The Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre celebrated its’ reopening, earlier this year, with a fabulous exhibition of photograph by Andreas Gursky.
I made it across there on the last day of the exhibition, having failed, due to illness, to make the opening night.
If you don’t know Andreas Gursky’s work, click across for a brief bio and some examples of his photography at the Tate Modern. However, to really appreciate his photography, I do think you need to see it in a gallery or exhibition because the online images convey neither the vast scale of his work – many three metres or more in height and/or width – nor the perspective achieved through scale and positioning within both photo and framing. For instance, in The Rhine II, image below, the scale of the work allowed the spectator to feel they stood on the Bank alongside the flowing river – quite a startling sensation and most unexpected.
Sadly, it is too late now to see this remarkable exhibition at the Hayward but not too late for me to recommend the newly refreshed exhibition space to wheelchair users for future visits.
Like most of the Southbank complex, the Hayward is completely accessible to wheelchair users. Level entry and floor space, lift access to both mezzanine and upper levels of the Gallery. There are supposedly accessible toilets – I’ve never used them – and even the book shop was wheelie-comfortable.
I will say that, as with the Queen Elizabeth Hall, it didn’t look notably different to the naked eye after the years of closure, even down to the huge ramp that you can see to the bottom left in the last image below (now considered too steep for safe wheelchair access, though you can wheel it at your own risk rather than using the lift to/from the mezzanine. I didn’t but, looking at it, I think I’d have been fine to go up/down it even in my power chair).
I’m sure a lot of the refurbishment was about wear, tear and tech rather than wanting to change the iconic brutalist architecture of the place which I would’ve been sad to see go.
My only other caveat in visiting the Southbank complex is with the parking and potholes as, with the years of building works, the roads are in poor condition and the Hayward car park remains closed.
D dropped me off at the Festival Hall and I rolled to the Hayward on the pavements and terraces whilst he parked in the blue badge spaces at the National Theatre. On leaving, I rolled across to the National with him to get back to the car.
The pavement and terrace rolling is all fine but you need to allow the time for it and, in bad weather, it sucks as there is no cover. A power wheelchair and rain are not a happy combination. But, minor quibbles … no one likes getting wet, right?
As a wheelie venue, it works for me. Enjoy.