ARCADIA is the result of a mutual desire by creative director Pip Rush and technical director Bert Cole to change the linear, static environment of festivals.
The Bristol-based team set about to fuse spectacle, technology, sculpture, engineering, architecture, adrenaline and music; reshaping the performance space into a 360-degree arena with fire at the centre and creating a multi-sensory immersive experience featuring a 50-tonne spider built from recycled materials.
“The Spider basically evolved out of a previous sculpture, the Afterburner, until we realised we had a spider on our hands,” Rush said.
“That’s the thing about working with recycled materials; you are both limited and liberated by what you find. You may have one idea forming then find a piece of old machinery and the whole plan changes as that brings fresh inspiration.
“It’s a very organic process and feels like there’s real creative give and take rather than just building rigidly to spec.
“The two main breakthroughs on the Spider were finding three customs scanning units that worked perfectly as legs and then realising the addition of jet engines as eyes brought it to life as an organism.”
Arcadia made its debut at Glastonbury Festival and will travel to Australia for the first time exclusively to Perth with community open days on November 23 and 24, 18 years and older shows at Elizabeth Quay on November 25 and 26 and an all ages performance on November 27.
Rush said music was the heartbeat of the shows and it was important to choose artists “whose sets we can get really creative with, accentuating dramatic moments and building sensory atmospherics around the soundscape”.
A significant aspect to the Perth shows is the collaboration with the Wadjuk Nyungar/People, with a union between the Arcadia spider and the sacred Wadjuk spider of Garrgatup (Kings Park).
The performance will be by Barry McGuire and family, dancing the Yallorr Keeninyarra which has not been performed in its traditional form to the WA public since 1901.
“We were deeply honoured and very touched when Barry came over to Glastonbury this summer and spent a week with us, during which he extended a formal invitation with a message stick ceremony,” Rush said.
“That time spent bonding was key and it’s what’s given this project such life.
“There is so much symbolic resonance; it’s a meeting of worlds and cultures through two spiders and the forging of a celebratory community that fuses so many strands of history, identity and humanity.
“We hope audiences feel that sense of magic; a magic made real by every individual and their shared experience with thousands.”
Where: Elizabeth Quay
When: ticketed shows November 25 to 27