double base, was cool. “I like to defy the odds by playing an instrument that a woman wouldn’t play. This is why I got a full scholarship to Wells Catholic School by beating over one hundred and fifty students.”

18 year old Braimah who could not hide his inspirations added, “I think the main thing that inspires me is playing with other young players from the diaspora.” This is especially inspiring in context of the wider Africa Utopia Festival.

Sheku plays the Cello and when asked where he got his discipline from, playing in front of such an audience at the festival, he said: “It kind of great feeling sharing the music I love with other people.” We couldn’t agree more.

Read more about the fashion of Africa Utopia 2016 and find out more about the Africa Utopia Fashion Journalism course in Issue One of Dual Magazine.

Dual: Issue One of The Africa Utopia Fashion Magazine

If you missed any of the varied fashion activity in this year’s Africa Utopia Festival, never fear, Dual is here! Dual, the first ever Fashion Magazine produced as part of the Africa Utopia Festival, was created by a team of talented creatives who took part in the Africa Utopia Fashion Journalism course.


Download your copy of DUAL issue one

For four weeks leading up to the festival, the Dual journalists met together to develop their writing and reporting skills in practical workshops, one-to-one tutoring sessions, and lectures from leading fashion journalists, and on the weekend of Africa Utopia, they hit the streets to report on all the fashion activity taking place in the festival. On the Saturday of the festival, the journalists ran all over the Southbank Centre site interviewing, reporting, and gathering content for the magazine and bringing it back to the makeshift headquarters to write it all up and submit it for editing.

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Dual HQ on Saturday 3 September

In features, news pieces, trend reports, and more, they explored their personal heritage and festival programme to bring you the varied pieces you’ll read, from the streets to the catwalk and everywhere in between.

We hope that you enjoy this first issue of Dual, our first ever fashion magazine created and produced at Southbank Centre. Download your copy of DUAL issue one.

Barbershop Banter Exclusive

Just for this blog, we bring you some exclusive extended content. To complement our ‘Barbershop Banter’ piece on page 25 of Dual, we let the ladies say their piece, as well, with a few ‘Tales from the Salon’ by Adelina Adjei.

What really goes down in the salon? 
Other than braids, perms and close fades, we ask people what they think (and talk) about when in the salon

Lindsey Hughes salon, Hertfordshire 
What I think about:  
Aimee: “I sit and think: I don’t want to look like a wet dog, I hope they don’t blow out my curls!”

Lightheaded, Hammersmith 
What I think about: 
Natalie: “What do I think about when in the salon? Why do I need to do a full shift with the hairdresser? Eight hours for a wash, cut, blowdry and trim. Really? Really. What would the world look like if it was two hours for a whole treatment and trim. Should I be writing a novel? Why is there no free wifi? Is now the time for colour?”

The Dual Magazine Team

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The Team of Dual Magazine, from left to right, Marie, Kieran, Helen, Wilfred, Sharon, Kruti, Adelina, Natalie, Carinya, Hannah.


Adelina Adjei (@adsdiaspora) is an evolving blogger, merging her interests in topics pertinent to the African diaspora, including fashion, beauty, culture and the legacy of black people in the diaspora.

Sharon Banga (@STBanga) is freelance fashion designer, whose designs have been featured in Pride and FAB magazine. She has taken the opportunity to explore fashion journalism through the Africa Utopia festival.

Wilfred Clarke is a radio presenter, a Master of Ceremonies and a freelance journalist who writes for many Ghanaian news outlets and radio stations. He is also very conscious about fashion, hence the Africa Utopia initiative.

Kruti Patel is a journalism student who is passionate about writing and aspires to be a fashion journalist. She took the opportunity to write and help create this magazine for Africa Utopia 2016.

Natalie Vincent (@embracestyle) is a passionate and creative fashion blogger and freelance writer with a penchant for all things African. Whether that be food, travel, art, music or fashion.

Kieran Yates | Editor (@kieran_yates)

Helen Neville | Designer
Marie Ortinau | Course Manager (@marieonmac)
Hannah Azieb Pool | Course Creative Coordinator (@hannahpool)
Carinya Sharples | Sub-editor (@carinyasharples)

Unlimited festival: An interview with Liz Carr


Actress, stand-up comedian, broadcaster and international disability rights activist Liz Carr talks to us about disability and the arts ahead of the premier of her new show, Assisted Suicide: The Musical.

Why do you think it’s important to laugh about a traditionally dark, taboo subject like disability?

To me, as a disabled woman, disability isn’t taboo or dark; it’s my life and my experience of living in a disabling world. My creative work is really just me talking about what I know best: my life. I think it’s important to laugh at all the messy and difficult aspects of being human, including disability.

As new government cuts to disabled people meet continued cuts to the arts, does this increasingly make being a disabled artist an impossible task?

Obstacles to work are becoming increasingly tough to overcome – cuts to the fund that provides employment for disabled people, and increased rationing of social care budgets means many don’t have assistance to get in and out of the house. Cuts to the arts mean fewer grants and venues less willing to take risks, preferring instead big names that are guaranteed seat fillers. There’s less appetite in many ways for new work and work by unknown or emerging artists – and this impacts on many of us, including disabled people.

Liz Carr explores the complex and controversial subject of assisted suicide in her new musical Assisted Suicide: The Musical. Book your tickets for the performance here.