The perfect day starts on a campsite, tidy washing facilities and a walk of 15 minutes to the actual Eden Project ahead of us: We have tickets for Bjork tonight, playing for 6500 people with the well-known honeycomb globes behind the stage. It sounds like the most logical setting for a singer who has made the relationship of nature and technology the main topic of her art for now over 30 years, far before artificial intelligence and bionics entered everyone’s vocabulary.
Our ticket to this last Eden Session of the concert season gives us free entrance for the day of the gig and also the day afterwards and that on its own is fantastic value for money – visiting the Eden Project has been on my bucket list since it opened in 1998 (before I was even aware of the concept of a bucket list). Having influenced the visions of several science-fiction films, it has been called the most artificial place on earth by some; I’d say it is the place most dedicated to earth. As the UK’s heatwave clearly continues today we are advised to visit the rainforest part before it warms up. Here we are led through the climates of Madagascar, Mauritius and Thailand, being educated about the materials we use every day, which are harvested from the environment in different forms. Sebastião Salgado exhibits some photos from indigenous people between the plants and invites us to join an Instagram competition. Having just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood I am taken back by it all, no matter how much I failed my plastic-free-July pledge already.
The second globe is dedicated to the Mediterranean, focussing on herbs, vegetables and fruits and fascinating sculptures between the plant beds. I join the session of resident storyteller Rob Copeland who shares the legend of the merfolk in Cornish Padstow (accompanied by the concert’s soundcheck). I shared before why storytelling is important not just for children and the day continues to be perfect when England qualifies for the world cup’s semi-final.
By the time we head to the audience grounds we have walked around it several times and discovered rather hidden paths also outside the globes with eccentric (never silly) garden and landscape art. If Björk was an adjective this place would be truly björk. I believe having learned in Iceland that the word means “birch”.
We decide not to stand too close to the stage but rather where the grass goes up a bit to be able to see over the crowds. When we saw Bjork at the Melt! music festival in 2008 (in similar spectacular surroundings at the old East German mining grounds of Ferropolis) we were closer and admired her and her brass bands’ stage costumes from close by. This was in her Volta era. Since then Bjork has given us the first album for the ipad and a brilliant exhibition in London’s Somerset House with incredible VR installations, beaming us straight into her music.
The crowds form during support acts Klein and Lanark Artefax – Sugarcube buns are worn by many, t-shirts with album covers by even more and babies on arms wear big headphones.
Bjork enters the stage from a green-leafed throne as if declaring the representation of an allegory of nature: The whole stage becomes a jungle, a magnified wild meadow of sound and light, a blossoming micro cosmos of green. A burning man-style giant praying mantis would not look out of place, especially when the domes surrounding the stage are glowing green and lasers shoot towards the evening sky. The band accompanying Bjork has seven flutists and their harmonies add new depths to the music, resembling divine nymphs, dragonfly-like sylphs and bioluminescent nereids. Costumes and masks let fireflies appear on stage, ethereal creatures and wonders of the deep sea.
The sound quality is fantastic all the way through and the crowd listens and watches and smiles and cheers – to quote a poster here at the Eden Project it feels like someone put champagne in our veins.
I would not be surprised if Bjork will be listed for next year’s Eden Sessions again. Count me in.
The line up for 2019’s Eden Project is published.