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Performers to scale new heights in Archway

  • Date: 07 October 2013
  • Author: Caroline Horrocks
The iconic Archway Tower in Islington becomes the venue for a performance by aerial theatre company Scarabeus later this month.

Scarabeus will perform their new work 'Paradise Lost?' suspended from Archway Tower, N19 from 8pm-8.30pm on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 October. 

The spectacular new performance is commissioned by arts-led regeneration project A Million Minutes, funded by Islington Council and Arts Council England.  It features a haunting soundtrack and video projections and will see four aerial artists scaling the heights of the 16-storey building.

'Paradise Lost?' draws on the remarkable history of the site and of the people of Archway to tell an intimate story of love, loss and hope against the epic backdrop.

Residents and visitors are invited to gather on the pavements around the tower to view the unique performance.

Archway Tower is a 195-foot (59 metre) office building built over Archway tube station. Completed in 1963, it initially housed the Department of Social Security but was vacated in 2011. Prior to that, the site had an extraordinary past, including being home to Benjamin Samuel Williams, a famous botanist and orchidologist who cultivated rare and exotic plants; the Electric Theatre and the Chivers jam warehouse.

Daniela Essart, Scarabeus Artistic Director, said:

"As an artist, I'm inspired on a daily basis by Archway and its people and history.  The Archway Tower and its surrounding area has a particularly fascinating story to tell.  Where the tower now stands in 'isolation' lived the most extraordinary and beautiful orchid houses.  I am fascinated by the idea that so much beauty was here and the possibility that that such beauty can return. 'Paradise Lost?' is about linking the tower with this history, reconnecting the building with the local community by providing a voice to the tower, making it alive and pulsate with energy again."

A Million Minutes uses the arts as a way of connecting local communities in Archway and Finsbury Park with their surroundings and exploring how the public feel about the areas, from residents who know them well, to passing commuters.

The project has three strands - Hostings, Windows and Spaces.  Since launching in September 2012, artists have worked with community groups, local people and passers-by, in a range of locations and mediums; from creative writing, knitting and drawing, to performance art and animation.

Islington Council's executive member for health and wellbeing, Cllr Janet Burgess, said:

"The Archway Tower is a building that has always provoked mixed responses from residents, but there's no doubt that it's an iconic landmark in the local area.  I doubt that when it was first designed, anyone ever imagined it would one day become the location of an aerial theatre piece! 

"A Million Minutes has provided so many different opportunities for residents and passers-by to get involved and see Archway in a new light, and Scarabeus' performance promises to be an exciting addition to the project."

For further details about 'Paradise Lost?' visit