Deputy Artistic Director, Southbank Centre

Shân Maclennan


Shân Maclennan has worked at Southbank Centre since 1992. She is now Deputy Artistic Director, a role she has held since January 2015. Her first job was in the Education department and since then she has worked at weaving learning for all into the fabric of the organisation. A cornerstone of this work has been her leadership of the Southbank Centre’s heritage and archive work both as a physical collection of materials to be cared for and preserved and the blueprint for the organisation’s values and its development. With the recently constructed Archive Studio as the focal point, the archive is now available to be enjoyed, examined and added to by people of all ages and all backgrounds more than ever before.

Shân’s first job was in Edinburgh in the 1980s where she was part of the group who founded The Collective Gallery before moving on to arts development roles in North Wales and Hampshire. She led the Arts Outreach team for Southampton City Council before taking up her role at Southbank Centre. She has degrees from the Universities of Bristol and Edinburgh.

Presentation: The Telepathy of Archives

I’ve borrowed this title from Susan Howe, American poet, scholar, essayist and critic. I like it – and the mysterious, poetic book it describes – because it suggests that Archives are a living entity, a conduit between past and future, between reality and dreams; a thread which links individuals across time and geography and allows them to get to know each other for the benefit of future generations. My work at Southbank Centre has been based on an encounter with our archive which is as real as a meeting with another human being. In my talk, I’m going to explore the nature of this relationship and I’m going to consider the possibility that it is through the intimate exploration of a carefully preserved and inclusive history that we can truly imagine and go on to build the future.