MIF21: Arcadia

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Arcadia at MIF21.

Arcadia at Aviva Studios, Manchester 10 — 11 July 2021 Tickets from £5 — Book now

Be the first to experience new work at MIF’s future year-round home with a special installation bringing the natural world into the heart of the city – created especially for the site by director Deborah Warner.

You’ve seen the cranes and the structure gradually climbing upwards from where Granada Studios once stood, and Arcadia gives you the chance to get a sneak peek at The Factory – the brand-new multi-million pound landmark for the arts and culture, designed by internationally renowned architects OMA, which aims to build on Manchester’s history as a dynamic centre for creativity and innovation. The time slots run throughout the night, so why not do some urb ex in the wee small hours?

Drawing on some of the greatest poems written about the natural world, Arcadia’s original sound composition will weave together the works of poets through the ages.

For one weekend only, this Pre-Factory Event will allow you to explore the building’s immense open spaces, still under construction and not due for completion until later next year, as acclaimed opera and theatre director Deborah Warner CBE reimagines it as a place for peaceful contemplation, thought and reflection. Arcadia is somewhere to pause – for a moment, perhaps for longer.

Created specifically for the site-in-progress of The Factory, Arcadia is a new sound and light installation that invites audiences to connect with nature in the heart of the city, to consider the relationship between the urban and the rural, the town and the country, the natural and the manufactured – and to reflect on our own personal connections with them all. Inspired in part by a 19th-century painting by the English artist William Wyld of Manchester (at that point, the world’s greatest producer of cotton textiles), Arcadia will see audiences invited to wander through a field of luminous tents from which a murmuring soundscape of poetry will seep.

Drawing on some of the greatest poems written about the natural world, Arcadia‘s original sound composition will weave together the works of poets through the ages, from The Poetess Sappho in Ancient Greece to Simon Armitage, the UK’s current Poet Laureate. Think William Blake, John Clare, Seamus Heaney, Jackie Kay, Sabrina Mahfouz, GE Patterson, Alice Oswald, WB Yeats and many more besides. The installation features field recordings by Chris Watson and recorded contributions from leading actors and musicians including Jade Anouka, Alun Armstrong, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Burke, Brian Cox, Ayesha Dharker, Clare Dunne, Ioan Gruffudd, Jane Horrocks, Sara Kestelman, Lioness, Pauline Lynch, Lucian Msamati, Nemzzz, Patrick O’Kane, Jonathan Pryce, RoxXxan, David Thewlis and others.

Please note: as Arcadia is a visual art installation that features an abstract soundscape made up of snatches of poetry, it does not include any narrative spoken text, so there is no captioning or BSL interpretation of this work.

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival and Stanford Live at Stanford University. Produced by Manchester International Festival.

Part of Manchester International Festival 2021.

Arcadia at Aviva Studios, Manchester 10 — 11 July 2021 Tickets from £5 Book now

What's on at Aviva Studios

Where to go near MIF21: Arcadia

Event venue
Old Granada Studios

Manchester’s old Granada Studios is an iconic piece of the city’s history and home to Sidney Bernstein’s television empire.

The Loft Manchester

Smart event space in the building previously occupied by Walkabout, and now host to all manner of exciting one-off happenings

Manchester Opera House by Phil Tragen
City Centre
Manchester Opera House

A commercial touring theatre, the Manchester Opera House is reopening in August 2021, all set to host the city’s finest mainstream theatrical productions, music gigs, opera and ballet.

City Centre
Music venue
Low Four Studio

Old Granada Studios has announced Low Four: a new studio and music project that will stream and archive live music performance as part of a new generation of music TV programming. The inclusion of a viewing balcony also means that these recordings, along with special events and concerts, will be made open to a few […]

20 Stories

High-end restaurant and cocktail bar, with stunning views of the Manchester skyline.

Smolensky Gallery

This appointment-only gallery is a hidden gem in Manchester. Art lovers and collectors can browse many high quality pieces.

Moxy Manchester City

Moxy Manchester City is a stylish 146-bedroom hotel in Spinningfields, with an attractive living room lobby and modern, well-stocked bar.

Hey Little Cupcake

Hey Little Cupcake is a small, trendy cupcake boutique nestled in Spinningfields that uses the finest ingredients to create a signature collection of cupcakes, cakes and brownies.

What's on: Literature

Writer Kate Feld. Photo by Simon Buckley
Kate Feld at House of Books & Friends

Kate Feld has a book out and we couldn’t be happier – Deeryard is a new pamphlet of prose poetry and photographs, published by Manchester independent press Death of Workers Whilst Building Skyscrapers.

from £0.00

Culture Guides

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Cinema in Manchester and the North

From the latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, to silent movie masterpieces we highlight the best new releases and big screen classics showing near you this month.