Palace Intrusions was a year-long public arts project produced by Artmusic. It was curated by composer Helen Ottaway and performance artist Melanie Thompson. The project took take place in Wells, Somerset, with monthly events and arts interventions, called Benchmarks, beginning in October 2007 and culminating in a spectacular site-specific performance in the Bishop’s Palace gardens in September 2008.
The ideas for the Palace Intrusions project have come out of a developing collaboration between composer Helen Ottaway and performer Melanie Thompson. These ideas have coalesced to become a theme of “Inside and Outside’”, reflecting the walled environment of the Bishop’s Palace boundaries. This theme will be given life by national and international artists throughout the year, working in and with the City of Wells and its population, as well as with the wider community of Mendip.
All events were free and many were participatory, involving the general public of all ages, local schools and community groups.
Each month – starting October 2007 an event occured around or on one of the benches that stand looking at the palace and moat and surrounding countryside. There were 12 events in all, involving local and visiting . Helen Ottaway and Melanie Thompson curated each event, through advance planning and hands on collaboration. Each Benchmark presentation was a response to – where we choose to sit, what we see and what goes on around us. The benches themselves were used as a platform for the presentation of something live or sculptural. The final Benchmark was an exhibition in the Bishop’s Palace gallery throughout the month of September 2008. The Benchmarks tookmany forms – performance, dance, sculpture, live art, sonic walks, lectures, banquets, photography and much more.
The second Benchmark took place from the 19th to 25th November and was a collaboration between artist Jane Hazelwood and performer Melanie Thompson.The artists’ collaborative relationship started in 2000, with Scallop – a residency in a Somerset Pilgrim’s village. The new work focused on the relationship between landscape, sculptural form and the body. The piece addressed issues of home and homelessness, permanence and transience.
Many of the artists and members of the local community involved in the monthly Benchmarks were also be involved in phase 2 – the final celebratory event in September 2008.
Phase 2 – The Performance – Palace Intrusions
26th /27th/28th September 2008
Palace Intrusions performance was a culmination of the year’s work. Some of the relationships forged during the Benchmarkswere developed and the resulting collaborations contributed towards the final multimedia event. The performance took the form of a journey through and around the palace grounds over three evenings.
See the Palace Intrusions website for up-to-date information.