The Royal Opera House Residency

In early 2010 I won a coveted ten months artist residency at The Royal Opera House.

The company was moving the warehouse where they build all their marvellous sets to a purpose built site in Purfleet, Essex.

They wanted me to produce an outdoor installation to welcome the guests attending a community opera, which was being staged in the new building.

I came up with a concept, a series of towers, up to eight metres tall. Each tower would be dedicated to a different aspect of the industry of opera. With the first tower representing costume followed by mechanics and carpentry and finally opera itself.

Each tower had performers involved. Sebastian Muhr had made an incredible bike machine that powered pulleys sending costumes flying across the fields. Cristobal Muhr designed performances for each tower. It was freezing outside we created quite a spectacle. Within the building itself I'd devised an extension of my Beautiful Freaks exhibition, with giant plywood boxes containing hidden performances. You could witness them from peepholes in the sides. My mother was sewing in one box, my friend nursed her baby in another. We had a drummer in frantically banging away and a young ballerina in a prism. A man played a piano and sang a ballad in another and my friend Hayley decorated cakes in her special kitchen.

Pictures by Manuel Vazquez