Anyone who has walked from Waterloo station to the South Bank Centre will have encountered the kind of street scenery that Peter Kennard has re-created indoors at the Royal Festival Hall. This is less a case of art imitating life, than of art evaluating life. For Kennard's hard-hitting installation 'Welcome to Britain' is a 15-metre edifice of our time made from scavenged urban flotsam: wooden pallets, card, corrugated metal - the bricks and mortar of the homeless.

As a grim depiction of the metropolis that will greet Europeans emerging from London's cross-Channel terminal, it represents the carcass of urban decay - the fright at the end of the tunnel if you like. Images of forlorn faces, street signs and groping, grasping hands printed all over the structure suggest that it is not only in transport terms that Waterloo represents the end-of-the-road. Best known for his sharp, political photomontages (right), Kennard has moved into installation work, because he says 'there aren't enough outlets for poster-style photomontage because of the current lack of organised political protest. If people aren't in the mood for campaigning, you need something that affects them not just intellectually, but on a deeper gut level. With installation work the sheer physical impact of materials can lure people out of their torpor.'

On 11 and 12 June (10.30am-12.30pm, 2.30-4.30pm), Kennard and his collaborator, the poet Peter Reading, will be staging a performance and discussion around the work. Says Kennard, 'The idea is to break up pieces of the work to symbolise what's happening to the people it represents'.

Welcome to Britain, Royal Festival Hall, Level 2, South Bank, SE1 (071-928 8800) 11 June-10 July

(Photograph omitted)

Comments