Barbican Guide
June 2021

This month’s cover is taken by Nicolas Franck Pauly @nicolasfpouly of Sorcha Finch-Murray / @sorchafinchyoga

This month’s cover is taken by Nicolas Franck Pauly @nicolasfpouly of Sorcha Finch-Murray / @sorchafinchyoga


Art can often have a profound effect on us, but few people can claim to have used their work to change government policy. As a major new exhibition open this month, we discover how photographer Claudia Andujar used her work to help the Yanomami people of the Amazon rainforest fight for survival.

The power of tour guides to impact our understanding of a place is explored in an innovative new production that will take you on a journey around the area; and while a return to the city is something we’ve all been mulling since the lockdown, metropolises take centre stage in our cinema season.

We have a major new opera from composer Errollyn Wallen, while the London Symphony Orchestra showcases the work of young composers it’s supported through the years.

And don’t miss the new show from George The Poet, who seeks common ground when he comes here.

We can’t wait to see you here this month.

Meet the new Chair of Trustees

Inclusion will be an important goal for top City lawyer.

The new Chair of the Barbican Centre Trust says she hopes to use her own experience of the arts as a medium for inclusion to increase access to culture for underrepresented and minority communities. Farmida Bi, EMEA Chair of law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, takes over from Emma Kane to lead the charitable arm of the Barbican which raises money for the Centre.

‘I used to work near to the Barbican when I was a young lawyer,’ Bi says. ‘So I’d go to the Barbican after work for performances or to meet friends and hang out. As a transactional lawyer I would sometimes have to work 18-hour days. I would occasionally sneak out in the afternoon and see a film, just to have a couple of hours of escapism before returning to the office and working for the rest of the night. It made it all bearable.

She says she hopes to build on the Barbican’s links with City businesses in order to develop more support and closer relationships with organisations on our doorstep.

‘It’s about funding and support, but also ensuring the work the Barbican does is open to everyone working in the City and the communities here. I want to make sure everyone is aware that the work the Barbican does is relevant to them, that they’re welcome here and can enjoy it.' Looking back fondly at her time at the charity, Kane says: ‘Before I became Chair, my friends used to jokingly call it the Barbi-Kane, because I spent so much time here. It’s been a huge part of my life for so long.

‘While the pandemic wasn’t quite the way I’d envisaged my final year as Chair, the Trust has been incredibly lucky because our supporters have stayed loyal – for which we’re so grateful. It’s meant we’ve been able to do some amazing work with young people and the communities we serve. Our motto of “arts without boundaries” really came into its own with things such as live streaming. The team at the Barbican is incredible and I’m full of admiration for them.’

You can support our work in a variety of ways. Find out how at

Let your ears take you on a journey

What power do tour guides have, and how willing are we to believe everything they tell us? This is one of the questions being explored in an innovative production that’ll give you a new perspective on a familiar city.

Ramzi Maqdisi and Olivia Furber created The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than Its Map, which will take you on a trip to another city. It’s part of this year’s Shubbak Festival. Image ©Hadeel Sameera

Ramzi Maqdisi and Olivia Furber created The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than Its Map, which will take you on a trip to another city. It’s part of this year’s Shubbak Festival. Image ©Hadeel Sameera

Showing as part of Shubbak Festival: London's festival of contemporary Arab Culture, The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than Its Map takes you on an audio tour around the Square Mile, with one key difference: the descriptions you’re hearing are from another city entirely.

Created by Palestinian actor and filmmaker Ramzi Maqdisi and British theatremaker Olivia Furber, it explores the authoritative voice of tour guides and our preparedness to believe them.

‘This is really powerful and quite dangerous,’ says Furber. ‘When we researched it, we found that many of the more repressive regimes strongly moderate and control their tour guiding industry to make sure that the narrative that’s told is fixed, and no one deviates from it.’

While developing the idea, Furber and Maqdisi realised that visitors didn’t want to question what they were being told. On a test visit to Munich, they fabricated a city tour and invited people to take part. ‘We walked around and found things that looked interesting and created stories around them to bring them to life,’ says Furber. ‘Some of them were ridiculous. Others were more believable. But what was so incredible from the tour was that people either believed them or they just wanted to. They would come up to you afterwards and be like, “Is that real? Did that really happen?”’

They specifically wanted to work with the audio tour format because it offers a very personal experience for audiences, says Furber. ‘This idea of an art form where someone is whispering in your ear, or talking to you directly, is very intimate. It’s much more conversational. We both come from a theatre background and love it, but there’s a certain frustration at how much can we directly speak to a person when we’re showing them something on the screen or a stage?’

Ramzi says giving people the chance to use their own imaginations to conjure the places described in the audio tour has a powerful impact on audiences.

In the 70-minute experience, you’ll be transported to a different city to hear about places there while looking at familiar landmarks in London. Unlike the test events, everything you’ll hear is true. Let your ears be your guide.

The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than its Map takes place 25 Jun–4 July

Putting cities centre stage

Frequently the backdrop for films, cities are rarely the stars. But a new season will showcase films that put the city at the heart of the action. Cinema Curator Alex Davidson gives us a guided tour.

Long Day’s Journey into Night

Long Day’s Journey into Night

The barren streets of cities usually bustling with life has been among the most indelible images of the last year. These vital and buzzing spaces have been transformed into urban deserts, depriving many of us of the company and community we so need. Now, after so many months of lockdown, it is time to return to the city through six international films that rediscover very different urban spaces with a diversity of storytellers. See familiar cities such as Las Vegas, Paris and Cairo in a way you’ve never seen them in a cinema before.

The city symphony is a genre that flourished in the 1920s, when silent filmmakers created jaw-dropping spectacles that either revelled in the majesty of the cityscape or critiqued the decadence of urban life. We take a dive through two very different takes on the city symphony for our season Return to the City. In Free Time (1960/2020), which has its UK premiere at the Barbican, master of the American city symphony Manfred Kirchheimer has meticulously restored and constructed 16mm black-and-white footage he and Walter Hess shot in New York in the late 1950s. While other city symphonies often lean towards basking in the visual glory of the metropolis, Kirchheimer is more interested in the everyday activities of the various neighbourhoods’ residents. Children play stickball while elderly couples flick through newspapers on their stoops. The footage was shot in several distinct New York neighbourhoods, including Washington Heights, the Upper West Side, and Hell’s Kitchen, and features evocative stops throughout the city, making time for an auto junkyard in Inwood and a cemetery in Queens. It’s a mesmerising journey through time back to a New York that has changed radically over the decades, while the symphony elements are provided courtesy of Ravel, Bach, Eisler, and jazz pianist Count Basie.

Compare that to the exhilarating, pounding sounds of Lima Screams (2018), in which we are plunged into an extraordinary soundscape of psychedelic rock and experimental electronica. This is no ordinary city symphony but an immersive and thrillingly disorientating walk on the wild side of Peru’s capital, with heady neon-lit visuals. It’s truly a symphony for the 2020s, where political protesters take to the streets and the city screams around us.

Paris and Las Vegas are two cities that immediately evoke familiar images, yet two very different films turn these perceptions inside out, to show you marginalised lives away from tourist trappings. Sidney Sokhona’s Nationalité: Immigré (1975) may feature brief, ironic shots of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, but its focus is on showing the realities of West African immigrant life in 1970s Paris. It’s a ferocious and fresh critique of racism and poverty, as a young man arrives from Mauritania and immediately struggles to find work and accommodation, told at a time of great political turmoil, leading to strikes depicted in the film, led by Sokhona and his migrant neighbours. This screening is introduced by Awa Konaté of Culture Art Event, who curated the event.

For those who attended our sold-out Returning the Colonial Gaze screenings, when we presented work by bold filmmakers that reversed the ‘colonial gaze’ and interrogated the former occupying nation from new perspectives, Nationalité: Immigré will be a thrilling discovery.

Meanwhile, Nina Menkes ignores the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas in Queen of Diamonds (1991), offering a flipside view, as an alienated casino croupier, whose husband has gone missing, drifts through menacing encounters. The film, newly restored, is ripe for rediscovery.

For those hungry for cinematic splendour, Bi Gan’s noir-tinged Long Day’s Journey into Night (2018), in which a man returns to his hometown and obsessively hunts for a former lover, offers visual inventiveness in spades. Shot in Kaili in South East China, the final hour, told in a dazzling, gravity-defying single 3D take, has to be seen to be believed.

Finally, for a classic of world cinema, Youssef Chahine’s masterpiece Cairo Station (1958) is a study in passion and violence, as a newspaper vendor becomes romantically obsessed with a drinks seller in the world of Egypt’s biggest train station, a microcosm of a city inhabited by marginalised communities.

Following the cinema screenings in June, many of the films will be available across the UK on Barbican Cinema On Demand. Each film offers a different take on the city, represented in a way that only cinema has the power to do. We have been deprived of these spaces for far too long – it’s great to have them back.

Return to the City takes place from 8–27 June

Future Music

The London Symphony Orchestra has long been a champion of new music. This month’s LSO Futures – a concert devoted to music of the 21st century – celebrates some of the artists and works that have come through its schemes supporting early career composers.

Ayanna Witter-Johnson was on the Londons Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Composers Scheme in 2008. Her work Fairtrade? will be performed this month © Nick Howe

Ayanna Witter-Johnson was on the Londons Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Composers Scheme in 2008. Her work Fairtrade? will be performed this month © Nick Howe

It features not only the UK premiere of a concerto written for violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja by Francisco Coll (on the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme in 2009), but works from two further composers who are alumni of the scheme, alongside music from living legend Betsy Jolas.

The scheme was devised by the LSO in association with Lady Panufnik in memory of her husband Sir Andrzej, and is supported by Helen Hamlyn and The Helen Hamlyn Trust. Each year it sees six people chosen to spend twelve months developing a three-minute piece of music for full orchestra. They’re supported along the way through workshops with musicians, access to orchestra rehearsals and tailored support from composers Colin Matthews and Christian Mason. The scheme culminates in a day of full orchestral workshops of the six pieces, after which two composers are commissioned to write longer works for performance by the LSO at the Barbican.

This month we’ll hear performances of Fairtrade? by Ayanna Witter-Johnson (on the LSO Panufnik Composers scheme in 2008) and Flēotan by Charlie Piper (2007). The music for both pieces has been released by LSO Live on the Panufnik Legacies album series.

Witter-Johnson says Fairtrade? is about raising awareness of sweatshops and the fashion industry. ‘What I wanted to do was create a sonic version of the factory and the workings and to give voice to people who aren’t often given a platform to share their experiences or speak. You hear the machines, you feel the brutality of it, you feel the atmosphere, the stress, the tension. We take so many things for granted in our society; we don’t really think through the consequences of things that just come so easily. Popping out to pick up a T-shirt is hundreds of hours of work for someone else somewhere else.’

Piper says ‘Flēotan’ is an old-English word that has the double meaning of floating but also fleeting. ‘I imagined an object floating in the wind, and the fleeting part is that it keep shifting; nothing stays still for long as it gets pulled around by the currents. It starts very statically and then twists off in different directions, building to a huge climax in a short space of time.’

Since taking part in the LSO Panufnik Composers scheme, Witter-Johnson says she’s become ‘more confident in merging the two sides of me, the more classical training and the singer-songwriter commercial side.’ She adds her music now is best described as ‘Orchestral R&B’. ‘I guess there’s always something culturally driven about it. A lot of the music I write right now reflects my heritage in some way. There’s some element of being a British-born Jamaican Londoner, there’s some aspect of that that comes through in the music regardless of the setting or the ensemble or the form.’

And while Piper is reluctant to put a label on his writing, he says Flēotan is quite different to what he’d write at the moment. ‘I feel like I’ve finally got to an age where I just write the music I want; I feel like I don’t have to be showing off or appealing to certain people. It took me a long time to get to that point. I feel like when I was younger, I was quite consciously trying to appeal to certain people, certain conductors, certain audiences. I think I got a bit tired of that, and now I’m just writing the music that appeals to me and being less self-conscious about it.’

LSO Futures takes place on Sunday 13 June

A classic love story

Errollyn Wallen’s new opera is a companion piece to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. She tells us it’s a work that embodies a lifetime of her influences.

Composer Errollyn Wallen has been ‘obsessed’ with the character of Dido for most of her life. ‘I don’t exactly know why,’ she laughs. ‘It’s something about the fact it’s this big love that only the gods could rent asunder. She’s a powerful woman brought low by a rogue – but after her death, she’s transcended earthly vanity; she’s become a myth.’ Who better, then, to write a new opera to accompany Purcell’s masterpiece Dido and Aeneas?

Dido’s Ghost is Wallen’s latest work and premieres here this month. Set several years after the Carthaginian queen’s death, it finds Dido’s sister Anna abandoned on the shores of Aeneas’s new kingdom, igniting a murderous jealously in his wife, Lavinia.

Embedded in this new work is a performance of the Baroque classic. Was it a little daunting, taking on such a well-loved piece of music? ‘I’m always like this, and I end up cursing myself,’ smiles the award-winning composer from her home. ‘I say, “Oh, that’s a brilliant idea”, and it’s only when I’m three-quarters of the way through, I think, “what the hell have I done?”’

This fearlessness reflects Wallen’s free-spirited approach to music – her own Ensemble X’s motto is ’We don’t break down barriers in music… we don’t see any’ – and she’s worked across the musical spectrum from pop to writing a new version of Jerusalem for last year’s Last Night of the Proms.

Her relationship with Dido – and this story – goes back to her childhood. Born in Belize, she moved to London aged two, where she was brought up by an aunt and uncle. At thirteen, she went to a school where the class had already been doing Latin for a year. So while racing to catch up with the grammar, she was immersed in texts such as Caesar’s Gallic War, ‘things that made absolutely no sense for a girl from Tottenham’.

After dutifully ploughing through texts she had little interest in, she was eventually introduced to the Aeneid, an epic poem written by Virgil that includes the tragic tale of Dido and Aeneas. Translating these stories into English set off a spark inside her says ‘had probably always been there’.

And it was when she heard Dido’s Lament, that most famous piece of music from Purcell’s opera, that the spark became a fire, and she says she’s been slightly obsessed with it ever since. ‘That knocked me sideways, because I still think it’s the best and most complete, and yet the most economical aria ever written. It had a massive effect on me, just as it has with all kinds of musicians right across the spectrum.’

Writing a new piece of music based on another person’s work would be challenging enough, but taking on such a behemoth of the opera canon must have presented its own difficulties, even for someone with as distinctive a voice as Wallen. How much did Purcell’s work influence hers?

‘When I was looking at his music, I realise that it’s always influenced me. My greatest influence is probably Bach, but the tonality of Purcell’s music is so intriguing. I totally understand the way Tippet, Britten and others got so excited when they rediscovered his music. In fact, studying this so closely has helped me understand Britten and Tippet more.’

She says her deep examination of the score made her think deeply about how a composer absorbs the librettist’s words but then takes them on another journey. ‘I marvel at his word-setting; it’s very subtle. There are bits in mine where things can be very dramatic; I push things, I use dissonance, I use big leaps in the voice. His sits in the voice in a certain way. There’s something very formal about it. There’s a contrast between our works.’

The cast for Dido’s Ghost is very exciting. Wallen is making the most of the dramatic range of Allison Cook (singing Lavinia), and worked particularly closely with Matthew Cook (Aeneas) because he has much more to sing in her opera than Purcell’s. The composer says the opportunity to write once again for Golda Schultz (Dido) after they last worked together on the Last Night of the Proms performance in 2020 is ’a real moment. She’s extraordinary’.

Wallen says she’s also particularly enjoyed the combination of writing for an opera voice and the period instruments of the Dunedin Consort, which have the gut strings that produce very little vibrato. ‘These different sound worlds offer me a variety of textures.’

Dido’s Ghost: Live from the Barbican takes place on Sunday 6 June

Errollyn Wallen has a lifelong love of the story of Dido and Aeneas. © Azzurra Primavera

Errollyn Wallen has a lifelong love of the story of Dido and Aeneas. © Azzurra Primavera

Finding common ground

George The Poet wants people to come together to create conversation. He’s just the person to do it.

George the Poet

George the Poet

At a time when people make careers off the back of division and fact-free opinions, listening to George the Poet speak is a joy.

Ruthlessly well-researched and considered, he advances his advocacy with authority, but in a way that’s super-relatable. Drawing on references from Shakespeare to Tupac, there’s a deep humanity in all of it. And even when there are uncomfortable truths for some of his listeners, there’s no blame, no finger pointing, no demonisation. What he’s searching for is common ground.

That’ll come as no surprise to fans of his wildly successful podcast, the third season of which was being finalised at the time of writing. Highlights of it will form part of his show here, mixed with music from across the canon of the Black diaspora, performed by a small ensemble of classical musicians.

He says this latest instalment of Have You Heard George’s Podcast? will explore and share the common Black experience. ‘At the start of my career, a lot of my poetry was a stream of consciousness, whatever I felt, or whatever I came across that I found fascinating,’ he explains. ‘Over time the same things kept coming up: it started off with the Black community here in Britain, then my scope became more international. The more time I spent in Uganda, for example, the more I got into Ugandan politics, I started noticing some consistencies about the African experience, the Black British experience, and the African American experience.

‘I had a sense that that story needed to be tied together, because snatching little insights here and there about “this is how we live in Britain”, “these are the challenges in Uganda”, that’s not the same as being able to present a listener with a whole story about “this is what is going on with Black people”.'

He says the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has made it easier to tell this story. ‘There’s a lot to explain. And we are woefully behind in the explanation. So I’m grateful for the opportunity to dedicate my career to that.’

Growing up on an estate on Neasden, George Mpanga wanted to be a rapper from the age of 15. But it was while studying politics, psychology and sociology at Cambridge that he evolved his style into spoken word poetry. And he uses his poetry as advocacy, particularly effectively by taking statistics about things that disproportionally affect Black people, such as deprivation, mental health problems and incarceration, and telling the human stories behind them.

‘As someone who’s Black, you become indignant that the world thinks this is all normal – “Africa is just poor”, “Africa is just disorganised”. The Black British community also lacks the political representation that would strengthen their ability to control their destiny, and save some of the young people from the problems that they’re in, that we see in the media over time.

‘You start getting indignant, where the world just thinks that this is normal, and that there’s not an essential education that needs to be had.’

So is the podcast a way of reaching a broader audience – people you might not otherwise be able to?

‘Very much so. The podcast started in 2018; since then it’s been how I present myself to the world. I chose this format because in my mid 20s, I started to get a sense that I needed to be able to bring audiences together, I needed to be able to bridge gaps between communities in order to create new opportunities for common ground, for us to move forward together. The podcast emerged as a way that I could do that. I had confidence that if I could construct a really empathetic, respectful, artistic and inspirational conversation in the form of a podcast, then it would disarm people and open their minds to my argument.’

If like many people you find yourself full of questions or fired up with energy after the show, George is launching a new platform called Common Ground, built by friends of his. ‘It’s a way for you to continue that conversation with me directly after the listening experience,’ he explains. The idea came to him because the generally accepted behaviour is for celebrities and people in the media to talk at others. And if they want to respond, they turn to social media. But Mpanga isn’t about monologues, and social media isn’t streamlined enough. He wants conversation. ‘With the podcast, we have something to talk about, something uplifting. So let’s take that space. And let’s just talk. The natural name for that was Common Ground, because that’s what I hope to arrive at with the listener.’

George the Poet: Live from the Barbican takes place on Thursday 1 July

Art and activism

Through her photographs, Claudia Andujar conveyed something of the world of the Yanomami; but when the community was threatened, she put the images to a new and powerful use – helping them fight for survival.

Claudia Andujar holding The Guardian, London, 1989 © Robert M. Davis/Oxfam

Claudia Andujar holding The Guardian, London, 1989 © Robert M. Davis/Oxfam

When you think about the Amazon rainforest, what first pops into your mind’s eye? The richness of the plants and variety of animal species? A wildlife documentary? Now be honest: how much do you think about the Indigenous people who live there?

It’s because the voices of these tribes are so often erased from conversations about the environment that the photography and activism of Claudia Andujar is particularly poignant right now. She’s spent five decades campaigning with the Yanomami, probably the most famous Indigenous people living in Brazil and Venezuela. We’re hosting a major exhibition dedicated to her art and human rights work.

Claudia Andujar: The Yanomami Struggle includes more than 200 photographs, a film and a series of drawings by the Yanomami, and shows us the duality of her career – as artist and activist.

Andujar first visited the Yanomami in 1971 for an article and quickly became fascinated by their worldview. ‘They quickly became a second family to me,’ she recalls.

Inspired by her visit, she set out to create a photo essay of the society and people she admired, adopting a very different style to that of her contemporaries. Rather than simply documenting what she saw, she wanted to express something of the spirit world that the Yanomami perceived all around them. By using infra-red film, Vaseline on her lenses, flash devices and other techniques, she created visual distortions and streaks of light in her images, to convey an idea of how the Yanomami understood the forest.

‘In the first half of her life she was searching for photographic representation of something that was immaterial, that was abstract; of a people and a culture, and of a way of seeing the world that she wanted to give a photographic form to,’ says exhibition curator Thyago Nogueira, Head of Contemporary Photography at the Instituto Moreira Salles in Brazil.

‘That differed from the more journalistic photography that was conducted with Indigenous populations at that time. Many photographers visiting Indigenous lands were working with this idea of photography being a neutral objective tool for documenting “the other”. That created a distance between who’s documenting and who’s documented. The more Claudia established a strong personal relation with the Yanomami, the more complex her representation of what she thinks the Yanomami cosmovision is, becomes.

‘Hers is a very beautiful example of an artist searching for a way to represent something Art and activism she feels. This is part of her first experience with the Yanomami – to give material form to things that are invisible, to cultural aspects and the bonds that define a society that is different from the one you come from.’

But by the late 1970s, Brazilian government plans for a transcontinental highway in the Amazon saw the region denuded by deforestation and invasive agricultural programmes brought devastating epidemics to the Yanomami – wiping out whole communities. As a Second World War refugee to the Americas, whose Jewish father and many other members of her family died at the hands of the Nazis, Andujar saw resonance with the genocide in Europe and knew she must act.

Collective house near the Catholic mission on the Catrimani River, Roraima, 1976. Infrared film. © Claudia Andujar

Collective house near the Catholic mission on the Catrimani River, Roraima, 1976. Infrared film. © Claudia Andujar

‘When I saw the threats the Yanomami were facing, I decided to devote my time to helping them obtain the demarcation of the land they occupied so that it would be officially recognised by Brazilian law,’ she says.

Working alongside Yanomami shaman and leader Davi Kopenawa, Italian missionary Carlo Zacquini, and French anthropologist Bruce Albert, Andujar stopped focussing on the artistic side of her work and set about using her photography as a campaigning tool.

It worked. After fourteen years, the Brazilian government agreed to legally demarcate Yanomami territory. But now, that protection is under threat once more, this time from the Bolsonaro government.

‘From the beginning, Claudia was very clear about the fact her goal was to do something that was subjective from the start, that was personal and not impartial,’ says Nogueira.

‘But the most important thing about Claudia’s work is understanding that what justifies photography is the ethical commitment that surrounds it. When she first met the Yanomami, she faced a society that didn’t like photography, that was not very comfortable in being represented by it. But she went through a long process of creating common comprehension that photography could be used by the Yanomami to protect them from the violence created by the society of the people that were photographing them.

‘This is at the heart of Claudia’s work: learning to navigate this paradox through an interrogation of the ethical commitment. How is this work being used? And for what reason? And in which context?

‘The key thing to understand is that the answer to this paradox is not one that Claudia can give – it’s something she and the Yanomami have to build together. That’s why she’s always consulting Davi on how to use her images, how to do her exhibitions. They have a strong bond and a commitment that continually evolves.’

Critical moment

In order to bring together the two key strands of Andujar’s work, Nogueira went to her house every week for two years to look through her archive and talk with the photographer.

As well as understanding the importance of activism to Andujar’s work, Noguiera was inspired by the publication of Kopenawa’s book The Falling Sky in 2013, in which he shares his life and Yanomami culture. ‘Here was a new opportunity of having Yanomami people talking about the images, and narrating their stories,’ says Nogueira, adding even in Brazil when people saw Andujar’s photos of the Yanomami, ‘we tended to look at them as a very idealised and romanticised representation of an Indigenous personality or figure’.

The exhibition has toured the world and now arrives in London at a critical moment for the Yanomami who are facing encroachment from illegal gold miners emboldened by President Bolsonaro, bringing with them diseases such as Covid-19 – and as the UK prepares to host the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, in November.

‘One of the important things about this exhibition is to try to make the agenda of the climate and environmental destruction more complex, in terms of showing people that the protection of the environment and the forests and the Amazonia is also a human rights problem,’ says Nogueira. ‘All these lands are not empty. The Indigenous populations living in those places are the ones that need to teach us how to manage those places and how to keep protecting them, because we have realised that we don’t know how to do this.’

He says the first time this exhibition came to Europe, he realised how the discourse about ‘saving the Amazonian rainforest’ was frequently about animals and lush forests, but no-one spoke about the Indigenous populations. ‘I could see people were very worried about the burning of the trees and the diversity of bees, but I was travelling with people that were being exterminated, and they were being completely ignored from that discourse, despite having this very deep knowledge about how to look after the rainforests.’

As Kopenawa says: ‘Claudia came to Brazil and the Yanomami lands, thinking about her project. Though not Yanomami, she is a true friend. She took photographs of childbirth, of women, of children. I did not know how to fight against politicians and non-Indigenous people, but she gave me the tools to defend our people, land, language, customs, festivals, dances, chants and shamanism. It is important to me and to you to see the work she did and respect the Yanomami people of Brazil who have lived in this land for many years.’

Claudia Andujar: The Yanomani Struggle takes place in The Curve from 17 June–29 August

My Barbican: Ebony-Gale Ward

Our Development Officer says people-watching is a favourite pastime. Here are her best spots to watch the hustle and bustle.

Balcony from Art Gallery

Like many people, the Art Gallery was my gateway into the world that is Barbican, enticing me in with its blockbuster shows and cheap Young Barbican tickets. Between artworks, I always find myself gravitating to a particular spot on the balcony, taking a moment to ponder and watch those below. My sense of time disappears while I soak up the ambience of the space. During the lockdown I missed these moments in the gallery the most.

Sculpture Court

Hidden within the sweeping Frobisher
Crescent is the sculpture court that never was.
In the absence of purpose this spot feels like
a secret oasis, allowing me to catch a stolen
moment with the estate. That means finding a
spot tucked away in the planted benches and
curling up with a book while I enjoy the fleeting
lunch break sun. Or catching a quiet moment
with the sleeping Conservatory as I scurry
across the court after a late night fundraising
event. Our office is also a great spot from
which to watch the music videos and fashion
shoots happening on the court – there’s never
a dull day on the job.

Level G

For me, this is THE melting pot of The Barbican and the ultimate people-watching platform. If you sit for long enough you’ll catch people working, chatting, playing, rehearsing or even napping; there are so many idiosyncrasies to behold! This is a truly democratic and communal space, something that feels sacred in central London. I love the pre-show buzz of people darting left and right to grab their last drink before curtains up.

Balcony from Art Gallery

Balcony from Art Gallery

Sculpture Court

Sculpture Court

Level G

Level G

Let's go outside

Head to the Barbican Kitchen for alfresco refreshment

Summer in full swing means spending time outdoors is on the menu. With views across the Lakeside to the medieval church St Giles Cripplegate, the Barbican Kitchen on Level G is just the ticket for a bite to eat and a refreshing drink.

Whether you’re coming to see something showing at the Centre, here to admire the architecture, or looking for somewhere for an after-work wind-down, there’s plenty of seating.

With pick-me-up coffees and teas, enlivening cold drinks, or something a little stronger, there’s a wide range to choose from while you browse the menu. Can you decide between pizzas, jacket potatoes, sandwiches, wraps, salads, or one of the tempting cakes and pastries?

Take home a work of art

Discover a wide range of posters, book and more related to our exhibition, Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty.

A3 digital prints

If the eye-popping work created by Jean Dubuffet has inspired you, take home one of our exclusive A3 prints. There are six to choose from, all of which you will have seen in our exhibition.

Tote Bag

Featuring a reproduction of Dubuffet’s The Extravagant One (L’Extravagante), this 100% cotton tote bag means you can carry the father of Art Brut’s work with you wherever you go. How extravagante

Magnets, bookmarks and notebooks

Pick up one of these handy-sized reminders of this first exhibition of Dubuffet’s work in the UK for over 50 years. Featuring either a reproduction of The Extravagant One (L’Extravagante), or the portrait of author and actor Antonin Artaud, they’re sure to be noticed.

Exhibiton Catalogue

Take a deep dive into the life and work of one of the most provocative post-war artists with this magnificent 288-page catalogue. Featuring more than 200 illustrations and essays from experts such as Kent Mitchell Minturn, Rachel E Perry, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Lombardi, Sophie Berrebi and Camille Houzé, it explores more than four decades of Dubuffet’s output and the Art Brut artists who inspired him so profoundly.

Members get 15% discount on items in our shop, among many other benefits.

Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition Catalogue

Tote Bag

Tote Bag

New Perspectives

Tom Cavill (@tomcavill) says: ‘I could write a thousand things that I loved about living on the Barbican Estate; from morning coffees looking over the lake, to the echoes of practising Guildhall music students soundtracking my walk back from work. But my favourite thing was having friends visit and sharing the gardens with them. It’s my favourite place in the world.’ We love seeing your photos – share them with us @BarbicanCentre, and we might feature one of yours in a future edition of the Guide.

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