Behind the scenes of Everyday Heroes

Friday, August 28, 2020 - 11:04

Everyday Heroes, our art and poetry exhibition celebrating frontline staff and key workers, opens next week. For the past few weeks, we’ve been busy installing the portraits and poems on the buildings across Southbank Centre – on the walls and windows of Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and our office buildings. 

Read on to see how our site is being transformed into a free, open-air exhibition. 

Installing Tom (2020) by Lydia Blakeley, on the windows of the Southbank Centre, overlooking Mandela Walkway. Photo: Cedar Lewisohn

The two shop assistants – both called Tom – painted by Lydia Blakeley for Everyday Heroes work in the shop next door to her studio. ‘I am someone who was in the fortunate position to be able to stay at home for the whole of lockdown’, says the artist. ‘I am so extremely grateful for the people who kept this country running’. 


Installing Dr A Shahid (2020) by Mahtab Hussain, on the side of Royal Festival Hall. Photo: Cedar Lewisohn.

Mahtab Hussain has made two portraits for the exhibition. This one, printed at over five metres high and displayed on the side of Royal Festival Hall, features Dr A Shahid, a dermatologist who continued to work throughout the crisis, while heavily pregnant. Dr Shahid’s infant son Ember also features in the photograph. 


Installing The Grocers (2020) by Benjamin Senior on the windows of Royal Festival Hall, overlooking Riverside Terrace. Photo: Cedar Lewisohn.

Painter Benjamin Senior based this scene on his local market in Croydon, south London. Senior has said ‘Grocery shopping took on a particular urgency early in the lockdown, when supplies were scarce, and the marketplace has been a focal point of our lives since.’ 


Matthew Krishanu, Hospital Chaplain – PPE (Rehanah Sadiq) (2020). Photo: Matthew Krishanu.

The group of portraits that Matthew Krishanu has produced for Everyday Heroes focuses on four female religious workers who, along with other religious workers across the country, continued to find ways to serve their community throughout the crisis. In this image Rehanah Sadiq, a Muslim chaplain for two Birmingham NHS hospital trusts, can be seen in full PPE, looking out over Southbank Centre’s Market Square.


Everyday Heroes is open September – November. 

Visit the Southbank Centre site to see these artworks, alongside other artworks and poems by 21 leading artists and poets.

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As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. Though Hayward Gallery may now be reopening, our auditoriums remain closed. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.

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