Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

We’ve seen the epic plans and sort of know what’s coming to Manchester. But it was only this weekend that we saw inside The Factory for the first time, thanks to a major new sound and light installation by theatre and opera director, Deborah Warner.

Dubbed as a “world-class cultural space”, The Factory is currently being built in Manchester city centre on the site of the former Granada Studios and once complete will become the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival (MIF).

Just this weekend, we got the chance to see inside the venue for the first time, as Warner unveiled her bespoke installation, Arcadia – a field of luminous tents, emitting an original, sound composition weaving through some of the greatest nature poetry ever written. We’re talking poets such as Sappho, John Clare, WB Yeats, G. E. Patterson, Seamus Heaney, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage, Alice Oswald and Sabrina Mahfouz, among many others.

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Inspired in-part by a painting of Manchester by William Wyld, Arcadia also featured recorded contributions from leading actors and musicians including Jonathan Pryce, Jane Horrocks, RoxXxan, Brian Cox, Simon Russell Beale, Lioness and David Thewlis.

Designed to bring the natural world into the heart of Manchester, Arcadia was a space for thought and reflection, as visitors were invited to wander freely throughout the space between dusk and dawn to “connect with nature and consider the relationship between the urban and the rural,” as the Festival puts it.

The Factory is due to be completed later next year and will become a new landmark for the arts and for the city of Manchester. Its development is being led by Manchester City Council in partnership with MIF who will commission and present a year-round programme for the landmark building, featuring new work from the world’s greatest artists and offering a space to make, explore and experiment.

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Says Warner of the commission: “It has been enormously exciting to create a project for MIF inviting the public into The Factory for the very first time. It’s been thrilling to watch this extraordinary landmark building take concrete form from the core of one lift shaft, to its present stage of well-defined auditoria, rehearsal spaces, loading docks and offices. The Factory will not only change the cultural face of Manchester, but that of the UK, Europe and the world.”

Manchester International Festival runs until 18 July. For more details about this year’s programme, please visit mif.co.uk.

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

Arcadia installation by Deborah Warner at The Factory for MIF21. Photography by Andrew Brooks

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