The Magical Menagerie

Mon 07 Jun 2010

Pioneering arts organisation Artichoke will present the UK premiere of The Magical Menagerie – a spectacular carousel of monumental proportions arriving in Milton Keynes this July. Produced by Artichoke in partnership with Sky Arts and supported by Arts Council England, The Magical Menagerie is the creation of visionary artist and engineer François Delarozière. Director of French theatrical engineering company, La Machine, Delarozière has worked with Artichoke on two of its previous much acclaimed productions, Royal De Luxe’s The Sultan’s Elephant in London, and La Machine which saw a giant mechanical spider known as La Princesse take over the streets of Liverpool.

Brought to Milton Keynes as part of the first IF: Milton Keynes International Festival, a brand new multi-arts festival produced by The Stables in association with Milton Keynes Gallery taking place from 16 – 25 July, this extraordinary installation will remain in the city until 8 August, transporting visitors to the world of its fantastical oversized creatures. Accommodating 49 people each ride, the carousel’s giant buffalos, exotic insects and tropical fish will come to life as the carousel starts to turn; its unique, custom-built moving elements controlled both mechanically and manually by its riders.

With a surface area of over 300m² and weighing 40 tonnes, The Magical Menagerie makes an extraordinary impact. The fourth and most ambitious carousel created by La Machine, this custom built work of art required the skill and imagination of nearly 50 constructors, artists, engineers, wood carvers, locksmiths, specialists, set designers and technicians to create.

Originally commissioned for the French new town, Sénart, as part of its innovative vision to build art into the city infrastructure, it is fitting that the world’s largest and only square carousel, known in France as Le Manège Carré Sénart, is making its UK debut as The Magical Menagerie in the new town of Milton Keynes. Travelling around the world to represent Sénart outside its boundaries, Le Manège has previously settled in Madrid, Spain, Portimão, Portugal and Antwerp, Belgium.

The Magical Menagerie is the third major commission in the Sky Arts Artichoke Season, which launched in 2009 with Antony Gormley’s Fourth Plinth project One & Other in London’s Trafalgar Square and Lumiere in Durham. On 18 July and 1 August, Sky will be holding Sky Sundays, offering all visitors a two-for-the-price-of-one ride on The Magical Menagerie as well as a raft of extra entertainment.

Nicky Webb, Co-Director, Artichoke, said:
‘‘We are thrilled to be working with La Machine again to bring The Magical Menagerie to the UK for the very first time. All our work is about giving the public unforgettable, magical experiences that make them look at their surroundings in a different way. Milton Keynes is the perfect location for The Magical Menagerie, which was inspired by the similarly purpose-built ‘new town’ of Sénart in France.’’

Monica Ferguson, Festival Director, IF: Milton Keynes International Festival: ‘‘IF: Milton Keynes International Festival will redefine Milton Keynes as a place of artistic adventure.We are delighted to be working with Artichoke - who never fail to delight with the fantastical experiences they create - and our partners Milton Keynes Council, Milton Keynes Partnernship, and Milton Keynes Economy and Learning Partnership to deliver this incredible project which is a real a highlight in our ambitious programme.’’

The Magical Menagerie is produced by Artichoke in partnership with Sky Arts and supported by Arts Council England for IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2010, produced by The Stables in association with Milton Keynes Gallery with support from Arts Council England, Milton Keynes Council, Milton Keynes Partnership, and Milton Keynes Economy and Learning Partnership.

Arts Council England has topped its original £462,000 investment in IF: Milton Keynes International Festival with an additional £100,000 to make The Magical Menagerie’s inclusion in the festival programme possible.

Sally Abbott Regional Director, Arts Council England, commented:
“In my mind, The Magical Menagerie perfectly represents the curiosity, wonder and exhilaration that the arts can bring to people’s lives. We are delighted to be able to support such a fantastic addition to what is already a hugely exciting festival programme. I look forward to seeing you there!”

John Cassy, Director, Sky Arts, added:
“We’re delighted to support Artichoke in bringing The Magical Menagerie to Milton Keynes. It promises to be a fantastic day out.”

Box Office:  Telephone: 01908 280800 Online:

Weekday Prices:  Single Ticket £4.00 (£3.00 in advance), Family Ticket (2 adults + 2 children or 1 adult + 3 children) £12 (£10 in advance), School groups of 10 or more by arrangement: £2.50 each

Weekend Prices: Single Ticket £5.00 (£4.00 in advance), Family Ticket (2 adults + 2 children or 1 adult + 3 children) £16 (£14 in advance)

Opening Times: 12 noon until 8pm daily from 16 July – 8 August - Closed Mondays 26 July and 2 Aug

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