Festival of Love: creating the The Temple of Agape in London

Published:  August 1, 2014
Lucy Waddington

Hosted by the Southbank Centre for their summer ‘Festival of Love’, designers Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan from Supergroup London constructed a ‘temple’ to celebrate one of the seven Ancient Greek themes of love. Dubbed The Temple of Agape, the haven seeks to echo an all-consuming kind of love for humanity. With bold typography and even bolder neon hues, the structure radiates with a contagious positive energy that appears electric against raw industrial materials.

Regularly pairing up to commission hand-painted edifices, the duo were inspired by similar structures seen in India and across Asia where bamboo is used extensively for scaffolding. The inclusion of bright hues is similarly inspired, giving an admirable nod to loud signage that champions intense saturation. The Southbank Festival of Love also features work by illustration collective NousVous who were asked to depict each of the seven Greek categories of love. The final temple that was developed sprouted from an initial sketch (pictured below) by Myerscough:
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Over 300 wooden panels varying in size were painted in Myerscough’s studio across three weeks with the help of regular assistants and volunteers. Standing 8m high, the final temple is 12m wide and was constructed with the help of specialist scaffold engineers and a scaffold contractor. Neon ribbons form a 60m canopy for the ‘love benches’ that lead to the entrance.

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Visitors have the opportunity to wander through the structure, illuminated by dotted sunlight, before proceeding up a flight of stairs abundant with banners and signs that lead to the next level of the Southbank Centre. The installation provides an opportunity to experience a once familiar entry and view of Royal Festival Hall, in a new light. Myerscough and Morgan explain to Creative Review, that ”the Temple stands proud like a peacock with its giant Martin Luther King quote, expressing the power of love to the world… Inside its heart is calm and dappled with light for contemplating complex emotions, a place that can transform with Love expressed within.”

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The aim of the festival is to present love in a diversity of forms. A sequence of weekends will celebrate the seven Ancient Greek themes of love (Agape, Storge, Pragma, Philia, Philautia, Eros & Ludos) through an collection of workshops, performances and installations. The Big Wedding Weekend will be the grand finale – celebrating the year in which same-sex marriage became legal, all couples, gay or straight, are invited to marry or renew their vows on the stage of the Royal Festival Hall.

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