Barbican Guide
Jul/Aug 2021

This month’s cover is taken by Vito / @delusionalfilm

This month’s cover is taken by Vito / @delusionalfilm


As our Art Gallery exhibition demonstrates, French artist Jean Dubuffet’s Art Brut concept has inspired many people. In this spirit we’re taking a look at a group of non-mainstream artists who make films by hand – scratching, drawing on, painting, or otherwise decaying the film stock to create new work. And if you’ve ever wondered how much of a connection there is between Art Brut and Brutalism (other than sharing the word brut), our Assistant Curator in Architecture and Design, Jon Astbury delves into the topic.

After the last 18 months we all need a bit of light relief, so we’re looking forward to the opening of Anything Goes in July with its mix of glamour, fun and humour.

An innovative production of a Samuel Beckett radio play will see audiences led on a journey around the Barbican estate – find out more about how it brings a new depth to the work.

Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason have put together a fascinating look at two British composers for their concert, plus there’s a chance to explore our Conservatory in a new way. Nadine Shah tells is why she’s particularly looking forward to returning here, and you can find some inspiration for the kids’ school holidays.

We’ve got a bumper summer of events lined-up, so dive in!

Set sail for escapism

As they prepare for the classic musical set aboard the SS American, Robert Lindsay and Felicity Kendal say it’s just the tonic we all need after the last year.

Join Gary Wilmot, Sutton Foster, Robert Lindsay and Felicity Kendal for Broadway spectacular Anything Goes.

Join Gary Wilmot, Sutton Foster, Robert Lindsay and Felicity Kendal for Broadway spectacular Anything Goes.

Cole Porter and PG Wodehouse’s saucy comedy musical is pure escapism. With catchy songs such as ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’ and ‘Anything Goes’, its story of a former nightclub singer and a second-rate conman trying to help their friend find true love will certainly put a smile on your face.

And its arrival here for a three-month run couldn’t be better timed, as Robert Lindsay, who plays Moonface Martin says: ‘This musical came out of the Great Depression of the 1920s and lifted people’s spirits then, and I think that’s what this show will do when it opens at the Barbican. It’s what people need: a release and to have fun. Musicals are written to make people happy and I can’t think of a better musical for this particular time.’

He’s joined by Felicity Kendal (playing Evaline Harcourt), who’s equally enthusiastic about the uplifting power of this grand new production by Kathleen Marshall. ‘It’s wonderful to be joining this classic joyous show,’ she says. ‘We need to connect together again in our theatres and there is nothing quite like the thrill of a live audience experiencing a great show. This is a perfect moment for this glorious, funny and uplifting musical.’

With Broadway royalty Sutton Foster reprising her Tony Award-winning role as Reno Sweeney and Gary Wilmot as Elisha Whitney, Lindsay says he’s particularly looking forward to his role as Moonface Martin, which he describes as ‘one of the great comic roles in musical theatre’. Moonface is ‘public enemy number thirteen’ – which, although some might consider it unlucky, it’s not for the renowned TV and stage actor. ‘Number thirteen is my lucky number – I was born on Friday 13th, so I understand superstition,’ he grins. ‘I know there’s much superstition in the theatre, but I am, in fact, the most superstitious actor of them all.’

So, it’s time to pack your bags for a fun-filled journey that will transport you to Broadway for a night of glamour, music and dance.

Anything Goes
23 Jul–17 Oct

The teacher and the student

Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason says there are musicological reasons why she and brother Sheku chose to highlight composers Bridge and Britten – but there’s something more visceral, too.

Benjamin Britten is a central figure of British music. He had many influences, but his teacher, the viola player and slightly less well-known composer Frank Bridge, was of vital importance.

Although not a composition teacher, Bridge decided to teach the young Britten after being astounded at the 12-year-old’s talent. The pair struck up a very close relationship, with Britten frequently spending time at Bridge’s house in Sussex. Britten later paid tribute to his teacher with Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge.

Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason and her cellist brother Sheku will play a selection of works by both composers in July, which will highlight the two men’s musical relationship.

‘Britten was obviously so influenced by Bridge, and yet at the same time, the styles are very different,’ says Isata. ‘It’s particularly noticeable in the two sonatas we’ll be playing [one by each composer]. Britten’s is completely different to Bridge’s: it’s much more melodic, it’s very passionate, romantic-style music. Bridge’s is also passionate, but in a different way – it has a more modern sound world. And at the same time, you can hear theinfluences too. ‘It’s interesting from a musicology perspective to hear these two pieces side by side, but they also work so wonderfully together. And they’re not played that often. Plus, we love them.’

Bridge’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor opens the concert. It’s fascinating to hear because the first movement was written before the First World War and the second movement was written after it. ‘Hearing the musical contrast is really moving,’ explains Isata. ‘Of course, I’ve never been in a war personally, but I think the kind of grief that you hear in the music is something that you can feel anyway, whether you’ve been through it or not. And I find that very moving to play and very satisfying.’

Sheku & Isata Kanneh-Mason
Live from the Barbican
4 Jul

Ahead of this concert, Sheku and Isata were in conversation with our Head of Music Huw Humphreys, as an exclusive event for Patrons. To find out more about other benefits of becoming a Patron, see

Isata Kanneh-Mason © Robin Clewley

Isata Kanneh-Mason © Robin Clewley

Go on an adventure
in our conservatory

Our audio trail will bring the Conservatory to life. © Max Colson

Long Day’s Journey into Night

Enter a magical world of creatures, flora and fauna inside London’s second largest conservatory and embark on a free audio trail this summer. Aimed at families aged 7+ but welcome to all, we invite you to escape into nature on a journey of stories, sound and imagination.

As you walk around our magnificent glasscovered structure, put on your headphones and discover stories by writer Emma Hayes, sound artist Xavier Velastin and illustrator Aleesha Nandhra. Explore the koi carp in the fish pond, see new plants, and learn about the secret creatures that hide among the leaves. Plus, there’s an illustrated activity sheet that you can draw on and collect your thoughts throughout the adventure.

Created by Barbican Creative Learning, this is an opportunity to immerse you and your family in the calm of our green oasis.

The Secret Life of the Conservatory
2 Aug–31 Oct
Supported by Wellcome

Do buildings work for everyone?

Pioneering feminist architecture co-operative Matrix led the way in how we think about how buildings and spaces work for different people. Our new exhibition asks us to consider again important questions about who buildings are designed for.

Matrix co-founding member Anne Thorne and her children cross a busy road in Aldgate, East London from ‘Urban Obstacle Courses’ in Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment (Pluto Press, 1984). Source: Christine Wall

Matrix co-founding member Anne Thorne and her children cross a busy road in Aldgate, East London from ‘Urban Obstacle Courses’ in Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment (Pluto Press, 1984). Source: Christine Wall

Architect, activist, educator and writer Jos Boys was a founder member of Matrix, and co-author of their book Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment. Here, she talks to our Assistant Curator in Architecture and Design, Jon Astbury, with whom she has curated an installation about the work of Matrix, open on Level G now.

Tell us about the formation of Matrix.

Jos: It began in the mid-70s, which was already quite a political time, particularly in London. Feminist architecture work was coming out of the States, but there wasn’t really anything here. There were groups of women who were frustrated by how the architecture profession was organising itself and the fact that there wasn’t a gender-based or feminist analysis of that work. The initial founding members of Matrix, Anne Thorne, Fran Bradshaw, Barbara MacFarlane and Sue Francis, led the way in starting an architectural practice taking on board all these things.

There was also a real aim to understand how gender and the built environment interconnect because we’d all been trained in a system that believed the built environment was completely neutral, that it wasn’t affecting different people differently. Unpicking how women were treated differently, how class and race intersected with those things was a major subplot, and that’s where I was mainly involved, in what was called the Book Group, which started working together in 1979. The book, Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment, was published in 1984.

Do you think things have improved since Matrix was founded?

Jos: It’s not a notion of ‘progress to something better’. I think a lot of things have changed. When Matrix was starting, we were still in a situation where it was a hangover from the Victorian period, which was an attempt by the government through big local authorities, and star architect-led private practices, to fix gender in space. All the guidance was about what women do and what men do. It was a map of this incredibly stereotypical world of public and private space, and male and female space.

There are some gains, but they’re gains defined in a particular way because they’re around functional and technical access, for example, shopping centres having crèches for kids, because they’ve worked out it’s very good for their profit margin.

Jon: It’s worth adding that architecture is incredibly slow, which is why groups are turning to each other to co-operate.

There’s a very nice quote to the beginning of the Matrix book, which is (to paraphrase) this idea that our buildings don’t control us, but they are a reflection of what we value in society. What we want this project to do is allow people to identify where those structures and patterns exist, and start thinking about how you could do it differently.

Jos: If you actually value our really rich bio- and neuro-diversity as a thing to design from, rather than saying, right, ‘there are normal people, and then we retrofit for these other people’.

We don’t live our life as stereotypes. But there is a tendency when you’re designing, to either fall into stereotypes or invent new stereotypes, and then there are the ‘others’ who can be dealt with later as a retrofit. People who fit the norm don’t need to notice built space – it just works, so what’s interesting is all those moments of it not fitting.

Do you think the pandemic has thrown these issues into sharper relief?

Jos: What’s really interesting about the pandemic, if one is thinking about what is ‘normal’, and what ‘normal people‘ do: they don’t have to take notice of the built environment. Where you live, where you work, how you relate to what’s going on in a domestic setting has all changed. All my disabled friends are like, ‘We’ve been living like this for years. Now you’ve finally noticed it.’ And it’s the same around gender stereotypes. All the data shows that women are doing much more of the childcare, that men are making use of the situation.

Jon: The pandemic has questioned the idea that having a centre with suburbs full of people who commute in, which is based on the structures we’ve mentioned about the man commuting to work and the woman staying at home. Is that going to shift as more people decide they want to move further away, and work from home? What happens when there’s that hollowing out of inner city areas?

How did the online Matrix Archive, and this project come about?

Jos: Some of the women who were a part of Matrix have kept in touch over many, many years. And one of our discussions has always been, ‘it’d be really good to get a Matrix archive together’. I think that the 1970s and to some extent, the 80s is still quite a missing period on the web, because it wasn’t digital native, but the rediscovery and digitisation of earlier periods is still very much working its way through the 50s and the 60s.

Jon: In terms of how we approached the display of the archive, we didn’t really want to want to just put a plan drawing on the wall. It’s not about saying there was this great period then, but it can’t happen now. It’s about inspiring people to think more deeply about the way in which their surroundings are designed.

How We Live Now: Reimagining Spaces with Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative
Until 23 Dec
With Art Fund Support

Getting upfront and personal

Nadine Shah’s latest album Kitchen Sink is her most
frank yet. Using her inherent dark sense of humour to
tackle thorny social issues feels right, she says.

Old habits die hard, don’t they? A casual ‘how’re you doing’ these days is no longer the throwaway ice-breaker that eases a conversation into motion; the expected ‘yeah, fine’ response has become a confetti of emotional confession.

Geordie musician Nadine Shah’s answer to this opener is simple: ‘shite,’ she laughs, blackly.

The singer’s sardonic outlook is a recognisably British one, and one that’s probably acted as a bulwark against the last sixteen turbulent months. Shah released her fourth album, Kitchen Sink, in June 2020, but for obvious reasons has been unable to tour it – including missing out on a Glastonbury slot, much to her great regret.

Whereas 2017’s Holiday Destination was global in its political view – addressing immigration and the European refugee crisis – Kitchen Sink is Shah’s most revealing and personal of her work to date.

Tackling society’s expectations of women, gaslighting, gender inequality and more on this album, she approaches her topics with dark humour. It’s clearly her natural voice – conversation with Shah is peppered with pithy asides.

‘This album is also more akin to my normal sense of humour,’ she says. ‘With Holiday Destination, I found myself in interviews where I couldn’t be myself because it dealt with serious issues. It’s been a relief to be able to bring more of my personality on this album. These are serious topics, but this is how we talk about them – I didn’t want it to feel down in the dumps.’

Despite fears of hanging out ‘dirty laundry in public’, the authenticity on the album is apparent – and it draws you in, in an even more compelling way than is usual with Shah’s work. And it’s arguably the album that’s been best received, not just by critics but fans of all genders.

‘I was worried it would isolate some of my fans because the majority of those who come to see me are men – I don’t know why that is – so I was worried about excluding them with the topics. But it seems the men who come to see my shows are all feminists, and they’re all just lovely about it.’

Getting upfront and personal Nadine Shah’s latest album Kitchen Sink is her most frank yet. Using her inherent dark sense of humour to tackle thorny social issues feels right, she says. Kitchen Sink frequently considers being a woman and getting older. The invisibility of older women in society is something that’s been vexing Shah for some time.

‘There’s a real void of older women’s voices, which is a massive problem because they’re meant to teach us,’ she says. ‘Imagine if somebody like Amy Winehouse [who was a friend] … I would love to hear what she’s writing, and in the future see what she has to say about being a 60-year-old woman.’

What’s particularly surprised Shah since the album was released was how many men said that also resonated with them. ‘It’s been quite an eye-opener to find out how many men think of youth as currency. I’ve learned a lot from men who’ve listened to the album. There’s still so many pressures on men to adhere to certain things in society – still working in a bar and no “proper” job, still renting at 38, and so on.’

Her performance here will be the first time Kitchen Sink has been played live, and – after the struggles of 2020 – Shah is relishing the prospect, not least because having lived in London from the age of 17 until 2019, when she moved to Ramsgate – (‘the drinking woman’s Margate,’ she laughs), the Barbican is her favourite venue in the city. ‘The programming is amazing. There’s always a sense of excitement going into the building – when you come in from Silk Street it doesn’t look like much but a mass of concrete. I studied the history of modern art and design, and these types of massive concrete structures are very much my favourite architecture.

‘Every time I went to a show there, I would go earlier, so I could go upstairs to the cocktail bar, where they had happy hour, and I’d get a martini. Or maybe two.’

We’ll drink to that.

Nadine Shah
Live from the Barbican
18 Jul

Nadine Shah © Fraser Taylor

Nadine Shah © Fraser Taylor

Rough Poetry: Dubuffet, Art Brut and Brutalism

Other than sharing the word ‘brut’, is there anything to link the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican with the artistic concept of Art Brut, championed by Jean Dubuffet? Assistant Curator in Architecture and Design, Jon Astbury, takes a look.

Jean Dubuffet, Texturology XLVI (with ochre flashes) (Texturologie XLVI [aux clartés ocrées]), 30 May 1958. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021, photograph courtesy Jean Tholance

Jean Dubuffet, Texturology XLVI (with ochre flashes) (Texturologie XLVI [aux clartés ocrées]), 30 May 1958. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021, photograph courtesy Jean Tholance

Art Brut and Brutalism both share use of the French brut, meaning ‘raw’, ‘crude’ or – if we are talking about champagne – ‘dry’. But beyond their linguistic similarities, these movements, which both emerged in the late 1940s and early 50s, shared a deeper set of concerns about what art and architecture could be.

Today it’s common to refer to any piece of monolithic architecture made from a rough material (ideally concrete) as ‘Brutalist’. While not inaccurate, it’s worth separating this use of Brutalism to define a visual style from Brutalism as a concept with its own set of philosophical ideas. Put simply, Brutalism was about more than rough materials and big forms, and also served as a byword for a number of different concerns.

‘Art Brut’ is a term that was coined by French artist Jean Dubuffet to refer to art made by people working outside of the established cultural mainstream. In English, it tends to be translated as ‘Outsider Art’. By the end of his life, Dubuffet had collected more than 5,000 works by these artists who were a powerful source of inspiration for him.

While we can look at the work of Dubuffet and the artists he termed ‘Art Brut’ next to the concrete exterior of a building like the Barbican and feel much of the same ‘raw’ force, underneath both were ideas about reconsidering the ordinary, the throwaway, the ‘ugly’.

Brutalism has a few tangled origin stories, but the most widely accepted is that it grew out of the work of Swiss-French architect Charles-Éduoard Jeanneret, by his pseudonym, Le Corbusier. He rose to fame in the 1920s designing sleek, steelframed and white-rendered villas and entire urban plans that were at the centre of what was known as the International Style, an approach to architecture that championed industrial production and function.

Le Corbusier’s designs followed his idea that ‘a house is a machine for living in’, and this functionalist attitude is what lay behind their neat and clean facades. This architectural approach emerged at the turn of the 20th century as a rebellion against the teachings of French art schools École des Beaux Arts, which stressed the importance of the classical architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They also promoted prescribed ideas of what constituted beauty or ‘high’ culture. These were the same schools that, in their fine art teaching, so rigidly enforced ideas of what was picturesque that Dubuffet quit as a student just six months into his studies.

Interestingly, in 1945 Le Corbusier met Dubuffet during the artist’s visit to Switzerland on an early period of research into what he would define as Art Brut. He visited self-taught and marginalised artists, including those who were institutionalised or in psychiatric care.

It was at this time that Le Corbusier’s work – at least in terms of its appearance – underwent a dramatic shift. While there were no doubt some influences from Dubuffet for Le Corbusier, his own turn towards a brut aesthetic was driven as much by necessity as anything else. Steel shortages in postwar France meant that rather than using his preferred construction method of a steel frame, a cheaper concrete structure was used. Le Corbusier embraced this new approach, terming this material treatment ‘beton brut’, literally translating to ‘raw’ or ‘crude’ concrete.

In a sense, this is where Brutalism was born. The acceptance of materials as raw and untreated would go on to become a central tenet of a Brutalist approach, an honesty about what makes buildings stand up.

Later, the architect couple Alison and Peter Smithson, who were great Brutalist enthusiasts, embraced not only an Art Brut concept, but a Brutalism aesthetic when they came up with proposals for the Golden Lane Estate, near the Barbican. While their designs were not selected – the winners of the competition were architects Chamberlin Powell and Bon. The Golden Lane site – much like that of the Barbican – was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, and the Smithsons’ designs proposed a series of elevated walkways that, rather than replacing this damaged landscape, were lifted above it, retaining it like something of an open-air museum. These walkways were intended to bring back the feeling of the street that had been eliminated by Modernist urban planning.

How could Art Brut relate back to Brutalism?

There was clearly a mutual appreciation and a strong line of communication between Art Brut and Brutalism – but this is not to say that Brutalism was simply the Art Brut answer to architecture. On the contrary, Dubuffet and the artists he championed through his Art Brut collection had their own points to make about architecture, despite not necessarily being obvious companions. As Dubuffet scholar Kent Minturn observed: ‘It’s hard to believe that this self-described ‘anti-cultural’ artist and writer [Dubuffet] would try his hand at an art so essentially connected with structure, tradition, and permanency.’

Dubuffet’s turn towards architecture emerged out of his jigsaw-like L’Hourloupe series in the 1960s; works that began on paper were translated into structures that blurred the boundary between sculpture and architecture.

Brutalism remained preoccupied with ideas of function and with buildings that looked like what they were made from. Dubuffet’s forays into architecture were wholly antifunctional. The critic Marcel Cornu, evoking Le Corbusier’s famous phrase, described Dubuffet’s approach as creating châteaux for dreams rather than machines for living.

Many had the benefit of either never making it off paper into the real world, but they were a response to the architecture of the day, which Dubuffet described in a letter to Cornu as being ‘devoid of imagination’.

His works were not simply about translating a visual preoccupation with ‘base’ materials and patterns, as Brutalism was doing. Rather, it was a challenge to some of the most established and basic ideas about the spaces we occupy and how we create them. It is perhaps here, rather than in any Brutalist building, that the idea of an ‘ethic’ to match all the rough materiality might be found.

Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty
Until 22 Aug

Tune-up for the Holidays

Discover a world of music-based educational activities that will be at your fingertips all summer long.

Whether or not you can get away on a foreign holiday this season, the school holidays offer plenty of opportunity for escapism. The London Symphony Orchestra has curated a bumper range of music activities for young people and families, no musical experience required.

In Where’s Simon? the orchestra is stuck at home and needs to rehearse. But where’s conductor, Sir Simon Rattle? In this illuminating series, find out about the different sections of the orchestra and their instruments, before testing your knowledge in a quiz.

Lockdown Listening is a variety of music listening tasks for ages seven and up, designed to be done with the minimum of preparation and equipment – often just paper and pens.

For younger children, there’s an interactive concert based on the popular children’s book Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer. Sing and play along with three original songs, and listen to pieces of classical music performed by LSO musicians.

People studying for A-Levels will find a treasure trove of information on a specially-curated YouTube playlist, plus seminars and more.

Wherever you are this summer, take the LSO with you, and you’ll never be short of an activity or two.

Explore the list of activities at

Lights, no camera, action

Embodying a true DIY ethic some filmmakers create movies without using cameras. Our new season, by Cinema Curator Tamara Anderson, will showcase some of these innovative artists.

Pink Beach, Red Desert Dream Sand Film will be showing as part of the Troubling the Image programme in our season of handmade films.

Pink Beach, Red Desert Dream Sand Film will be showing as part of the Troubling the Image programme in our season of handmade films.

Since the 1930s some experimental artists have said no to the most emblematic of film equipment and made movies their own way. They draw or paint on film, or scratch directly onto it, fix materials to the filmstrip, or purposefully decay the film stock using a variety of fluids. As our season Splash, Scratch, Dunk! shows, they use these techniques to explore issues such as feminism, identity politics, human experience, and the nature of film itself.

Los Angeles-based Jennifer West has been making films in this way since 2004. In her early work she decayed film stock using things like pickle juice, candle smoke or even urine, and in 2009 her live performance Skate the Sky saw her tape strips of film to the ramp at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, for skaterboarders to ride over. Lights, no camera, action Embodying a true DIY ethic some filmmakers create movies without using cameras. Our new season, by Cinema Curator Tamara Anderson, will showcase some of these innovative artists.

She says she’s interested in ideas of physically engaging with a location because it means the film itself has a relationship with that place. ‘It’s this collapsing of multiple marks of time: when the film was shot, and when it gets scratched or painted on or altered in any other way.’

We’ll be showing her 2017 film Pink Beach, Red Desert Dream Sand Film, which embodies this concept, as it ties together filmmaking, site location and physical records. West was invited to Sardinia by a film curator, who asked if she would make a film there. A long-time fan of Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni (Blow Up, The Passenger), she wondered if he had shot any films in Sardinia. One scene stood out, from Red Desert (1964), in which there’s a fairy tale sequence featuring a girl playing on a beach with pink sand. After acquiring the 35mm film from Russian eBay, West took that sequence to where it was filmed on ‘Pink Beach’, Budelli Island, and dragged it through the pink sands. It got wet, scratched, and covered in sand. ‘The film was actually back at that beach again, materially,’ says West. ‘It’s like collapsing both the construction of this place in the movie as this hallucinatory space of the character, and at the same time, it’s connecting that cinema history with the site where it was made, with the actual sand.’

On her return to Los Angeles, she painstakingly digitised every frame, then allowed her computer to order the images into the final edit. The results are erratic, and seem to have an additional layer of dream-like quality about them.

Australian film director Tony Lawrence seeks out damaged film as his creative starting point. We’ll be showing his film Girl on Fire (2010), which he created from 8mm footage of underwater ballet found on eBay. ‘It was cheap because of the obvious rust-like damage, which is gold to me as I know there’s a fine line between damage and transcendent destruction,’ he says. ‘Usually footage inspires ideas while I watch it and often it’s not the subject of the film but something random like a piece of film damage that happens in a synchronistic way to bring a new and deeper meaning or a glimpse into humanity.’

Lawrence transfers the film and then slows them down and watches them on a loop, while he plays piano and synthesiser ‘until I feel I have conveyed the emotion I felt when first seeing the footage’.

Self Portrait Post Mortem, will be part of the Breaking Down programme

Self Portrait Post Mortem, will be part of the Breaking Down programme

The red dust effect of the oxidisation reduction reaction which damaged this film seems only to have affected the woman performing. It looks like she has fire dancing over her. ‘Carl Jung said that in dreams water is often a representation of the subconscious and Freud said fire represents passion,’ says Lawrence. ‘To me the girl is wading through her subconscious while being engulfed by flames of passion and desire. In the final frames we see as she sinks further she has a wry smile on her face, she is enjoying being burnt in the primeval fire of instinct.’

Boris Kazakov’s 1999 film Stakes sees him paint over clips of feature films and documentaries, to deconstruct the Soviet idea of the conquering power of science and technology. He says part of the film was made from Silver Heads (1998), edited by his friend Evgeny Yufit. ‘We met at the film studio and he gave me the takes, doubles and all the rest of the material,’ he remembers. ‘Everything fitted in the trunk of the car and I took it to my place. I combined it with the film I’d acquired earlier.’

Stakes is Kazakov’s second film made this way, after Nestlings of See (1996) – he further develops the techniques he used in that first film.

Usually very short – just a few minutes long – all these films have a real impact on the viewer. The innovative techniques and perhaps the romance of the found footage leave a lasting impression that will only be enhanced by seeing them on the big screen.

Splash Scratch Dunk! Films Made by Hand
8 Jul–5 Aug
We’ve curated this season to complement the themes in our exhibition Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty.

There’s an exclusive Members’ Handmade Film Workshop, called Noisy, Licking, Dribbling and Spitting with artist film maker Vicky Smith who will guide you to make marks and scratches directly on to filmstrip before watching your work transformed when projected back. 20 Jul 6pm, Fountain Room.

It’s time to Disrupt

Innovative new digital festival explores role of the arts in society.

Can we use the pandemic as a cultural reset? Is it an opportunity to disrupt, question and challenge the ways communities and artists work together? That’s the question at the heart of new festival, DISRUPT, which will explore how Covid-19 has affected all of us.

Through a programme of discussions, panels and workshops created from open submissions and selected by a panel of 14 community members and artists, the festival was created by Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Barbican to reimagine the role of the arts in our society.

Themes include motherhood and parenting during lockdown; the increase in domestic violence; the complexities of communicating with loved ones via Zoom; the impact on mental health; and what people would like to keep from the pandemic as we move into recovery.

‘The arts are better placed than ever to shine a light on the growing inequalities experienced by society, but are the creative and social imperatives of our cultural organisations fit for purpose in meeting these people and community-based needs?’ says Sean Gregory, Director of Innovation and Engagement, Barbican & Guildhall School of Music & Drama. ‘With long-standing, established “ways of doing things” increasingly being challenged over the past year, it now feels the right time to convene a festival where we can all listen and learn from each other.

‘Above all, we genuinely hope DISRUPT can have a positive impact on the processes and structures through which organisations, artists and communities collaborate, thereby creating a more open, inclusive, and democratic partnership ecology for the future.’

The event has been created in partnership with Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance, Culture Mile, Lived Experience Network, Maya Productions, and Slung Low.

8–9 Jul
See for tickets, available on a pay-what-you-can basis

Pappano’s plan

Sir Antonio Pappano will join the London Symphony Orchestra as Chief Conductor Designate in September 2023. So what's he got planned?

Tony Pappano is a familiar face at the Barbican, having conducted over 70 concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra since his debut in 1996. The London-born pianist is certainly one for long relationships: he’s been Music Director of the Royal Opera House since 2002 and Music Director of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome since 2005.

So how does he feel about getting this prestigious role? ‘I’m very excited,’ he beams over Zoom. ‘Because I’ve known them for so long, we’ve created a relationship; we’ve been in the trenches together and made many big recordings, and therefore many big emotions have passed between us. This is such an exciting orchestra. The music just jumps off the page. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be given a chance to deepen this relationship and to go further.’

After so long with the Royal Opera House, what’s he going to feel about leaving Covent Garden? ‘I don’t feel the bite of it yet,’ he admits, ‘because I’ve got three more seasons. After Covid, I’m just dying to get back into a theatre, so I’m not thinking about leaving yet. And anyway, I’ll do something at Covent Garden every year – you don’t just throw that relationship away.’

When he finally makes the short mile-and-a-half trip east in 2023, he says he plans to continue a project focusing on English music that has so far seen him conduct Elgar and Vaughan Williams’ Fourth and Sixth Symphonies (recorded for LSO Live, to ecstatic reviews).

‘I want to continue because it’s an area of discovery for me. There’s a lot there. For example, when you say Vaughan Williams, what does that mean? His work is completely different from Symphony No 1 to 2, or No 3 to 4.

‘I’m also very interested in French music that’s not often played – so not necessarily Debussy or Ravel – and Italian music. The Italians are not especially known for their symphonic music, but they have a huge history, and some of it is very interesting and seldom heard.

‘When you take over as music director with any institution, you get a list of the repertoire that’s been performed over the last ten years; when you look at that, it’s so frightening, because you wonder to yourself “what am I supposed to do, avoid all this repertoire now? What’s left for me?” But you have to decide where the accents are going to be.’

He says he’s planning a project around dance music over the years. ‘I think we need some joy in our concerts,’ he smiles, laughing as he acknowledges opera’s reputation for being emotionally wrought. ‘Especially coming out of what we’re just experiencing, I think positivity will be very important. It should be a little contrast to balance the harshness of the psychology of living in today’s world. That sounds very flowery, but I mean it.’

Sir Antonio Pappano © Musacchio & Ianniello

Sir Antonio Pappano © Musacchio & Ianniello

Discover New Horizons

Find out what young people are making of the rapidly-shifting realities the world finds itself in, as we show a series of multi-disciplinary commissions on Level G this summer.

Subject to Change: New Horizons saw fifteen young artists paired with artist mentors to create new works that explore thetimes we’re living in. The powerful artisticworks cross poetry, film, visual art and music. Look out for the film on Level G, and find out more about the artists at

Subject to Change: New Horizons
10 Jul–30 Aug

My Barbican: Huw Humphreys

Our Head of Music reveals some surprising places that he loves best around the Centre.

Music office lift

There’s a lift that connects the Music offices to backstage at the Concert Hall. It’s like a lift that connects the planning and dreaming of projects to their realisation. It only takes about eight seconds, but it feels like quite a transformative journey – it marks something evolutionary about the way our concerts happen, and it feels like a special journey for me.

Silk Street Mezzanine

I’m not quite sure what to call this bit, but it’s the lower floor of the Shop, going from Level G to Level -1. You’ve got the Stalls on one side, the Theatre behind you, Barbican Kitchen on one side and the Shop on the other. It feels like the beating heart of the Centre – there’s a constant flow of people passing through. There’s a real buzz about it as people meet or head somewhere else in the Centre.

My seat in the Hall

I sit in the same seat for every concert. It’s in the aisle at the back of the stalls and means I can sneak out if I need to get backstage during a performance, or if I have to arrive a bit late. A concert is like sharing a communal experience – often with 2,000 people – but from here I feel a remarkable connection direct to the stage because I’ve sat there for every performance.

Music office Lift

Music office Lift

Silk Street Mezzanine

Silk Street Mezzanine

My seat in the Hall

My seat in the Hall

New Perspectives

If you’ve ever wandered around the Barbican Highwalks, you’ll have noticed the yellow line. Joana Albernaz Delgado (@joanaalbernazdelgado) is certainly a fan. ‘I keep coming back to the Barbican almost every time I am in London. Of all the small meaningful details embedded in its bold architecture, my favourite is the yellow line. Like Hansel and Gretel’s pebbles, like Ariadne’s thread, the yellow line takes me by the hand, showing me I am never lost, never on my own; in a way, it shows me I am always home.’

We love seeing your photos of the Barbican. Share yours using the hashtag #MyBarbican and we might use yours in a future edition.

A picture of activism

Take home a reminder of the powerful Claudia Andujar exhibition.

Photographer and activist Claudia Andujar’s work not only reveals the Yanomami people’s culture, but reminds us that the environmental issues are also human rights issues. Take home one of her striking images as a poster or postcard, and keep this vital message uppermost in your mind. We also have tote bags and a badge available, all from the Shop on Level G or at

Part of the profits from the sale of these items goes to the Hutukara Associação Yanomami

Exclusive Members' shopping event

Browse our unique design-led gifts and exhibition-inspired collections in a morning of exclusive shopping for Members only, and enjoy an increased 20% discount in the Barbican Shop. 25 Jul 10am, Barbican Shop.

With thanks

The City of London Corporation,
founder and principal funder

Centre Partner
Christie Digital

Major Supporters
Arts Council England
Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation
SHM Foundation
Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement
The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Terra Foundation for American Art

Corporate Supporters
Aberdeen Standard Investments
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Bank of America
Derwent London
DLA Piper
Howden M&A Limited
Leigh Day
Linklaters LLP
Morrison & Foerster
Pinsent Masons
SEC Newgate
Slaughter and May
Taittinger Champagne

Trusts & Grantmakers
Andor Charitable Trust
Art Fund
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
Cockayne – Grants for the Arts
John S Cohen Foundation
Creative Europe Programme for the European Union
Edge Foundation
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Europa Cinema
Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)
The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation
The Henry Moore Foundation
The London Community Foundation
The Mactaggart Third Fund
The Nugee Foundation
Tom ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust

Barbican Cinema has been supported by the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England which is administered by the BFI, as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund supporting arts and cultural organisations in England affected by the impact of COVID-19.

We also want to thank the Barbican Patrons, donors to Name a Seat and those who contribute to the Barbican Fund.

If you're interested in supporting the Barbican Centre Trust, visit, or contact us on 0207 382 6185 or [email protected]

The Barbican Centre Trust, registered charity no. 294282