Kent architecture

Hayward Gallery opens The Hop by Jyll Bradley inspired by Kent’s hop gardens

Artist Jyll Bradley links the urban landscape of the South Bank to the rural hop gardens of Kent with a dynamic and interactive outdoor installation, Hops. The towering pavilion, made of metal, wood and colored plexiglass, creates brilliant reflections of light and casts a spectrum of color over the iconic brutalist architecture of the Southbank Centre. Hops continues this year’s program of striking outdoor installations at the Southbank Centre, providing free access to art for all.

The artwork, which will be on view until October 2, 2022, is inspired by the story of thousands of working-class families in Lambeth bringing in the hop harvest – or “go hop” – which was seen by some as “working holiday”. Every year until the 1960s, these Londoners fled the city’s pollution for Kent’s green hop gardens.

Jyll’s installation echoes the geometry of Kent’s unique hop-growing structures where the vines have been arranged to expose the harvest to maximum sunlight. Hops extends outward and upward, evoking a gathering of people with outstretched arms. It considers the physical and spiritual labor required to grow something, whether it is a crop or a community. The artwork also alludes to several temporary creative pavilions that were built nearby as part of the Post-War Festival of Britain in 1951. Many of these pavilions were colourful, creative and futuristic spaces. When lit up at night, the South Rim has become an exciting place for impromptu gatherings and even spontaneous dancing.

Jyll Bradley says: “The Hop is a work of time, memory and light. I felt an immediate connection to local ‘jumping’ stories: I grew up in rural Kent and spent my entire adult life in Bermondsey. The work also speaks to the site as I worked at the Hayward as a young artist, learning about the post-war Festival of Britain with its creative pavilions. Hops are made up of multiple elements and, like a hop garden, are the work of many hands. I see sculpture as a collective, a gathering in itself, as well as a space for solo gathering and contemplation.

Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, says: “Inspired by local stories, Jyll Bradley’s epic outdoor installation is an adventurous and captivating new work that draws visitors in with its inspired architectural forms and remarkable play with light and color. As you wander through and around him, the details of his appearance constantly change, challenging our habits of perception. At the same time, The Hop is also creating an exciting and welcoming new environment on the Gallery’s West Terrace – a bright and colorful space in which visitors can explore, scroll, or rest and reflect.

An exciting collection of newly commissioned poetry, sound art and dance pieces is being created in response to Hops. The poetry, inspired by the themes of the installation, was commissioned from the New Poets Collective; sound artist and composer Emily Peasgood created an original sound composition, influenced by the futuristic electronic techniques of the 60s and 70s; and a series of dance performances, choreographed by Adesola Akinleye, will take place on August 6 in Hops flag. In the days leading up to the opening, dance company MCDC performed a newly commissioned routine that responded to the themes of Hops through hip hop and contemporary movements. An “In Conversation” event with Jyll Bradley and Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff will take place on September 21.

The work was designed in close collaboration with Structural Engineer Ben Godber and Expedition Engineering, with Hayward Conservation Assistant Debbie Meniru, Operations and Logistics Manager Marcia Ceppo and Senior Installation Technician Maarten van den Bos manages the realization of the project on site.

Hops was produced with the generous support of the Hayward Gallery Commissioning Committee and significant additional support from David Maclean.

Hayward Gallery