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Make! The New Brutal – a Barbican Shop season of creative workshops and events inspired by Brutalist architecture

Image of Barbican Brutalist Architecture by Nicholas Triantafyllou

Barbican Shop today announces its spring 2019 season of workshops and events. Inspired by the architecture of the Barbican itself, Make! The New Brutal (9 Feb to 18 May 2019) will explore how the Brutalist movement has influenced everyday life in more ways than we realise, and how it has reinvented itself today. Through a series of talks, creative events and workshops, the season will discover how contemporary makers, designers and authors have all been shaped by Brutalist architecture, and will celebrate its recent revival.

Curated by the Barbican’s retail team, highlights of the season include a course on sculptural ceramics with Matthew Raw, workshops on vase casting and lino printing, a series of book clubs on the novels of J.G. Ballard, and photography and walking tours looking at the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican and the surrounding area.   

The Barbican is a leading international arts and learning centre, and much of the season will take place within the Barbican Shop on Level G of the centre. Designed by RIBA Stirling Prize-winning practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the 330 square metre shop is spread over two floors, providing room for events and programming that see the shop become an extension of the Barbican’s foyer spaces and a destination in its own right.

Jo Davis, Head of Retail at the Barbican, said: 'It’s hard to escape the Brutalist influence at the Barbican. It is interesting how Brutalism has evolved over the years – from being unpopular and besmirched, to achieving a cult-like status today.  Our new season of workshops and events celebrates everything brutal and explores how the ‘Brutalist aesthetic’ has permeated our everyday lives and the world of crafts and making, influencing designers and creatives alike.  This season promises to inspire, with photography workshops, a sculptural ceramics course and book clubs allowing you to immerse yourself in a world of brutal beauty.'

Programme information:

The programme for Make! The New Brutal can be  with tickets available from 28 November for Barbican Members and from 30 November for the general public via www.barbican.org.uk/newbrutal.

Brutal Textures: Sculptural Ceramic Course with Matthew Raw, £300

Saturday Group

Session 1 – Barbican Shop – Sat 2 Mar 11am–2pm            

Session 2 – Barbican Shop – Sat 9 Mar 11am–2pm            

Session 3 – Barbican Shop – Sat 16 Mar 11am–2pm         

Session 4 – Matthew Raw’s studio in Hoxton – Sat 30 Mar 11am to 2pm

Drinks Reception and private view - Barbican Shop – Wed 8 May, 6-9pm (London Craft Week event)

Sunday Group

Session 1 – Barbican Shop – Sun 3 Mar, 11am–2pm         

Session 2 – Barbican Shop – Sun 10 Mar, 11am–2pm       

Session 3 – Barbican Shop – Sun 17 Mar, 11am–2pm       

Session 4 – Matthew Raw’s studio in Hoxton – Sun 31 Mar, 11am to 2pm

Drinks Reception and private view - Barbican Shop – Wed 8 May, 6-9pm (London Craft Week event)

This unique course of workshops led by artist Matthew Raw (former artist-in-residence at the V&A Ceramics Collection and co-creator of 'Clay Station' at Seven Sisters Station) will allow participants to interpret architectural features of the Barbican through the medium of clay. 

The course will begin with a guided Barbican Architecture tour, introducing brutal and subtle textures that will inspire the creation of a set of experimental clay test tiles. These will then inform a larger-scale sculpture made up of hand-rolled 'slabs' of clay, created during an ongoing series of workshops at the Barbican Shop, and also at Matthew Raw’s studio in Hoxton in east London. Participants will take their work through the complete ceramic process and leave with a finished sculpture. The course will culminate with the opportunity for participants to exhibit their finished works in an evening drinks reception in the Barbican Shop on Wednesday 8 May, as part of London Craft Week.

For the duration of the course, a space in the Barbican Shop will also be transformed into a temporary workspace where the evolution of the pieces can be seen.

Brutal Shapes: Vase Casting Workshops with Phil Cuttance (9 Feb–12 May) Barbican Shop, £45

Participants will learn how to cast a Brutalist inspired bud vase from Jesmonite Stone with designer/maker Phil Cuttance. They will choose from six different vase shapes, assemble their mould, and then mix and cast their own vase in a unique colour scheme with marbled effects.

Once cast, vases will be taken back to Phil's studio where they take 24 hours to set, and can then be sent back to participants or collected from the Barbican Shop.

Brutal Impressions: Lino Printing Workshop with Jamie Temple (16 Feb–14 Apr), Barbican Shop, £75

Jamie Temple is an artist and printmaker living and working between London and Glasgow, drawing inspiration from a lifelong fascination with the built and natural environments we inhabit. In these workshops he will demonstrate the art of lino printing, and how to create designs inspired by the forms and textures of Brutalist architecture.

Participants will gain an insight into the linocut printmaking process; from sketching out an idea and transferring designs onto the block of lino, to working with a variety of carving tools, inks and methods of printing on paper, and will create their own unique edition of handmade prints to take home. Jamie will also showcase a selection of his own Brutalist inspired prints and will be on hand throughout to offer individual help and guidance.

Brutal Worlds: Barbican Book Club (25 Feb–29 Apr), Barbican Shop, £8

In recent times, artists, architects and writers have drawn inspiration from the unique qualities of Brutalist architecture, and in this series of book clubs the novels Crash, High Rise and Concrete Island by the author J.G Ballard will be discussed. Each book club will be chaired by Professor Roger Luckhurst, a contributor on science-fiction writings for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking, and Sight & Sound magazine, and he will be accompanied for each event by an expert in the field, including Caroline Edwards, Amy Butt, and Adam Roberts. Copies of the three books from a new printing by 4th Estate will also be available through the Barbican Shop throughout the season at a 15% discount from the £8.99 RRP.

Brutal Structures: Architecture Walking Tour with Chris Rogers (30 Mar–18 May), tours begin at the Barbican Shop, £12

Beginning and ending at the Barbican Shop on Level G of the Barbican Centre, a 90-minute walking tour discovering the City of London’s Brutalist architectural treasures with historian, writer and lecturer Chris Rogers (author of How to Read London – a crash course in London architecture).

Between the City of London’s facetted glass skyscrapers and carved stone palazzos stand buildings from another era executed in a very different material: concrete. They include a robust tower for a Livery Company, a state-of-the-art institutional space in Victorian disguise, a civic plaza that straddles past and future and an insurance market whose new home became an icon.

Barbican Photography Tour with Peter Chadwick (13 Apr–11 May), tours begin at the Barbican Shop, £15

Peter Chadwick is a London-based art director, graphic designer and educator with over 27 years of experience in the music, fashion and arts sectors, and the founder of This Brutal House – a platform to share photography and design work about Brutalism. As part of the season, he will be leading a series of photography tours of the Barbican Centre and Barbican estate, investigating some of the lesser known corners and angles of the complex. Participants will also have the chance to share their images live on the This Brutal House Twitter and Instagram feeds, as well as having them printed and displayed in the Barbican Shop

Brutal Textures: Crafts Week Evening, Wed 8 May, 6–9pm, Barbican Shop, free with RSVP in advance

As part of London Craft Week, a drinks reception and view for the finished sculptures made during Matthew Raw’s Brutal Textures course will take place in the Barbican Shop on the evening of Wednesday 8 May. Attendees will get the opportunity to meet Matthew Raw, as well as being able to take advantage of a 15% discount on all items in the shop over the course of the evening. Entry is via RSVP and places for this special event can be reserved via the season ticketing page on the Barbican website.