Various artists: A Room for London

View or listen to thirty-six works created aboard A Room for London on this website

Adonis, Naomi Alderman, Amadou & Mariam, Laurie Anderson, Fiona Banner, Andrew Bird, James Bridle, David Byrne, Natalie Clein, Jarvis Cocker, Teju Cole, Jeremy Deller and Chuck, Geoff Dyer, Tim Etchells, Charlie Fink, Heiner Goebbels, Imogen Heap, Roni Horn, Maya Jasanoff, Sven Lindqvist, Baaba Maal, Alain Mabanckou, Michael Ondaatje, Josh T Pearson, Caryl Phillips, Johny Pitts, Kamila Shamsie, Ahdaf Soueif, Stornoway, Colm Toibin, tUnE-yArDs, Luc Tuymans, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Jeanette Winterson

During 2012, Artangel invited 38 writers, musicians and artists from across the globe to compose, perform or imagine new work in A Room for London, a one-bedroom Heart of Darkness-influenced installation perched on a roof high above the River Thames.

All but two of these works are freely available online and can be downloaded, streamed or viewed on this Artangel website. For links see the following pages:

– A London Address writers’ podcasts are here
– Sounds from a Room musicians’ videos are here
– Hearts of Darkness artists’ projects are here

The installation at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, built by Living Architecture and designed by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with the artist Fiona Banner, became a peaceful space to think and reflect amidst the flow of traffic and busyness below. The view stretched from St Paul's Cathedral to Big Ben. There was a deck, a crow's nest and a small octagonal library, containing a selection of books written about or inspired by London, with a desk looking out over the river to Somerset House, the Savoy and other iconic landmarks.

The boat's design was an homage to the Roi des Belges, the vessel sailed by Joseph Conrad up the River Congo in the late nineteenth century; a journey that went on to provide the setting for his most famous work Heart of Darkness. Each month in 2012, a different writer such as Jeanette Winterson, Michael Ondaatje and Colm Toibin checked into the Room and spent several days composing a new work to be read aloud for a podcast recording. Called A London Address, the works ranged from a reflection on rivers to memories of childhood times in London to the importance of Heart of Darkness to a cosmopolitan metropolis like London in the 21st century. A collection of these essays has now been published by Granta Books – see this page for details.

Sounds from a Room was a monthly series of live web streamed gigs that took place in the main living area of the boat. Followers of the musicians that included Laurie Anderson, Amadou & Mariam and Jarvis Cocker tuned in from all over the world – from the US and Mexico to Japan and South Korea, even Qatar and Macau. And at different moments through the year, under the banner Hearts of Darkness, various artists were invited to spend time in the space with the simple instruction that they should use it as an opportunity to imagine something new to share - in an echo of the golden age of nautical broadcasting - by way of the digital space.

Ideas for London was a competition, in association with the Evening Standard, looking to discover Londoners’ most remarkable ideas to make their city a better place. By proposing ideas, twelve citizens of the capital each won a night in A Room for London. A number of creative and influential people then came on board to nurture the ideas, one to one and over dinner, before the winner ‘slept on it’.

A Room for London was a collaboration between Living Architecture and Artangel in association with Southbank Centre and the London 2012 Festival, with the generous support of the Artangel International Circle, the Special Angels and the Company of Angels.

Funders and Collaborators
Living Architecture Arts Council England Southbank Centre