The Show Must Go Online: animating Arts at University of Southampton in the digital sphere

hrm199 (Siobhan Coen and Haroon Mirza), Dreamachine 2.0, 2019. Courtesy hrm199. Photo: Thierry Bal

During these challenging times and faced with the new normal, Arts at University of Southampton is joining our friends at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, in pledging that The Show Must Go On(line). 

John Hansard Gallery and Turner Sims are both exploring ways to focus their energies within the digital sphere, seeking to animate online spaces to bring you inspiring art and culture. Alongside this, Arts at University of Southampton’s digital channels will be dedicated to sharing with you the best of the arts to be accessed remotely. We’ll also be inviting the talented creatives and artists in our own team to contribute ideas and showcase their practice.

Many large organisations in the cultural sector have already announced programmes suitable for these times of isolation and lockdown. Most notable in the UK is the partnership between the BBC and Arts Council England who are pledging to bring us Culture in Quarantine, a virtual festival designed to keep the arts alive in our homes during this unprecedented period.

Our own cultural institutions here at the University have also been quick off the mark in bringing digital content to audiences. On Sunday 29 March, Turner Sims celebrated International Piano Day and streamed a family-friendly concert, The Inside Out Piano by Sarah Nicolls. Sarah’s dynamic performance – with the piano being strummed like a guitar, singing like a whale and even swinging in mid-air – is suitable for ages 5+ and can be streamed from the Turner Sims website until Sunday 4 April.

Similarly, John Hansard Gallery want to spotlight the work of Haroon Mirza, who showed with the Gallery earlier this year in a major solo exhibition, Waves and Forms, highlighting Mirza’s ongoing exploration of waveforms. Not only is Haroon Mirza a fantastic artist, but also an incredible DJ. First created in 2019 to celebrate Elephant Magazine’s tenth birthday, here’s a playlist from Mirza to get your (house) party started!

We will be sharing our pick of remote arts experiences provided by local, national and international arts organisations as they come online so keep checking in with us here for updates. 

For now, to kick things off, we’ll share our top 10 cultural resources available right now to be discovered virtually. 

Our Arts at UoS top 10 choice of online cultural resources available now

1. Discover Southampton City Gallery’s collection online, via Art UK

We thought that we should start off proceedings by drawing attention to the work of a local organisation, and what better place to begin than the world-class treasure trove of art that sits on our doorstep at Southampton City Art Gallery? Any Southampton native will tell you that City Gallery holds one of the finest collections of art in the UK outside of London. Get to know the collection inside-out via the Art UK website and maybe, once this is all over, you can put a request in to see your favourite piece up-close in the City Gallery stores? 

2. Online Exhibition: Bauhaus: Building the New Artist, The Getty Research Institute

Learn about one of the most influential art and design schools of the 20th century in this online exhibition from The Getty Research Institute in California, developed in tandem with their physical exhibition Bauhaus Beginnings that took place in their galleries during the latter part of 2019. It’s a rich resource that includes exercises such as: building your own a Josef Albers 3D structure from a single piece of A4 paper, having a go at Vassily Kandinsky’s form and colour test, and creating your own version of Oskar Schlemmer’s The Triadic Ballet.

3. #StoryTime4HomeTime with James Mayhew

As a matter of pure chance, the final show to take place at Turner Sims prior to the lockdown was The Painted Planets; a collaboration between SÓN – Orchestra in Association at Turner Sims – and artist James Mayhew, in which an exploration of Holst’s Suite The Planets was accompanied by live illustration from James. 

Since the schools closed, James Mayhew has started a new #StoryTime4HomeTime series. Every day at 3pm (marking the end of the ‘school’ day), James releases a video on his YouTube channel in which he tells a story, often accompanied by his live illustration as he speaks. It’s a very peaceful way for little ones to end a day of home activities.

4. Virtual Tour: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Take a tour of Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and get lost in the ultimate cabinet-of-curiosities. Using your mouse cursor and keyboard direction keys to move around the space, learn about this unique collection notable for the way in which the exhibition is curated; typologically, grouping objects by their use, rather than by their country of origin or age.

5. Chocolate paintings, quizzes and more with Tate Kids  

If you’re a regular at John Hansard Gallery’s weekly Space to Create sessions, this one might be for you. Though *technically* intended for children, the Tate Kids website is an explosion of virtual art related fun for all age groups. Get stuck in to a creative activity in the ‘Make’ section – our favourite task has to be making a chocolate painting inspired by Jackson Pollock – or play one of their many games and quizzes. 

6. Free online courses from MoMA

If you’re craving something a bit more in depth, the Museum of Modern Art in New York offers a range of free courses online via Coursera. MoMA provide nine courses in total covering a range of subjects through fashion, photography and fine art. Our recommendations would be the What is Contemporary Art? course – swot up on your contemporary visual art knowledge ready for when the John Hansard Gallery opens its doors again – and 透过摄影看世界 (Seeing the World through Photography), a course given entirely in Chinese.

7. Local archive video and audio: explore Wessex Film and Sound Archive on YouTube

In a shout-out to another amazing local resource, we recommend delving into the Wessex Film and Sound Archive on YouTube. The archive itself is held at Hampshire Record Office in Winchester and their YouTube channel provides an easily accessible window to the past. Get to know your local history and see if you can spot any places or faces that you recognise!

8. Free online concerts: Always Playing from London Symphony Orchestra 

If you’re missing your Turner Sims fix, and whilst venues remain out-of-bounds, the London Symphony Orchestra are keeping us entertained by streaming full-length concerts from their archive twice weekly, on Thursdays and Sundays. They are even providing digital programme notes for each concert, offering viewers at home a more authentic concert-going experience.

9. BBC adaptation of Noughts + Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Streaming services are a lifesaver at the moment and, if you’re a lover of literature, Black History Month UK have recommended the six-part BBC One adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts + Crosses novels as essential watching during this downtime. The series, based on Blackman’s books for young adults, is now available to stream in full via BBC iPlayer. 

10. National Theatre at home 

One of the more high-profile offerings made available to the public so far is the National Theatre at home programme. Each Thursday, the NT will stream a National Theatre Live production in full on their YouTube channel, and each play will be available for the whole of the subsequent week. Starting on 2 April, first up is One Man, Two Guvnors featuring a tony-award winning performance from James Cordon.  


Keep up to date with news from our venues:

John Hansard Gallery: Mailing List | Twitter Facebook | Instagram
Turner Sims:  Mailing List | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Published by

Arts at University of Southampton

Whether you’re a student, staff or from our wider community, there are plenty of exciting cultural opportunities for everyone through Arts at University of Southampton.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.