Arcadia Spectacular

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Arcadia Spectacular, known colloquially as "Arcadia", are a performance art collective that combine elements of sculpture, architecture, recycling, pyrotechnics, lighting, circus and music into large scale performance and dance spaces. Best known for their 50-tonne "Spider",[1] they rework ex military machinery and industrial components into installations and 360 degree arenas, following a transformational and environmental ethos.[2][3][4][5][6]


Arcadia was founded by Pip Rush (who previously worked alongside his brother, artist Joe Rush, at the Mutoid Waste Company) and Bert Cole, formerly master of the world’s largest tent, the Valhalla.[7][8][9]

Their first collaboration, the Afterburner, debuted at the Glastonbury Festival in 2007 after being built in a cowshed.[10] Subsequent years saw the refinement of the Afterburner until 2010 when 3 Customs and Excise scanning units were attached as "legs".[2] This first incarnation of the ‘Spider’ led to two more years of adjustments until they both became separate installations in permanent form.[11][12] Arcadia's installations are built from recycled materials and military equipment[5][13]

Arcadia have developed a series of mechanical landscapes and performance-based shows between 2007 and the present, collaborated with New Zealander Carlos van Camp to form the Lords of Lightning[14] and built the mobile Bug Stage which appeared at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics.[5][15]

In 2014, Arcadia were given a permanent area at the Glastonbury Festival and Arcadia perform with the Spider in Bangkok, Thailand.[3][16] The Afterburner traveled to New Zealand for New Year's Eve at the Rhythm and Vines Festival [17] before travelling to Miami's Ultra Music Festival in March 2015 as part of its new "Resistance" area.[18]

In September 2015, Arcadia performed to 24,000 people over 2 nights in Bristol's Queen Square. This event that also celebrated Bristol's year as European Green Capital featured the world's first pyrotechnic flame system run entirely on recycled biofuel.[19] [20][21][22] In March 2016, Arcadia returned to Ultra's Resistance area with the Spider,[23] and autumn 2016 saw city shows in Seoul, Taipei and Perth where they collaborated with the Noongar tribe of Western Australia.

In 2018, they registered an Instagram account, and successfully obtained the deletion of another user account of the same name which had been registered since 2010.

Areas and performances[edit]

The Spider The Spider is a 360 degree structure built from recycled materials. Its ‘legs’ are Customs and Excise scanning units, its ‘eyes’ are spy plane engines, its ‘claws’ are log grabbers, its ‘body’ is built from helicopter tails and its DJ booth from jet engine blades.[1] The DJ booth is suspended above the dancefloor.[24] The Spider has several built in flame cannons, able to shoot 50 foot flames[25] and is rigged across its ‘body’ with lights and lasers. Its ‘arms’ fire jets of C02, it is often given a ‘skin’ by video mapping and it is surrounded by a 360 degree ‘soundfield’ of PA speakers, often in a circle designated by flaming Victorian lampposts.[6][12][26]

Metamorphosis Show The Metamorphosis Show is anchored in themes of transformation and incorporated both into the architecture of the Spider and across the arena with podiums in the midst of the crowd and a ring of external towers. The show features aerial performances, 7 meter mini spiders on zip wires above the crowd, lighting played as a musical instrument, new LED mapping technology, pyrotechnics, hydraulics, robotics, engineering and video mapping to tell a story of metamorphosis.[5][27][28][29]

The Afterburner The Afterburner is a 360 degree structure built from recycled materials. Its central focus is a flaming spire with multi level, radial platforms extending to a 360 degree inward facing sound system.[30]

The Bug The Bug is a 6 wheeled, amphibious stage built from submarine moulds and an Alvis Stalwart.[3]

Lords of Lightning A collaboration with New Zealander Carlos van Camp, a specialist in Tesla electricity.[14] The Lords of Lightning features two performance artists atop podiums containing Tesla coils that generate 4 million volts of electricity. The new Metamorphosis show has seen an evolution of the technology synchronise lightning bolts to musical notes.[31]

Flaming Lampposts A series of Victorian style lampposts entwined with recycled vehicle exhausts that give a treelike appearance. The lampposts are rigged with flame canons that emit jets of fire which are often synchronized with musical beats.


  1. ^ a b "Daily Telegraph".
  2. ^ a b "BBC - Et in Arcadia Ego".
  3. ^ a b c "Glastonbury Festival – Arcadia". Archived from the original on 2014-10-11.
  4. ^ "The Guardian - Arcadia at Glastonbury".
  5. ^ a b c d "Red Bulletin - Attack of the Giant Spider".
  6. ^ a b "TPI Magazine".
  7. ^ "World's Largest Tent".
  8. ^ "Glasto Earth Arcadia Interview".
  9. ^ "Kayam Tents - the Valhalla". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  10. ^ "E Festivals Interview Arcadia".
  11. ^ "Nu Magazine - Arcadia Interview". Archived from the original on 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  12. ^ a b "ADE Beamlab".
  13. ^ "BBC - Et In Arcadia Ego". BBC. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Australasian Science - Lords of Lightning".
  15. ^ "Festivals for All - Arcadia".
  16. ^ "Bangkok Post".
  17. ^ "New Zealand Herald".
  18. ^ "Ultra 2015's Resistance Stage Is the Festival's Best-Kept Secret". Miami New Times. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  19. ^ "The Guardian - Arcadia hits Bristol".
  20. ^ "Bristol Post".
  21. ^ "ITV News".
  22. ^ "BBC News - Fire spewing Spider is Bristol Show centerpiece".
  23. ^ "Ultra Miami 2016, Day One: A Giant Metal Spider Stole Our Hearts". Miami New Times. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  24. ^ "Urban 75 - Arcadia".
  25. ^ "The Guardian - Glastonbury Highlights".
  26. ^ "Mixmag - Story of the Spider". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  27. ^ "The Guardian - Not a normal 9-5".
  28. ^ Andy, Morris. "Wired". Wired UK.
  29. ^ "The Independent".
  30. ^ "Inverness Courier - Rockness".
  31. ^ "Excite UK - Multi Million Volt Ninjas".

External links[edit]