Something Fierce adds bite to exhibition at Royal Academy

  • Date

    Thu 23 Feb 17

Our brutalist architecture is being celebrated in a new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Futures Found explores the contrasts between the ambitious visions for Britain’s new post-war cityscapes and the varied futures that were then created.

The University of Essex’s Colchester Campus is one of six case studies, proposed by guest curators including Professor Jules Lubbock and Art Exchange director Jess Twyman - who created our hugely successful 50th anniversary exhibition Something Fierce.

Professor Lubbock, Emeritus Professor of Art History at Essex, said: “I am delighted the magnificent original Sixties campus of the University of Essex is being showcased in this major international exhibition.

“The Royal Academy show covers both the downstairs and the upstairs sections of the original Something Fierce exhibition. Both the pamphlets we prepared for that show are also included in the display which visitors will be able to look through.

“The exhibition is about the fortunes and subsequent history of a group of six post-war archiecture projects, some famous others less so. What happened to them? How have they been regarded? What has been their critical fortunes?”

Professor Lubbock points out the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus is a prime example of how Brutalist architecture fell out of favour “almost immediately after the University’s buildings were completed”.

He points out the reputation of Essex’s architecture has “risen sharply” thanks to the revival of interest in Brutalism. He emphasises this has been helped by the support of Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and the commissioning of the Something Fierce exhibition.

Professor Lubbock has enjoyed his role as guest curator: “My role has been to suggest a story, to locate and supply the material - all of which is two dimensional or video, to write the introduction and captions for the section and to act as a consultant on the show.

“Thankfully the RA has done all the hard work and Jess Twyman at Art Exchange and her assistant Emma Berry have played a major role in shaping the mini-show and supplying material.”

The different case studies in the Futures Found display will present the parallel and often conflicting narratives that have developed around a selection of post-war projects since their creation. The display includes references and material drawn from film, music, literature and art, as well as the lived experiences of residents and social activism. Together they will challenge the perceived sense of failure of these projects and instead will show a much wider and more nuanced view of what this architecture created and inspired.