Category Archives: Events

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This Sunday, Regent Street will become your personal time-machine of transport design

Whether you enjoy being one step ahead, curiously looking out for future innovations, or you are more of a Victorian, born in the wrong century, Sunday’s Transported by Design festival has you covered, as Regent Street divides into past, present and future zones.

For one day, this exciting festival will transform the iconic location into a spectacular display of transport design, taking you back to the Victorian times, where you can see horse-drawn buses, and leading you from the present to the future. During the day the road will be closed to traffic, marking the start of ‘Summer Streets’, which will see Regent Street go traffic-free every Sunday in July.

The free event will be hosted by TfL and the London Transport Museum, bringing heritage vehicles to the streets of Central London. Not only will this offer a window on how Londoners used to travel back in the old days, but you will also have a chance to experience classic advertising posters, maps and signage from the past.

Transported by Design - press imageThe festival will stretch from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, giving an idea of what the future of transport design may look like, while also offering great insight into its history and present.

There will be a range of fun activities for all ages, including a London Transport Museum pop-up shop, a kids’ zone, a ‘Cycle Spin Fun’ zone hosted by Santander Cycles, and ‘Moquette Land’ – a hip showcase of the colourful fabric used on the transport network.

Within the ‘London 2040’ future zone you can see, hear, and feel what transport could look like in the future, through a sensory cinema, virtual reality headsets, and a selection of TED-style talks on technology and design.

The event runs for one day only, Sunday the 3rd of July from midday to 6pm.

Images from TfL

Flashback: The BISR Guilt Group, in conversation with Patrick Marber

On the 17th of May, Dr James Brown of the Birkbeck Institute of Social Research’s (BISR) Guilt Working Group  chaired a Q&A discussion and film screening with playwright and director Patrick Marber in the School of Arts, as part of Birkbeck Arts Week.

Here, the Birkbeck community were treated to a retrospective of Marber’s multi-faceted career as stand-up comic, television scriptwriter, playwright, screenwriter and director.

As a screenwriter he has adapted his own hit play Closer (2004), as well as novels by Patrick McGrath (Asylum, 2005) and Zoe Heller (Notes on a Scandal, 2006), the latter earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Patrick’s love of literature became evident at the age of 15: “I wanted my books to be in the school library. I wanted to be a writer, like the people I loved. The writers who have inspired me through the years have included Graham Greene, Harold Pinter, Ian McEwan, Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde and Philip Roth. I also like restoration plays. It’s important for the dialogue to sparkle.”

Studying English at Wadham College, Oxford under literary theorist Terry Eagleton, Patrick initially branched out into comedy, working as a puppeteer, and as one half of a slapstick duo with fellow student Guy Browning, then as a solo stand-up comic at The Oxford Revue: “I never wanted a proper job. I was biding my time. With stand-up, I only had to work twenty minutes in the evening! I tried to write a satirical poem but it blew my confidence and I felt defeated. I didn’t feel comfortable writing prose.”

However, Patrick was still determined to write a novel, and after graduating in 1991, stayed in Paris for six months. Returning dispirited, he was approached by an Oxford contemporary, BBC producer Armando Iannucci, to work on Radio 4’s On The Hour. Following on from this success, he collaborated with Steve Coogan on The Day Today and Knowing me, Knowing youwith Alan Partridge, where he also took on acting roles, including the delightfully incompetent reporter Peter O’ Hanraha-hanrahan. Patrick looks back on this time as an invaluable learning opportunity; “I had a seven year ‘apprenticeship’ on radio and television, I felt I had some confidence for once. I also felt better expressing myself as other people.”

At the relatively late age of 31, he made his theatre debut with 1995’s Dealer’s Choice, which premiered in the National Theatre’s Cottesloe Studio. Based on his own experiences of gambling addiction, the play is set in the repressive confines of a restaurant basement, with the final act centring around a game of poker. The play was developed in the NT Studio in 1993, starting off as, “a bag of bones”. Artistic Director Sir Richard Eyre sat in at one of his workshops, offering Patrick the chance to direct his piece for The National. It won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play, and cemented his reputation as a serious contender, alongside his hero, Harold Pinter.

“I got on with the cast really well. They were alert to the text, what they needed to say and what they didn’t need to say. I want characters who are burning with intensity, disagreeing. As a writer and Director, I don’t want it to be all ‘white’ in my work. The National Theatre is still my home. When (Sir) Nicholas Hytner came in as Artistic Director, I didn’t feel welcome. You go in and out of fashion. I’m glad Rufus (Norris) likes my work.”

Closer also had its world premiere at the NT in 1997. It is a tale of sexual betrayal, longing and duplicity, seen through the eyes of a quartet of lonely twenty-something star crossed lovers, who cross over allegiances. Closer is unflinching in its often graphic depiction of vice and misogyny, the voyeurism of cyberspace, viciousness of sexual jealousy, and the inner turmoil of one man (Dan) who veers between two women (wife Anna and stripper Alice).

Closer transferred to Broadway, with Patrick developing and directing the production for two and a half years, opening at the Music Box Theatre in January 1999. It was also staged in Paris and Prague; “I put in six different casts. I was exhausted. I never wanted to see another play again! It was very hard to write a play after it. But it was all good really. It was a blessing.

Patrick went on to write the 2004 screen adaptation, directed by Oscar-winner Mike Nichols, and starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. “As Mike said ‘It either has to be a fight, negotiation or seduction. If it’s not, it’s boring.’ Audiences want to be entertained more visually. The fashion at the moment is for effect, but there’s a hunger for new work; it’s a great time for new writers.”

Using semi-autobiographical elements within his narrative, Howard Katz (2001),  the play charts the journey of a middle-aged East End Jewish talent agent, whose life is spiralling out of control with no spiritual direction. Patrick directed, again at The Cottesloe, and played off-Broadway with Alfred Molina in the lead role. Receiving mixed reviews for its depiction of one man’s breakdown and crisis of faith, Patrick has been philosophical about its initial reception; “the press wanted me to write a raunchy play. I wrote the opposite of that, it was about my own mid-life crisis. I like the idea of ambivalence; we should be feeling two things. We don’t live cleanly. We live in a flug.”

For five years from 2007, Patrick struggled with writer’s block, while he had a variety of screenplay commissions to contend with. Patrick’s productivity now sees him write from 9pm until 2am: “After two to three hours, I know where the play’s going. I have to keep writing movies, and other things are just things to keep my hand in until the next play, which is the most important thing to me. I’d rather write less if it’s from the heart.”

Recent work includes The Red Lion (2015), a three-hander, set in the changing rooms of a semi-professional football team, where a gifted player finds himself caught between a bullying manager and a veteran player (Patrick is the Director of Lewes FC in Sussex). After Miss Julie (written twenty years ago) will be touring the Theatre Royal Bath (4-9 July), Richmond Theatre (11-16 July), and Milton Keynes Theatre (18-13 July). Based on Strindberg’s 1888 play, Patrick’s version of the erotic, psychological thriller is set in an English Country House during the eve of the Labour landslide of 1945.

Patrick’s approach to theatre making is simple; “Be ferocious, be unpopular. It’s your play. You’re the host of this party. I would encourage all new playwrights to direct and to learn on the job. The first play I directed was Dealer’s Choice at The National. All writers also need two to three good readers you can trust. Two supporters have been Sir Richard Eyre and (fellow Playwright) Nicholas Wright. My wife (actress Debra Gillett) has read every draft, every line endlessly. But I did dedicate my work to her! There’s a lot of playwrights who write but don’t know where it’s going. That’s okay. We all have conflicting feelings about life.”

Click here for more information about the work of The BISR Guilt Group.

Global Goals: Take Action

On the 28th of April 2016 the London International Development Centre and the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity will host the Global Goals: Take Action conference.

The event will take place in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, on behalf of UCL, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), SOAS, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), and Birkbeck. The conference will address the challenges presented by the post-2015 development agenda.

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development (also known as the SDGs) build on the Millennium Development Goals, which focused on meeting the needs of the world’s poorest in low and middle income countries.

The new Global Goals are universal, so will be applicable to developed, as well as developing countries.

The conference aims to challenge students to think about the impact of the goals and how that might be relevant to them in the future, and guide them towards training and careers.

The event is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students from all disciplines from UCL, LSHTM, SOAS, RVC, and Birkbeck.

The Global Goals are set to run from 2015 to 2030, a time scale which will coincide with a sizable proportion of current students’ careers. The conference will be targeted at students from across all subject areas – to include medicine, public health, engineering, politics, law, pharmacy, veterinary science, anthropology, geography, environmental sciences and development studies, among others.

The day will kick off with a panel debate, then everyone will have the opportunity to get involved in more focused discussions with leading experts in international development around clusters of goals on six desks.

The themes for the desks will be:


The conference will end with a high profile guest who will bring together the day’s ideas towards action for 2030.

The conference is free for all undergraduate and postgraduate students from Birkbeck, UCL, SOAS, LSHTM, and RVC.

You can book a place here.

How much do you know about the goals? Please take our survey.

Let there be light

London is preparing for the 9th Bloomsbury Festival. The event, centred in Russell Square, will run across Camden from the 22nd to the 25th of October, and is expected to host around 50,000 visitors.

Camden Council has awarded a community grant towards the festival, which will promote 100 events throughout the four-day extravaganza. The team, headed by Director Kate Anderson and Festival Co-ordinator Caggy Kerlogue, have planned what they describe as “a creative explosion of performance and heritage events… giant cinema screens you feel you can walk into, a grand night of fire and music, a rainbow of garden squares and hub of festivities around Bloomsbury throughout the long weekend.”

The 2015 festival will be themed around The International Year of Light. IYOL Programme Co-ordinator Toby Shannon describes its cultural significance: “The year aims to celebrate the impact of light on the world we live in and its potential to improve lives. The Bloomsbury Festival provides a unique opportunity to cross disciplinary boundaries. The theme of light will be explored through art, music, theatre, science, technology, poetry, history, and through stimulating collaborations to explore light in all its uses, appearances and moods. The Festival offers a rich environment for the exchange of ideas in London.”

The official launch took place on May 20th, in an event run by Donne Alexander of The Wellcome Trust. Guests were introduced to a UV gallery of light, where artists, academics and scientists learnt more about the rudiments of glo-germ gel (demonstrating how bacteria can survive on skin even after hand-washing) and had a chance to wear a rather fetching pair of SPIE rainbow glasses.

Mark De Rivaz, Steward of Bedford Estates, explains how the event has evolved: “The Bedford Estates has been a partner of the Festival since 2010. We will provide The Bedford Square Garden, free of charge with the provision of a marquee. The Duchess of Bedford is the Festival’s patron and she has been involved with judging the art competition in July for the branding and imagery of the 2015 Festival (which was won by designer Andrew Long of Central St Martin’s).”

UK Age Concern Camden and UCL have worked with Dr Michael Eades of The School of Advanced Studies since 2013 to create Festival in a Box, allowing local people with dementia to interact with proceedings from home, using sensory aids. Eades explained: “It will offer those living with dementia an opportunity to share their knowledge and stories of the area, providing insight into Bloomsbury and surrounding areas of London. The outreach programme will not only be an opportunity for them to actively re-engage with community life, but also to participate in re-narrating the history of Bloomsbury itself. These boxes will become miniature ‘archives of engagement’.”

Key supporters such as The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are engaging with performance artists to interpret their work. Vicki Bazalgette explains: We are excited to be a Festival Partner for the first time this year. Our activities will allow our researchers and members of the public to delve into discussions about health in creative ways.  School researcher Dr Catherine Carver is collaborating with The Place and choreographer Subathra Subramaniam on a new piece of contemporary dance inspired by light in medicine and health, which will be performed by the youth dance group Shuffle. We will be hosting a ‘Living Library’ towards the beginning of the Festival – an event where our staff are cast in the role of living books, and you can come to ‘read’ them and take part in discussions about health around the world. Our family event will take place on the Sunday, where people can find out how clean our hands really are in our UV activities tent.”

Katy Jackson of The Weiner Library has opened the Library’s Holocaust archives to local residents. “Our first event for the Festival took place in October 2012 when we opened up our doors and offered behind-the-scenes tours of our exhibition Remembering Raoul Wallenberg and Lives Saved, which will form the basis of our travelling exhibition for 2015. We took part again in 2013 at the main site in Bedford Square. Partnering for the 2015 event was a natural development for us after taking part in previous festivals. We’re delighted to be involved.”

James Wilson of The Swedenborg Society is keen to introduce international artists: “We first participated in the Bloomsbury Festival in 2010. That year was our bicentenary year and we decided to tie our participation in the festival to a performance and exhibition from our two artists in residences, Paul Tecklenberg and Nissa Nishikawa. This year, we’ll be doing a literary panel discussion with our new president, Homero Aridjis, one of Mexico’s most celebrated poets and authors, who will be discussing his new poetry anthology An Angel Speaks. We hope that by participating, Bloomsbury Festivalgoers and Swedenborg Society members become aware of each other’s work and events programme (including exhibitions, performances, talks, readings, and film screenings, which are open to all and free of charge).”

Music has an integral part to play within the local community, bringing different faiths and backgrounds together.Katie Price, Head of Communications at SOAS, discusses the busy timetable of events planned within the festival programme. “Throughout the year people come from across London to our free world music concert series, our lectures and our wonderful Brunei Gallery. The Bloomsbury Festival enables us to reach a completely different audience through the World Music stage that we have organised each year since 2010. It brought new audiences to the Brunei Gallery (for example, in 2011, 400 new people came to a Bloomsbury Festival event there). This year the Head of our Department for the Study of Religions is working with a chaplain from Goodenough College to explore light in religion, reflecting the Festival’s 2015 theme of light. The 2016 Festival theme will be language – a perfect opportunity for us to showcase our language research (we teach more than forty languages, from Igbo to Urdu to Japanese and Chinese) and celebrate our centenary.”

Artist Simon O’Donovan is working on light exhibitions at The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras: “My work primarily focuses on representations of sight and blindness in mythology, theology, science and culture. I work with biography and the invention/ fabrication of memory. Is the shadow cast a reality? How is truth manipulated through time and not a necessary condition for sight? The proposed work is realised as a series of belongings and objects. It charts a period of time in the life of E.B. Ames, a nineteenth century gold prospector, a murderer, a rebel against the light.”

Dr Matthew Beaumont of UCL presents literary talks on London history. “I have given talks to the festival over the last two years. I will be providing a lecture on ‘night walking’. I published a book on the subject this year called Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London from Chaucer to Dickens, about the history of people who walk the streets of the city at night from the 13th to the 19th century. My previous talk in 2014 was a collaborative set of talks organised by Florian Mussgnug called London’s Burning on apocalyptic visions of the city. The festival is a good way of encouraging more diverse and transdisciplinary intellectual interests amongst the student community.”

Andrew Youngson of Birkbeck College remarks, “Birkbeck came on board with the festival from 2012, showcasing literary events at Senate House. This brought together academics and authors who compared their personal and professional history of Bloomsbury including Birkbeck’s Professor Sir Phil Cohen, author Iain Sinclair and UCL’s Professor Rosemary Ashton. The Bloomsbury Festival is a great platform for academics, writers and philosophers to share ideas and inspire new audiences.”

Artist Geoff Harrison has been hugely impressed by the rich diversity of the festival: “In 2010, I undertook an art commission to produce a series of drawings that were displayed in the Chapel of Rest in St Georges Gardens. For 2011, I curated an exhibition at the Orange Dot Gallery on Tavistock Place and for the 2012 and 2013 festivals, I produced a public participation event called the People’s Portrait Project, which got together a group of artists in a tent to draw free portraits of festival goers. I love the fact that the festival has always been free; the atmosphere around Russell Square is electric and there’s lots of fun and exciting things to do for the weekend.”

The final word goes to Stuart Reeves, Digital Media Producer of The Science Museum: “The openness to interpretation of the festival is exciting, conjuring up so many differing perceptions. The IYOL will give those attending a clear understanding of the importance of Light Science, vital for existing and future advances in medicine, energy, information and communications, fibre optics, architecture, archaeology, entertainment, art and culture. What a wonderful way to bring everyone together!”

For details on how to donate, volunteer or support The Bloomsbury Festival, visit

Clerkenwell Design Week Returns for a Successful Sixth Installment

Several thousand designers and design enthusiasts descended on Clerkenwell last week for the sixth installment of Clerkenwell Design Week. Founded to showcase Clerkenwell’s burgeoning status as an international design hub, CDW provides an opportunity to look around the largest concentration of design showrooms in the world, and to hobnob with the world’s foremost architects and interior designers.

Larger in scale than previous design weeks, this year included over 80 showrooms, as well as the shared exhibition spaces in the Design Factory and the public installations CDW is famous for.

Highlights included Glaze, a multi-coloured glass pavilion installed on St John’s Square, the opening of Old Sessions House to the public by Icon Magazine, the Shed and five storey old warehouse at the Design Factory used for exhibits, and Buzzispace’s new outdoor work space the Buzzished.

The Shed in the Design Factory. Photo © Sophie Mutevelian, and used with kind permission
The Shed in the Design Factory. Photo © Sophie Mutevelian, and used with kind permission
Glaze public pavilion on St John's Square, created by architects Cousins & Cousins and glaziers GxGlass
Glaze public pavilion on St John’s Square, created by architects Cousins & Cousins and glaziers GxGlass

One installation of particular note was the wooden Invisible Store of Happiness installation underneath St John’s Arch, created by sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon and furniture maker Sebastian Cox.

The Invisible Store of Happiness by Laura Ellen Bacon and Sebastian Cox
The Invisible Store of Happiness by Laura Ellen Bacon and Sebastian Cox

Named after the invisible store of happiness a craftsman leaves in each piece of work they produce, the installation had an additional function as an example of diversifying the range of timber used by furniture makers, so that an overemphasis is not made on a select few species. In this case, Laura and Sebastian used maple and cherry as an alternative to a current trend for white oak and walnut.

A deeper exploration of the Clerkenwell shows a unique emphasis on materials, with organisations such as the SCIN Gallery holding one of the only material libraries in Britain, this shared emphasis is part of the explanation for the exponential growth in design firms moving to the area. The other explanation is the unique relationship between architects and interior designers that has encouraged firms to cluster around each other.

A simple walk along Clerkenwell Road through to Old Street will reveal dozens of showrooms all in close proximity to one another, and it is not just Clerkenwell Design Week that will enable you to poke around a bit deeper.

Clerkenwell Design Quarter is another popular event in designers diaries as an official destination within the London Design Festival this September. And Craft Central, an unique charity-supported building in Clerkenwell Green that provides studio and workshop space to artisan design-makers, regularly opens its doors to the public. Here you can find hand-crafted jewellery, gold, silver and copper engravings, ceramics and fashion, and take away something truly unique.

Icon's House of Culture, in the Old Sessions House. Photo © Sophie Mutevelian
Icon’s House of Culture, in the Old Sessions House. Photo © Sophie Mutevelian

The energy in Clerkenwell can be summarised by several out of town designers who were overheard saying ‘we just have to move here’. With space still relatively cheap and designers desperate to get in on the Clerkenwell design scene, Clerkenwell looks set to grow even further as a design hub, and CDW 2016 will definitely be design event of the year for architects, interior designers, and anyone with an enthusiasm for design in the UK and beyond.