Londoners will be able to get up close and personal with their city’s architectural and cultural history in May during Birkbeck, University of London’s Arts Week 2016.
From an exploration of Covent Garden Piazza’s long-gone original structure, to a wander among the West End’s media industry heritage, a series of free walking tours will run as part of the college’s annual showcase of the arts, which this year runs from 16 to 20 May.
Highlights of the walking tour series are:
(Monday 16 May, 5-6pm. Meeting at the south-west corner of Covent Garden piazza by NatWest Bank)
Not much remains of Covent Garden’s physical structure as it was between 1631 and 1830 – but, with the aid of contemporary images, and a lot of imagination, it is possible to recover something of how the piazza was viewed across those first two hundred years. Join Dr Thom Braun for an illustrated walk around Covent Garden piazza.
(Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 May, 5-5.50pm. Meeting outside 43 Gordon Square)
Dr Leslie Topp and Nic Sampson of Birkbeck’s Architecture Space and Society Centre will lead two linked but self-standing tours unearthing the hidden and not-so-hidden traces of architectural modernism in Bloomsbury. Behind the demure Georgian facades we’ll find stories of gentle liberation, false starts and fraught battles.
(Wednesday 18 May, 2-5pm. Meeting at the southwest corner of Fitzroy Square, W1)
This guided walking tour, led by Birkbeck’s Dr Joel McKim and Dr Scott Rodgers (Birkbeck), explores West End London as a lens into the media in city life and its environments. Join us to visit a range of buildings and neighbourhoods associated with major media industries. We will also observe some of the more unconventional forms of urban media and communication.
(Friday 20 May, 4-5.30pm. Meeting outside the National Portrait Gallery main entrance, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE)
Join us for a guided tour of the politics and power plays of the Stuart era (1603 and 1714). Taking portraits as our starting point, we will attempt to reconstruct some of the careers of those at the courts of James I and VI and his son – and the lives of those who fell from favour. Decide whether James I was poisoned, whether Ben Jonson loved his king, and what happened to Arbella Stuart.
Running parallel to these tours will be the Arts Week Competition 2016. Titled “London Relocated”, the competition centres on the ever changing nature of London’s architecture. Members of the public are invited to submit a photo of any artefact or remnant of London’s ever shifting built environment – such as a sign, a map or a monument – along with 150 words about why it’s interesting. Up to two entries per person can be sent to Londonrelocated@bbk.ac.uk before 18 May, for a chance to win a £100 book token.
Birkbeck Arts Week, the College’s annual celebration of arts and culture, will this year feature the widest programme in the festival’s five-year history, with more than 50 free events for the public to attend.
Primarily hosted in and around the School of Arts (43-47 Gordon Square), the 2016 programme includes a packed schedule of lectures, performances, screenings, book launches, workshops and discussions. It features contributions from Birkbeck’s own academics and guest artists and scholars from all over the world.
Professor Hilary Fraser, Dean of Arts, said the walking tours reflect one of Arts Week 2016’s wider themes: ‘exploration’.
She said: “The walking tours at this year’s Arts Week offer a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to explore their everyday surroundings through a new lens, as guided by a team of experts in the history and architecture of the area.
“These events are part of a key thread running through this year’s programme; the theme of ‘exploration’. Whether it is attending one of these local walks, a panel session such as the ‘Writing Arctic Disaster’ event, the special showcase of Colombian filmmaking, or any event across the week, we hope to inspire our community to discover and explore the world around them at the points where the arts and research come together.”
Birkbeck Arts Week 2016 runs from runs from May 16 to 20. To see the full programme of free public events visit www.bbk.ac.uk/artsweek, at facebook.com/BirkbeckArts or on Twitter @birkbeck_arts (being sure to use the hashtag #BBKArtsWeek). While attendance at all events is free, booking is essential.
Listen to the Arts Week 2016 preview episode of Birkbeck Voices:
Find out more
About the Arts Week Competition 2016: “London Relocated”
London is a city which is constantly changes. Every day Londoners pass a notice that ‘near this place’ something happened, or find a monument made up of sections of an old wall, or even, like Temple Bar, a whole chunk of the city removed and re-sited. This year Arts Week wants to find out more about bits of London that have been relocated. We are interpreting this widely – notices and signs of events close by count, as well as actual monuments. The prize is £100 book token.
To enter send us ONE image (photograph, map, or something else) of ‘London Relocated’ and up to 150 words telling us what it is and why it is interesting. Not more than TWO entries per person, please. Email your entry to Londonrelocated@bbk.ac.uk.
Closing date 18 May 6pm. .