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Barbican Cinema presents three seasons and series looking at the City, Colonialism, and Community through the lens of artists

Barbican Cinema kicks off 2024 celebrating artists’ films through contemporary and rarely seen archive works. 

  • Artists In Residence – Mon 22 Jan - Thu 15 Feb 
  • Experiments in Film: A Radical Duet + CLR James 80th Birthday Lectures + Sometimes it was Beautiful Mon 29 Jan 
  • Cinema Restored: St. Clair Bourne’s Cinema of Solidarity – Tue 20 Feb 

Artists In Residence explores artists’ film and archive material to highlight the unstable relationship between London’s space, art-making, and everyday life through four programmes of rarely seen archive film and material and new shorts, plus a panel discussion. The creatively curated programme includes archive documentaries profiling Hackney’s Beck Road Collective; Derek Jarman, an episode of the LWT magazine programme The South of Watford in which the filmmaker and artist traces his artistic development and biography through his occupancy of warehouses across the 1960s and 1970s; plus the Premiere of After Time in which the filmmaker (and co-curator of the season) Therese Henningsen documents the people and places she encountered watching Stanley Schtinter’s The Lock-In, at ten 'real' pubs across London's East End.  

January and February include the bi-monthly series Experiments in Film and Cinema Restored. The year’s first Experiments in Film considers the themes of revolutionary and anti-colonial acts with the newest film by award-winning artist filmmaker Onyeka Igwe, accompanied by a selection of CLR James 80th Birthday Lectures and Sometimes it was Beautiful by Christian Nyampeta; while Cinema Restored in February profiles the work of St Clair Bourne including the UK premiere of MOMA’s new 4K restoration of The Black and the Green


Artists In Residence – London, Art-Making, Space and Everyday Life
Mon 22 Jan Thu 15 Feb 

Spanning 70 years, Artists in Residence presents a moving image chronology of London: from the shifting neighbourhoods and spaces adopted as artists’ studios, to shared living spaces, to pubs; bringing together artist’s responses to the changes in everyday urban landscape with documents of the culture industry’s varying embrace, rejection and struggle under these conditions.   

Matthew Barrington, Barbican Cinema Curator, Matthew Harle, Barbican Public Programme Curator and Therese Henningsen, Artist and Filmmaker say: 

The idea for Artists in Residence was born from research which led us to largely forgotten but fascinating documentaries and television held in national archives. Through archive material and artists’ films we have tried to craft a narrative to see how artists have responded to and effected the space of the city, as well as documentary evidence of the changes to cultural industries over a period spanning 70 years.” 


Housing Pains (12A*)  

Mon 22 Jan, 6:30pm, 103 min 

Cinema 3 

Housing Pains explores how artists live and make livelihoods across four decades. An early Arts Council post-war record Artists Must Live mulls over the challenges of an artistic career in the 1950s; John Smith’s 1977 commission for Thames TV Hackney Marshes meets the residents of a new tower block over a single day; the BBC Community Programme Unit profile the group of artists living in Beck Road in Artists in Residence as they struggle to save their homes against rising property prices; and in Block, Emily Richardson returns to high-rise living in 2005, encountering the everyday incidences of a tower block over several months. 

Artists Must Live 

Arts Council, 1953, Dir John Read, 29 min 

A survey of what it meant to live and work as an artist in 1950, covering a wide range of practitioners, the film provides a multitude of ways artists found to remain sustainable whilst developing their practice. 

Hackney Marshes  

Thames TV, 1977, Dir John Smith, 32 min 

The celebrated artist John Smith creates an improvised portrait of the residents of a new Hackney Marsh tower block, shot over the course of a single day.

Artists In Residence 

BBC Community Programme Unit, 1988, 30 min 

'If you want a comfortable, secure life, being an artist has to be one of the worst ways of going about it’, so says artist Philip Stanley in this documentary focusing on the Beck Road collective, as the street in Hackney which they rescued from dereliction, is to be sold.


2005, Dir Emily Richardson, 12 min 

Made by British filmmaker Emily Richardson on 16mm Block is a round-the-clock portrait, shot over a duration of ten months, of a 1960s tower block in south east London. 


Trading Places (12A*)  

Thu 1 Feb, 6:30pm, 102 min 

Cinema 3 

Trading Places captures different perspectives on the relationship between London’s landscape, creativity and capital. Mary Dickinson’s Old Kent Road, produced for the BBC’s Arena series, encounters the characters working on one of London’s historic trade routes into the City, and with it, the embers of old Bermondsey. Mary Sackville-West’s The New Eastenders charts the land grab of Shoreditch, following clusters of YBAs, gallerists and estate agents as they go on property sprees – featuring Tracey Emin, Victoria Miro, The Lux Centre, Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Ayo Akingbade’s Deadphant offers a brief portrait of Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre a weekend before it was permanently closed in September 2020 and demolished for redevelopment.  

Old Kent Road 

BBC Arena, 1985, Dir Mary Dickinson, 59 min 

Shot by Mary Dickinson for the BBC Arena series, Old Kent Road offers a portrayal of a bygone era, showcasing the eccentric characters and unique establishments of South London. 

The New Eastenders, The Artists 

BBC, 2001, Dir Mary Sackville-West, 40 min 

The 2001 BBC docu-soap series The New Eastenders, episode The Artists traces the comings and goings in the emerging east end art scene. 


2020, Dir Ayo Akingbade, 3 min 

A 16mm portrait of the iconic Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. 


Work, Play and Protest (12A*) + a conversation with Anna Minton (writer and journalist), Andrew Harris (Associate Professor in Geography and Urban Studies at UCL, and Morgan Quaintance (filmmaker) 

Thu 8 Feb, 6.15pm, 135 min 

Cinema 3 

Work, Play and Protest, looks at the relationship between artists and the city at different points in time and across a variety of distinct moving image approaches.  

In the 1984 LWT series The South of Watford, episode Derek Jarman the artist and filmmaker takes a boat across the Thames to trace his artistic development and biography through his occupancy of warehouses across the 1960s and 1970s. In Two Melons and a Stinking Fish, Vanessa Engle’s profile of Sarah Lucas, at the height of her fame in the mid 1990s, captures the moment of the YBAs across openings at the ICA and the White Cube. Artist Niki Kohandel’s then love is the name captures the preparation for the 2020 degree show at the Slade School of Art, interspersed with anti-racist occupations of the building from the following year. 

Derek Jarman, The South of Watford,  

LWT, 1984, Dir John Scarlett-Davis, 26 min 

The special episode of the television magazine, The South of Watford, features Derek Jarman guiding the viewer over his personal connections to London, and the largely destroyed warehouses, which played a key role in his artistic development. 

Two Melons and a Stinking Fish  

Illuminations/BBC, 1996, Dir Vanessa Engle, 48 min 

An exploration of the work of Young British Artist and installation sculptor, Sarah Lucas. 

then love is the name,  

2022, Dir Niki Kohandel, 8 mins 

then love is the name is a contemplation on education and a tribute to the connections forged among students within, and in defiance of, their educational institution. Seamlessly intertwining scenes from the 2021 anti-racist occupation of the Slade School of Fine Art with moments from the installation of the art school’s class of 2020 degree show, the film reveals the academy as a locus of both accomplishment and discontent. 


Public House Portraits (12A*)  

Thu 15 Feb, 6.30pm, 80 min 

Cinema 3 

The final programme in the season, Public House Portraits, explores how public houses are used in the changing landscape of East London from the sixties until today. Peter Davis’ short documentary Pub, filmed at the Approach Tavern in Bethnal Green for Swedish TV, aims to illustrate a typical working-class British pub. The Last Pub by Donna Travis portrays the Anchor and Hope in Clapton, twenty years before it appears in the last film in the programme, After Time, in which the filmmaker Therese Henningsen documents the people and places she encountered watching Stanley Schtinter’s The Lock-In, at ten 'real' pubs across London's East End.  


Sveriges Television (SVT), 1962, Dir Peter Davis, 14 min  

One of three London sketches directed by Peter Davis, Pub was filmed at the Approach Tavern on Approach Road, leading up to Victoria Park in East London. It was made for Swedish television to give an impression of a typical working-class British pub. 

The Last Pub 

2001, Dir Donna Travis, 22 min 

Film about the Anchor and Hope pub, its landlord Leslie Heath, and its customers. 

After Time (Premiere) 

2023, Dir Therese Henningsen, 34 min  

Throughout June 2022 The Lock-In, Stanley Schtinter's 96 hour edit of all the scenes shot inside BBC soap opera EastEnders' Queen Vic pub (1985-1995), played on the television screens of ten 'real' pubs across London's East End. Filmed only on the occasion of these screenings, After Time documents the people and pubs that survive in East London today. 


Experiments in Film 

A Radical Duet (15*) + The CLR James Lectures + Sometimes it was Beautiful plus ScreenTalk 

Mon 29 Jan, 6.30pm 

Cinema 2 

Experiments in Film presents the newest film by award winning artist filmmaker Onyeka Igwe accompanied by a The CLR James Lectures and Sometimes it was Beautiful by artist Christian Nyampeta, which expand upon the themes of revolutionary and anti-colonial acts. 

A Radical Duet 

UK 2023, Dir Onyeka Igwe, 28min 

A Radical Duet recounts a coming together of two women from different generations fighting against colonialism in the 1940s to put their fervour and imagination into writing a revolutionary play.  

The CLR James Lectures 
1983, 27min 

Courtesy of The June Givanni PanAfrican Cinema Archive, this recording of CLR James delivering a lecture on the African independence movement, filmed at the Africa Centre. 

Sometimes it was Beautiful 
2018, Dir Christian Nyampeta, 37min 

Sometimes it was Beautiful explores an unconventional circle of friends reviewing films crafted by Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist in the Congo from 1948 to 1952. The discussions underscore ongoing debates about social transformation, cultural ownership, and the right to representation. 

Organised in collaboration with Film London and FLAMIN 


Cinema Restored  

St. Clair Bourne’s Cinema of Solidarity (15*) + Q&A 

Tue 20 Feb, 6.15pm  
Cinema 3 

This Cinema Restored programme features the UK premiere of MOMA’s 4K restoration of The Black and the Green, St Clair Bourne’s fascinating documentary that traces a group of Black Civil Rights activists, who travel to Northern Ireland during the Troubles, to explore the parallels between their experiences of racial discrimination in the US, and of Irish Catholic life under the British authorities. 

With Statues Hardly Every Smile and Something To Build On, they together provide a vital perspective of African American communities between the mid 1960s to the early 1990s, a period taking in the end of the Civil Rights movement and transition to the Black Power movement, and this movement’s own rise and fall.  

The programme demonstrates Bourne’s nuanced storytelling approach and belief in developing documentaries capable of giving spaces to layered, multi-faceted perspectives on deeply important issues. 

Statues Hardly Ever Smile 

1983, Dir Stan Lathan, 21min 

Edited by Bourne, this film captures an initiative at the Brooklyn Museum, which sees a group of inner-city children devise a dance piece in response to the Museum’s collection, the resulting film is a poetic examination of the relationship between a museum, and its place in the surrounding community. 

Something To Build On 

1971, Dir St. Clair Bourne, 30min, 16mm 

In this short, Bourne puts together a multi-layered reflection on the role that college should play in the Black community. Bringing many contrasting perspectives, the film hears from the experiences of many young people from many different institutions, to capture the shortcomings of both the education system, and its alternatives, in shaping young Black minds. 

The Black and the Green 

1971, Dir St. Clair Bourne, 44 min 

St Clair Bourne’s fascinating documentary tracing a group of Black Civil Rights activists, who travel to Northern Ireland during the Troubles, to explore the parallels between their experiences of racial discrimination in the US, and of Irish Catholic life under the British authorities.