Artichoke, also known as the Artichoke Trust, is a London-based British company and registered charitable trust that stages arts spectacles and live events. It was founded in 2002 by Helen Marriage, former director of the Salisbury International Arts Festival, and Nicky Webb.
Artichoke specialises in working in unusual places, such as streets, public spaces and the countryside, and are frequently on a large scale. The company's website states:
|“||We don’t believe the arts should take place only behind the closed doors of our theatres and art galleries. Instead, we put on shows that, though ambitious and complex, have something to say to the widest possible audience.||”|
The company produced The Sultan's Elephant, the biggest piece of free theatre ever staged in London, which attracted a million people over a four-day period in 2006, and the recent event in Liverpool featuring La Princesse, a giant mechanical spider. Artichoke has received praise from the press for their productions: a review in The Observer wrote: "a two-woman company called Artichoke ... are one of the most vital of theatrical forces", and Marriage and Webb transformed the Salisbury Festival from a local event into what The Times called "a miracle of modern British culture". Marriage and Webb won the 2006 Women of the Year Shine Award for an outstanding achievement in the arts, and were listed in Time Out's list of 100 Movers and Shakers in London in November of the same year. Their production of The Sultan's Elephant won the Visit London Award for Cultural Event of the Year in 2006. In October 2007 Artichoke mounted a one-day conference, Larger Than Life, on all aspects of staging large-scale productions.
The Artichoke Trust is a registered charity (Reg Charity No 1112716), funded by the Arts Council and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and raising significant funds from other trusts, foundations and businesses, as well as by public donation. Artichoke also works as a consultant through its non-charitable company, Artichoke Productions Ltd.
Nicky Webb and Helen Marriage worked together intermittently on productions prior to founding Artichoke in 2002. In all, their productions have included:
- 1990 and 1992-3 Canary Wharf. Productions to mark the new development at Canary Wharf in London.
- 1999 Salisbury Festival: Dining with Alice at the Larmer Tree Pleasure Gardens in Wiltshire, a performance based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This will be re-staged in 2009.
- 1999 Salisbury Festival: Last Words. A poetry festival without a single poem being read.
- 1999-2000 Salisbury Festival: Eye Openers in Salisbury and at Old Sarum.
- 2002 The Queen's Jubilee Commissioned for the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
- 2003 Imber, a requiem for the village of Imber on Salisbury Plain that was requisitioned by the British Army in World War II for training purposes and its inhabitants evacuated. Commissioned by Artangel.
- 2006 The Sultan's Elephant in London, in association with French performance arts company Royal de Luxe. This is the largest free public arts event ever to have been staged in London
- 2006 A Portrait of London in Trafalgar Square, created by film director Mike Figgis to mark the 50th anniversary of the London Film Festival.
- 2008 Telectroscope in association with artist Paul St George, linking New York City and London.
- 2008 La Princesse, a giant mechanical spider that roamed the streets of Liverpool as part of the European City of Culture celebrations. In association with French performance art company La Machine.
- 2009 One & Other, Antony Gormley's Fourth Plinth project in Trafalgar Square, which placed 2400 people on the empty plinth for one hour at a time over 100 days.
- 2009 – present Lumiere festival, a light festival first held in Durham, containing over 20 installations and new commissions that transformed the city for four nights. Subsequently repeated in Derry and London.
Nicky Webb (editor), 2006, Four Magical Days in May: How an Elephant Captured the Heart of a City London: Artichoke Trust
- "About Artichoke". Artichoke. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
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- "How cogs in La Machine spun a few wheels". Liverpool Daily Post. Archived from the original on 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- "The Sultan's Elephant". The Arts Council. Archived from the original on 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Gardner, Lyn (2008-08-27). "And for our next trick...The duo who brought London to a standstill with a giant elephant are going one step further in Liverpool". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Clapp, Susannah (2008-05-25). "You could really get sucked in...A 'tunnel' from London to New York brings drama to the street, and Lee Hall tops his own Billy Elliot with another heroic miners' tal". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- "Salisbury Festival". Artichoke. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- "Magical show that will change the way we look at the world". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Davies, Catriona (2006-10-17). "The women who made a difference". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- "Chamberlain ampr Press Release" (PDF). Chamberlain PR. Retrieved 2008-09-11.[dead link]
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- "Visit London Award Winners Announced" (PDF). Visit London. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- "Artichoke". La Machine. Archived from the original on 11 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-11.