GLASTONBURY AND JOE RUSH London sculptor Joe rush, founder of the Mutoid Waste Company,
a travelling arts collective of wild and subversive punk performers, is an icon of the festival culture.
His artistic journey and aesthetics inspired the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games which he co-art directed.
His role in the Festival's artistic evolution is fundamental.
Aged 25, with a rabbit skin as a Mohican glued on top of his shaved head, he drove his burnt out “ flag ship for rock n’ roll “ into the fields of Glastonbury Festival.
It was 1985.
“ Thatcher had attacked the Peace Convoy in a bean field outside Stonehenge, the gathering place of the travelling scene, just as the Company took to the road. Stonehenge free festival had been destroyed, so we went to Glastonbury.
Like a giant death mask of Stonehenge, we drove the Skull bus, a giant skull with rib cages mounted on the burnt frame of a green Goddess fire engine, through the police lockdown on to Worthy Farm. "The Ride of the Walkyries" was playing out of the speakers while we parked in the mud in front of the Pyramid Stage”. J.R.
This marked the first “art invasion” of Glastonbury, which had been a music only Festival until then.
In 1987, Michael Eavis offered him a field. Rush called it 'Mutoid Wastelands’.
In its centre, he erected 'Carhenge', a Stonehenge made of old cars which he dedicated to the battered Peace Convoy. Around it, he scattered his installations and sculptures built from mechanical, military and industrial waste.
At midnight on the solstice, in homage to the Travellers’ movement, he set Carhenge on fire.
The Mutoids beat their drums. Hundreds of punters joined in grabbing random pieces of metal to beat in unison a hypnotic, tribal, primitive rhythm on his ephemeral sculptures.
At dawn, in the debris of burnt metal, they were two thousand in a trance inventing the first rave of the Festival. For 15 years, Michael Eavis has invited Joe Rush, the dreamer of mutant worlds and master builder of rock n’ roll environments, to collaborate on the Festival.
He created Trash City, a Disneyland on acid for adults, commissioned Block 9 and Arcadia, reinvented Shangri-La, created the Unfairground, “ A Kiss on the Apocalypse ”, Cineramageddon, the Pier, the Lotus Burn and the mythical parades of mutant vehicles around the site.
In 2013, he took on the very symbol of the festival: the Pyramid Stage.
At the top of the stage, he erected a mechanical Phoenix that danced its own resurrection before bursting into flames in front of a crowd of 150,000 spectators to the sound of
“ Sympathy for the Devil ” by the Rolling Stones.
Since then, Joe Rush's sculptures have adorned the proscenium of the Pyramid and the Other Stage every year.
The visionary and pioneering 35-year artistic collaboration between Michael Eavis, founder of the 'world's best festival' and Joe Rush, the revolutionary underground artist, continues to reinvent the festival experience and serves as a model for many festivals in the UK and around the world.