There’s always something going on along London’s South Bank. Lining the River Thames from Westminster bridge to Blackfriars, it bustles with people and activity all year around. It’s home to some of London’s most popular attractions from the London Eye to the aquarium and National Theatre.
One of the prominent spaces in the area is London’s Southbank Centre. The huge arts area includes the Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery and the Poetry Library. It’s the UK’s biggest arts centre with over 5,000 events taking place every year – with plenty on for families.
Throughout 2017, the Southbank Centre has been showcasing Nordic art and influences in its Nordic Matters series. On a recent visit to the area, we stopped to take note of the bright orange benches which had taken over the front of the Southbank Centre and along the river.
These aren’t just any benches. But quirky, misshaped benches. The installation, entitled Modified Social Benches, is by Danish artist Jeppe Hein. The ten benches are part of 16 which have been exhibited in New York’s Brooklyn Park. The aim is to make people more aware of sitting by creating alternative seating spaces.
My daughter wasted no time in trying them out and testing the less conventional ways of sitting. Just as the artist intended.
This bench seemed to confuse a lot of people who simply wanted to rest their legs. Not Mrs T. She found a way to sit on it.
Stand on it.
And use it as a slide too (which she particularly enjoyed).
She attempted to make this curved bench into a slide too.
But it also doubled up as a makeshift bed.
The hammock-like quality to this bench made it irresistible to lie on.
While this bench provided a nice spot to ‘lean in’.
Mrs T had lots of fun experimenting with the benches (and posing for my photos) and there were plenty of others testing them too. A delightful addition to the area for the summer which has achieved one of its aims to help encourage interaction and create a fun and playful environment.
Some of the other Scandinavian art on show at the Southbank Centre include a magical interactive exhibition at the Adventures in Moominland. Exploring the life and work of Finnish children’s author Tove Jansson, it’s ideal for older children and adult fans of the series. Nell at Pigeon Pair and Me enjoyed the experience so much she went twice!
There’s also the opportunity to learn Swedish songs and get crafty as well as watch the Scandinavian circus, Cirkus Cirkor.
The Southbank centre is also offering a weekly Pram Jam for pre-schoolers with singing, dancing and stories. Live performances by Nigerian rap artist BREIS will be taking places as part of Poetry Utopia. Visit the website to discover the full programme of activities.
The South Bank is always a delight to wander along and the Modified Social Benches certainly helped to brighten and enlighten us, and others, as we went about our day.
Have you been to the Southbank Centre? What’s your favourite attraction along the South Bank?