Explore the OUTERverse

Fasten your seatbelts and hold on to your hats as we chat with Luke Mitchell, one of the creative minds behind Wake The Tiger, about how magic, madness and mayhem go from ideas to reality.

Following phenomenal success and cementing itself within Bristol’s creative-culture scene, Wake The Tiger has undergone a massive expansion, and is ready to take visitors on a journey to another dimension as they transcend into the OUTERverse. Based in the heart of St. Philips, the world’s first Amazement Park has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to explore the world of Meridia as they venture through a treasure trove of labyrinths, secret passageways and endless discoveries. Almost two years since opening, Wake The Tiger has unveiled a huge new addition to the immersive walk-through experience, with a further 15 completely unique art spaces ready and waiting for people to voyage into, transcending to a dimension beyond imagination.

We sat down with Wake The Tiger’s co-founder and creative director Luke Mitchell to chat all things opening and get the creative details…

How long does the design process take for your alternative worlds, from initial concept to build?

It takes months and months! It starts with research into the concept of what we want to achieve, looking into key themes and understanding how that translates into the audience’s journey. From that point, we build out the experience with mood boards and concept sketches, then from this point it’s into 3D design either in-house or with external artists/designers and then technical build drawings come from there.

It’s a huge, long, collaborative process that is part nightmare and part absolutely wonderful.

What kind of sources do you look to for creative inspiration when fleshing out the details and of the storylines and building new ones?

When looking for creative inspiration, I guess we start with what’s relevant to where we are within ourselves and what we are passionate about, otherwise we’d be building something we don’t fully understand. The first installation ‘The Dream Factory’ was more about the environment and external factors, the OUTERverse is more about the mind, and just the brilliance of it.

Some years ago I spent a bit of time in the Amazon with a tribe there and some of their teachings have influenced the core concept of this installation, but there are so many factors that influence us, from so many people being involved. We all play with unbounded creativity, fuse it with lots of surreal silliness and see where that goes. If we can bring in messages and inspire some people along the way, then that’s really great as well. Ultimately, it’s about building on the values and missions of the organisation and what we want to achieve externally and then really reach for that.

Are you able to share any insight into the the build, for instance, how many local creatives and craftspeople have helped and visitor numbers so far?

Wake The Tiger is all about community and collaboration. We have the most amazing team of people that cover every possible element of the build, it’s in the 100s I think. We’ve been open about a year and a half and had over 300,000 visitors come through the doors. It’s blown us away, and now that The OUTERverse is here, I have no idea where this will go, but we are all totally buzzing.

Are there details of any special events you’re able to share and how that experience differs from the original walkthrough?

We host quarterly parties in line with the celestial calendar which creates a safe space for self-expression. I’m not massively involved in them but the team pulls together the most incredible music, circus and theatre to bring it all to life. They’re absolutely wicked parties! The next event is our Spring Equinox celebration, Meridian Soluna, which is taking place on Friday 22 March, so get your outfits ready!

There are After Hours events every other Friday evening which are adult-only sessions, allowing exploration of the experience at a slower pace and an opportunity to grab food and drink afterwards in The Guildhall Café.

Tell us more about how you’ve built on the current experience and what visitors can expect.

When it comes to The OUTERverse, we’re looking far beyond anything that we have ever done before. We have definitely stepped out of our comfort zone and taken risks when it comes to the artistic style of the new spaces.

We’ve added 1,000 sq.ft to the current experience, and built across multiple levels. We invited the artists to be creative where possible through feelings and what comes to them first rather than thinking about it too much which has produced something beyond what any of us would imagine.

Sustainability is a massive focus for us, so where we were able to, we’ve sourced and built aspects of the OUTERverse with recycled materials. You can’t beat raiding scrap stores and car boot sales, and just figuring out new ways of building and giving new life to old materials.

How does Wake The Tiger relate to Bristol’s identity as a creative city?

Everything that we’ve done plays into Bristol’s creative identity, playing into the rawness, mixed with a bit of punk and the alternative scene that is Bristol yet with that fun, expressive, anything goes side. Also, Bristol’s creativity is loud and in your face… and so is Wake The Tiger.

That is one of the reasons why this expansion ended up being called OUTERverse – because Bristol really is the out-there-verse in terms of its forward thinking.


Images courtesy of Sarah Records.