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Artist-in-Residence

Mel Shearsmith1Artist-in-Residence at Woodchester Mansion

Mel Shearsmith is to be Woodchester Mansion’s first artist-in-residence.

Mel is an artist who works with performance, text and video. She works site-specifically, in that her work is primarily responsive to the location she is working with, currently Woodchester Mansion. She trained at Dartington College of Arts in performance and is now working towards a PhD at the University of Worcester exploring ‘Expanding Place’ through performance and writing.

Mel Shearsmith2Mel, who lives in Bristol, first  visited the Mansion last year and, thanks to the inspiration of Volunteer tour guide, Susan Bingham, her positive response to the building was instant. Since then, Mel has discovered the Park as well and has made several visits to Woodchester to absorb the special qualities of both building and park - a particularly brave thing to do given the temperatures both inside and out during the past couple of months.

Mel’s latest visit was about 48 hours before the recent dump of snow made the Mansion all but inaccessible for a week. She met Training Manager Jonny Anderson and Lewis Proudfoot, a Prince’s Foundation student who were working in less than ideal conditions doing restoration work on a buttress in the courtyard. Mel is anxious to experience all aspects of the Mansion and to witness the many and varied activities that happen there, and where better to start than to meet stonemasons working on the building.

Long_roving_meadow_turning,2012Already, Mel has been talking with archivist Liz Davenport about the history of the Mansion, and she plans to investigate local knowledge of the Mansion in an oral history project. She hopes to hear stories and recollections of Woodchester Mansion from local residents - plans which echo the thoughts of some of our Volunteers, who have long held similar aspirations. We hope that with Mel’s initiative some of the Mansion’s Volunteers will come forward to help. Thanks to Liz, we know a fair amount about the Leigh Family and about the history of the estate, but there are considerable gaps in our knowledge about the Mansion as part of the community, and it is this area that Mel is hoping to explore.

We welcome Mel to Woodchester Mansion and wish her well with her studies, and hope that she enjoys her experiences of the Mansion and Park. If you would like to follow Mel’s activities at the Mansion you can do so through her blog  - http://recollectingtraces.wordpress.com//

 - and you can read more of Mel’s work at the following sites.She_lay_as_if_at_play_2010

http://imtryingnottomisseverything.blogspot.com/

http://www.mappingspectraltraces.org//

http://www.placeresearch.co.uk//

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