The Agency: Southbank


Responding to an itch to get out into the world and brush shoulders with it Deanna and I decided it would be a most excellent idea to get to the Southbank Centre to the ‘Catching Dreams’ exhibition and the Tate Modern and see what the experience had on the Agents.

We met at Providence at 10 and were son on the 77 cutting through the city and along the Albert embankment to arrive in Waterloo. We had a quick stop by the London Eye where I put on my tour guiding suit and gave everyone some quick facts about the Millennium wheel.

After hustling along the river, and occasionally stopping to get drawn in by the gravity of street performers until they lost our attention, we stopped again by skate park on the Southbank to discuss the campaign to save it and a little bit about the Festival of Britain and the changing face of the area. Then we b-lined for the Spirit Level and into the incredible ‘Catching Dreams’ exhibition put on by the Southbank Centre and The Koestler Trust.

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Is was there that we met Sharon, a super inspirational human who immediately engaged all the Agents and had them in a circle explaining to her what was important enough about the Agency to have them up and out on a Saturday morning. It was clearly something important to her. She explained to the Agents what the exhibition was about, showcasing the work of prisoners, people from secure units and people with mental health problems, and in turn when they had all gone round she asked them what they thought about it and what was important about it. It was wonderful to witness the Agents explain which pieces they liked. Zack was particularly taken with a particularly piece involving a series clocks, which they explained as expressing a desire to turn back time, as well as the time served, the time to regret and the time to try and move on.

During this time we were joined by Chrissie who listened eagerly. We then went outside for lunch and everyone went there separate ways to get eats and treats and receipts on the back of napkins. Deanna is now a vegetarian.

After lunch we headed towards the Tate. On the way Mohammed demonstrated his incredible confidence by doing dares and convincing people to Tango with him. It was actually quite impressive. We went into the Tate and Deanna gave all the Agents a brief of things to think about as they went round the exhibition and encouraged everyone to use Whatsapp to communicate things they liked or found challenging. Or just wanted to share. This led to a phones on permabrate as the photos came through and Deanna responded with more questions. ‘How could you improve the form?’ ‘How does that challenge gender roles?’ They questions kept coming until we reconvened in the Turbine Hall for a debrief.

It seemed like everyone had an eye-opening day and were brimming with new experiences. But one thing in particular struck me and it was prompted by a question Roisin asked about how it felt to be here compared to in the territory. And that was that it felt different. They all felt like they could behave differently because there were so many people here from all around the world. And there was something quite special about that.

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