In her vision she fluidly
soars above the crowd
only the voices raise higher
than her shattered dreams.
He believes she guides his hands
a tapestry of red flowers
to make softer her landing.
Reuniting their solitudes
with their love for unloved places
they transform the intimate in epic
ascending on a pair of broken wings.
Experiments with projections.
Here we are, in this drizzling July evening at 10pm, Soren, Anna and me, armed with projector in hand, extension cable, electric power sourced from the Chicken Shop in Junction Road, trying to project on the black facade of the Archway Tower - mad or what?
The image is satisfying in size. A bit pale and low definition, but with a better projector it will look grand. White reads better than red on the black concrete. I will have to wear white for my solo.
The view from above is breathtaking! The Shard looks quite small from here...
After months of careful negotiations Pete has succeeded, we got the tower!
I walked underneath this building thousands of times in the last 14 years, this is the first time I have access inside and to the roof.
Trepidation in the air.
This tower is so high - it gives space to dream.
With Lindsey, who will choreograph the performance. Tea and biscuits in my kitchen with the view on the jasmine blossoms, listening to 20 different music tracks, sharing ideas, finding the mood.
Movement 1 - DESCENT into oblivion
Movement 2 - SOLITUDE broken wings
Movement 3 - CHRYSALIS wrapped in silks
Movement 4 - FLIGHT taken by the air
After over two months of rehearsing my solo on my own, today I rehearsed for hours with Sue Brent. She is amazing: her eye for detail and her insight and support are invaluable. I feel elated.
In the afternoon second site visit to the tower with Lindsey, Chahine and Jake who will illuminate the performance. Soren and Lindsey discussing rigging points on the roof. Jake and Chahine looking for wires, cables, checking that the power is on in various points of the tower. Excitement and wind at the top of the tower. WE WILL FLY HIGH!
Filming with Sky. In the dark space there is a woman with a long white dress spinning as if there was no tomorrow. Camera taking long lingering pans on the texture of the fabrics, details of feet, hands, profile.
Later on we project on Archway Tower with Valentina and Ben. Satisfying quality, details do not read so well. We need more wide shots and working with verticality.
More filming in the cold dark space. Tiredness and exhaustion soaring high. Then the music performs a miracle, energy back, dancing in the air dressed in the white long dress.
Sky Neal stills are lush, just what I wanted. That velvety feeling where solitude becomes so seductive that you want to be her.
From the production department: last few days, last few things to sort. This is the worst period because all we want is to get on the building and get on with it, we're more than ready to go go go!
Over the last few weeks people have asked me if the performance is about the history of the tower. If history is a chronology of dates and facts, my answer is no, is not about that. However if history is about events which have left a mark on places and people, just like age changes our skin. If history is about the way we recollect experiences and the unreliability of our memories, yes Paradise Lost? is inspired by that.
It is inspired by how the tower has changed over time. It draws from people who live or work in this area and have shared their stories with me.
Day 1 of rehearsals.
People often ask me, referring to the aerialists: "Are they fearless?"
That is so far from the truth. Riggers and aerialists have fear, but they can go beyond their fear. They don't 'jump' from buildings or great heights, they carefully go over the edge, being proficient at what they do.
Aerialists don't go over the edge thinking "I am falling" - they know that with the help of the equipment they can fly.
That's why people stay and look, briefly stopping in their tracks...
Day 3 of rehearsals
The super-heroines of Paradise Lost? in action. They are fast...
By day she direct flyers, by night she flies on the tower alone.
The soundtrack for Archway is a music of longing - longing to stop the traffic, the noise, the people rushing by
and make them listen to sublime sounds...
Red is sipping out of the tower
STOP FOR A MINUTE
WATCH AND DO NOT SAY A WORD
JUST TAKE IT IN, IN SILENCE!
Amongst the hectic streets of Archway, up on the tower, Paradise Lost? is alchemically merging together, layer upon layer; the live performance by our stunning aerialists at 60 metres up in the air, the skills of the riggers who keep them safe, the heavenly soundtrack, the stunning light.
PEOPLE OF ARCHWAY - WE ARE READY FOR YOU!
Thousands of people in the streets entranced by the poetry of the piece, the Archway Tower alive and transformed.
That's all we wanted for this piece, to celebrate with our community, the community we work with everyday, and the one we care the most for. That goes beyond creating art FOR, it is sharing art WITH.
"A life lived in fear, is a life not worth living!"
We did it - Paradise Lost?
What now Archway - Paradise Regained?
Here are some of the comments collected during the performance, from emails we received, and from messages on Twitter and Facebook:
"Breathtaking! They are so courageous."
"They are completely stupid. What if they fell? I think it's f***ing stupid. Nonsense."
"What is this? Is it a present to Archway?"
"At home I have a spiderman outfit, a proper one. I shall bring it to you, so you can wear it for the show. I lived in Archway all of my life, I would be gutted if I miss this!"
"I think you are amazing at what you are doing. Could I shake your hand, could I have my picture taken with you."
"Just seen some absolute heroes abseiling down the Archway Tower. Bonkers and beautiful. Oh my god, they are all women." (Charlotte Worthing)
"Many thanks Scarabeus for an amazing performance. I never expected Archway to look like this, an amazing counterpoint to the depressing traffic." (Chas De Swiett)
"What an amazing show! Delighted to be an Archway resident and feel privilege to have seen this!" (Robert Heard)
"Only time I've felt part of the community in Archway... How do we campaign for the tower to be lit up every night?" (Kirsty Marsh)
"You and your team managed to give Archway beauty, that spiritual beauty which transforms a place." (Stephanie, Archway Market)
"Still glowing at the thought of that fantastic performance. The faces of the people on the pavements were almost better than the spectacle." (Isabel, Archway Town Centre Group)
"Deeply touched by Scarabeus installation performance last night on the Archway Tower. In the midst of a dark chaotic friday night crossflow of human traffic, cars beeping, ambulances flashing… you stopped people in their tracks and made them look up… heads craning out of car windows, on buses, people and voices on the streets… and for a fleeting moment - you gave them something beautiful. Truly uplifting to be seized by a glimmer of hope, of the impossible, in such a dispirited place, and to have that image burnt across the skyline and into our memories to keep. Thank you Daniela & Søren's crew and the four brave, strong and beautiful women twirling and swirling at such heartstopping height down that hugely imposing building. Captures the essence of the healing and regenerative power of the arts." (Hannah Edy)
Artistic Director: Daniella Essart
Technical Director: Soren Nielsen
Aerial Choreographer: Lindsey Butcher
Performers: Lindsey Buthcher, Beatrice Perini, Vicki Mcmanus, Kate Cooley
Riggers: Joe White, Caroline Abbott
Stage manager: Graeme Klint
Lighting designers: Chahine Yarowhan, Jake Bennet
Aerial choreographer for the video: Sue Brent
Video Maker: Sky O'Neal
Video Projection: SDNA