The Royal Albert Hall is a venue that is usually associated with the Proms, Cirque de Soleil, and other artistic performances.

However, this week it played host to the first ever TEDxAlbertopolis conference. TEDx events are an offshoot of the renowned TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conferences that take place every year in California. TED’s credo is ‘ideas worth spreading’ and independently organised TEDx events mean that a wider, more global audience is able to join the TED community, as the original conferences are difficult to access due to location and cost.

My only past experience of TED/TEDx had been hours spent watching the videos of talks that are available on the internet, so I had no idea of what to expect from attending a live TEDx event. The talks were held in the auditorium of the Hall, which became the most beautiful conference venue I have ever seen: a giant red carpet in the shape of a tree, presumably the tree of knowledge, dominating the stage.

…the name given to the land bought with the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition…

 TEDx Royal Albert HallThe conference title, Albertopolis, is the name given to the land bought with the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition that is now home to such edifices as the Hall, the Science Museum, and the V&A. With such a diverse range of institutions as the inspiration for the day, the theme became the relationship between art and science and the changing dialogue between two cultures that are sometimes considered to be incompatible; art cannot be scientific and vice versa.

TEDxAlbertopolis set out to banish such preconceptions and to suggest new ways of thinking about subjects that ranged from Tourette’s Syndrome to swing dancing. Each of the three sessions lasted for about an hour, with about four or five talks per session. This was a great way to digest what the speakers had to say and helped a lot with maintaining concentration over a five-hour event.

…the relationship between the solving of word puzzles and our belief in our own individual ability to succeed…

Some of the most inspiring TEDx talks can come from the most unexpected sources, and this was certainly true at TEDxAlbertopolis. John Halpern, a cryptic crossword-setter for national newspapers, gave a surprisingly moving talk on the relationship between the solving of word puzzles and our belief in our own individual ability to succeed. The conference even extended beyond the auditorium and break periods were a chance to examine a sculpture created from the nose cone of the Concorde, or to witness the marvel of the Quantum Parallelograph.

I left TEDxAlbertopolis feeling inspired to learn more and to get involved in similar events in the future. I sincerely hope that this incarnation of TEDx becomes an annual occurrence, as there is still so much to be explored within the world of Albertopolis.

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About The Author

Warwick University graduate who has just moved to London. Can often be found at cinemas, theatres and bookshops across town.

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