UnLOCKed: Among the Trees / Electronic

A real, live, indoor review! Sadly not of theatre but of the next best thing: two exhibitions which have recently opened in London after a lockdown delay.

Among the Trees / Electronic

First, let’s have a look at the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre. The only part of the estate to reopen this month, it os currently staging Among the Trees, which as you may expect features art depicting trees as either the main focus, or as peripheral to something else.

You can expect to see paintings, video installations, mixed media, sculpture, drawings, and more as you move through five galleries. We went to a Southbank Centre member preview, so it may have been quieter than usual, but it felt comfortable and friendly within the space.

From a safety perspective the experience is managed well: face coverings are obligatory, hand sanitiser is provided, a one-way system is in operation, toilets are open just off the foyer, and ticket checks are fairly painless.

The exhibits are well curated, mixing the outdoors with politics, repurposed materials, and a sense of time and place. There are no outdoor installations this time as the Hayward terraces are closed.

Among the Trees
Among the Trees

Over in Kensington, the Design Museum is celebrating synthpop, grime, house and club-land in Electronic: from Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers. With a nightclub vibe throughout, bring your own headphones to plug into A/V exhibits, wear your facemask, and keep your distance.

Based on an exhibition developed in Paris, this brings together a DJ playlist, elements of visual and sound design, an overview of the electro scene in Europe, the USA and beyond, and immersive experiences (Kraftwerk’s Catalogue in 3-D, The Chemical Brothers’s Got To Keep On).

The one-way system only went awry on one occasion (as the Kraftwerk film temporarily broke down), but it is well-planned, and some areas allow a restricted number of people at a time. I’d remove seated areas to allow a smoother flow of people and to avoid people being stuck next to each other, but generally, it’s fine.

The exhibits include Jean Michel Jarre’s Imaginary Studio, postcards and album covers, videos on the likes of Daphne Oram (BBC Radiophonic Workshop), items from clubs like Manchester’s Hacienda, costumes and fashion from Loverboy and others, and photographs of packed dance floors which seem from another age.


Both exhibitions can be visited for free, but advance booking is essential.

Among the Trees runs at the Hayward Gallery until 31 October.

Electronic runs at the Design Museum until 14 February 2021.