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palace intrusions - benchmarks

summary of project 2007 - 2008


(move cursor over benches and click for info on each benchmark event)
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  Benchmark 7  -  21st to 27th July 2008
'Message in a Bottle' - experiments in pinhole photography by Fiona Haser

                                                                    photo: Helen Ottaway

click on image for photo album


Pinhole photographer Fiona Haser spent a week as Palace Intrusions artist in residence, working in the Bishop's Palace Gardens and around the public areas of Palace Green and the moat. She was assisted by two photography students: Alma Haser and Reuben Brown. They set up a portable darkroom in a tent and using a variety of home made pinhole cameras, recorded scenes and activity throughout the week. On 26th and 27th July 2008 the darkroom and photography equipment was set up on Palace Green for a weekend of public participation. During the weekend people were invited to create their own underwater photographs using Fiona's bottle cameras, to have their portraits taken in the 360-degree donut camera and to witness Fiona and her team creating giant landscape photographs using a huge box camera.

For photos of the large pinhole photographs see 'Exhibitions'.


Fiona Haser reports on her week as Palace Intrusions 'artist in residence'

We had a week to work in the Bishop's Palace and its environs, experimenting with our homemade pinhole cameras. We made the cameras from plastic juice bottles that we adapted with plenty of black tape to make them light proof. We added a tiny pinhole to the side of the bottle, and experimented with floating them on the moat.

We asked groups of people to join in and help us float our bottle cameras on the moat. We had expected the cameras to be carried along by the motion of the water, but on the day of the event the water was particularly calm and still. Instead we gave each participant a bamboo pole with which they could dabble in the water and get the camera to move.

As the bottle cameras moved in the water, the light of the sun was literally drawing on the photographic paper inside them. The resulting images were captured as paper negatives, which we then scanned and imported into our computer, turning them into positive images. Collectively these are the 'Message in the Bottle'.


Visitors' comments

"I loved this experience - so innocent and nostalgic - quite magical" (J.C.C.)

"We loved twizzling bottles in the moat - looking forward to seeing the results in the Museum" (K.B.)

"Great activity for a sunny day" (R.R.)

"Wonderful work and timeless quality of photography" (M.K., Wells)


Fiona Haser studied at Bath Academy of Arts and Brighton Art College. She works in a wide variety of media producing large scale and miniature installations and sculpture, collage and photography. Her work has been shown internationally including several solo and group exhibitions in Germany (1993–9) and London (Whitechapel Open 1993). From 1996-8 she was the artistic director of BOAMAD (Bradford on Avon Music Art and Drama) and as a member of Art Spark she has led several community arts projects in Wiltshire. Her recent work has been an exploration of pinhole photography. Examples of this work appeared in one of the Books of Trees as part of Salisbury Festival’s major arts project In Praise of Trees (May/June 2002) and featured in an exhibition to launch a new gallery in Bradford on Avon (September 2002). Until 2007 Fiona was director of Ale & Porter Arts in Bradford on Avon, curating regular and successful exhibitions and hosting performances and education events. She is currently exhibition programmer at the New Brewery Arts Centre in Cirencester.


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  Benchmark 8  -  14th to 17th August 2008
'You Can't Exhale Now' by dance performance company Stacked Wonky

                                                                                                                                          photo: Paul Roylance

click on image for photo album


‘You can’t exhale now’ comprised of six miniature performances by four men spanning four generations. The performances happened at different times each day, each one exploring another part of the moat path and the changing dynamics between the dancers and the musician, growing in length from 5 mins to 20 mins in duration.

Director /choreographer
Sarah Shorten

Gerard Bell
Matthew Robinson
Ben Wisken

James Walden


Benchmark Diary by Melanie Thompson

What was so exciting about Stacked Wonky’s residency this August in Wells was that the public not only got to see 6 developing site-specific performances over 4 days but also the creating and rehearsal process as well.

An ace drummer (who could also move beautifully) joined the 3 dancers ranging in ages between 14 and 50. Each day they left the Bishop's Barn, where they warmed up and warmed down, and with cheographer director Sarah they explored the possibilities of their assigned site, the benches and moat running around Wells Palace. People eating their sandwiches or walking their dogs would find themselves within a rehearsal and then later people taking a walk to the local playground or tourists exploring Wells would find themselves in a mini performance.

"What is this?" quite a few people asked me, because the form of very visual, site based contemporary dance was new to them. But once James started playing his drum set and the energy quickened and colored balls exploded into the moat they realized that it did not matter what it was, it was exciting, different and they were part of it!

Fosse Way Magazine (5th September 2008) - one of a series of essays published throughout the year.

Sarah Shorten is artistic director of Stacked Wonky Dance Company. She also works as an independent choreographer and dancer specialising in site-specific performance. What Time Out calls her “anarchic and exuberant” approach and expertise in the manipulation of audience viewing habits has led to critically acclaimed works for Stacked Wonky. Her interest in collaboration with artists and organisations working across the arts and willingness to experiment with dance in new settings has led to various opportunities.


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  Benchmark 9  -  25th to 31st August 2008
Two new works by Hernani COR and Ingrid AR

In the middle of the summer, Palace Intrusions acquired a continental flavour with two new works by Portuguese performance artist Hernani COR and French food artist Ingrid AR. We had asked the pair to create two installation / performances: one outdoors and one indoors, reflecting the overall theme of inside and outside.


‘Could you eat the English Flag?’

26th August 2008, Palace Green, Wells, 12.00 - 5.00pm

photo: paul roylance

click on image for photo album

In their first piece, Hernani and Ingrid responded to the quintessentially English setting of the Bishop’s Palace, Palace Green and the moat with a question: ‘Could you eat the English Flag?’. Would it be a challenge for the people of Wells? Would we think much about it? They laid out two tables: Ingrid’s completely filled with a large St. George’s cross made up of sugar and strawberries while Hernani painstakingly created miniature sandwiches in the shape of the flag, using white bread, crab sticks, red pepper, ketchup and mayonnaise. They then set about charming locals and visitors alike, drawing them into their surrealist picnic with disarming ease. There was a steady trickle of visitors to the tables and gradually the food was consumed revealing real English flags underneath. Perhaps Hernani and Ingrid discovered that the English will eat their flag without flinching - certainly the people tucking into the treats on offer didn’t seem to be troubled. It was a visual delight as well as a culinary one with the two artists beautifully dressed in red and white.



28th August 2008, Garden Room, Swan Hotel, Wells, 8.00 - 10.00pm

photo: paul roylance

click on image for photo album

When we first started talking to Hernani and Ingrid about their residency they were very clear that they would like to do an event in a hotel/restaurant in collaboration with a chef. So back in March 2008 on a very wet day they visited Wells to meet Natasha (Marketing Manager) and Paul (Chef) of the Swan Hotel. From this meeting we brokered a very warm and creative relationship that developed and supported the success of their performance event, ‘Black/White’.

When the night arrived, it was warm and dry. The event was due to happen in the hotel’s restaurant and adjoining courtyard; all the invitations had been sent out (100 in total) and we had spent the last few days doing the final preparations, but we were still not absolutely sure what was going to happen. Guests arrived in either all black or white as requested on the invitation and the bar was open. Then slowly Hernani dressed in white began to call numbers out (we had all been given one when we arrived) and some people took their seats at set tables. The rest of us watched as Ingrid, dressed all in black, served her guests a selection of unknown black food and Hernani served his guests white food. Music was played on a vintage record player, other strange objects appeared on the tables. The invited participants had to cope with unusual portions and different sized bowls, plates and cutlery. The whole performance was recorded through live video which was simultaneously projected on the wall of the restaurant.

An atmosphere of playfulness filled the two spaces. And then as suddenly as it started it stopped and Hernani was giving a speech about bringing black and white together and thanking Paul and Natasha for their enthusiastic collaboration.

Preview - Hernani COR & Ingrid AR: Palace Intrusions in Venue No. 831 – 22-31st August 2008

'In my experience, you don't come across a lot of black and white food. A bit of caviar, perhaps, along with a nice piece of fish. Well, French performance artist Hernani COR and Portuguese food artist Ingrid AR will be demonstrating the possibilities of monochrome nosh at a rather special event which they describe as “a video performance realised live and projected instantaneously in situ”. One of the benchmarks in Well's Palace Intrusions series, instigated by Artmusic, ‘Black/White’ will be performed in the Courtyard Garden of the Swan Hotel in front of an 'invited' audience of 100, all of whom will be asked to come dressed entirely in black or white. The event is free, but anyone who'd like to go along should contact organisers Artmusic. If you can't bag a place for the Swan event, earlier in the week the duo will be appearing on Palace Green itself in another participatory site specific creation, ‘Could you eat the British flag?’. Probably not – I think I'd rather give the colourless cuisine a shot – but it should certainly be worth going along to take a look.'

Lesley Barnes


Hernani Cor

painter / video / action / performer
Has created over 50 action/ performance works since 1986
Teaches Applied Arts since 1979
1981 - Studies at St. Charles, Controls Aesthetic, Cinema,Paris.
1980 - Diploma Of Architecture D.P.L.G. - UP6 - Paris.
1974 - Higher diploma of Visual arts: painting - Beaux Arts - Paris.

Hernani COR & Ingrid AR: started working together in 1988.

From 2003, they began a series of culinary/banquet video-actions and video-performances, entitled ‘Transfert’ during which they invite the public to explore another way of sharing food. Each banquet has a dominant colour (green, orange, blue, black, white)


This event was produced in collaboration with the Swan Hotel, Wells


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  Benchmark 10  - 1st to 30th September 2008
'ReMark' by Kirsten Lavers

                                       photo: Paul Roylance / Kirsten Lavers

click on image for photo album

“Whenever I sit on a bench I wonder about the person whose life is marked there.”

“Who are the people whose lives are marked on the Moat Path benches? What do you know or imagine about them?

When first asked to do this commission Kirsten was clear that she wanted to work with all the actual benches. Over the months it became clearer that the work had something to do with the plaques and their stories as much as the benches themselves. Once we had decided that a major part of the commission was about the actual removal of the plaques a long and complicated procedure began trying to track down the institution or individual that would give their permission. It took about over 2 months and once we had been given permission the enormity of the work entailed to realize the full potential of the idea really sunk in.

The first stage involved the actual removal of each of the 43 plaques. This was not easy; some had been there for over 30 years and were covered in layers of paint.

Then stage two was cleaning and polishing all the plaques. We did this over a 3 day period, some of them were cleaned publicly but most through the night. This was so they were ready to be exhibited in the local museum alongside folders with developing information about each plaque that was coming in daily from the web site and in response to newspaper articles.

Stage three was Kirsten creating an individual textual response to each bench with new plaques and then screwing them on to each in place of the old ones to remain there for a month. Throughout September we watched visitors and locals alike reading each new plaque with curiosity and fascination. We had only one complaint through the whole period.

The fourth and final phase was taking down the handmade plaques and replacing them with the newly cleaned and polished old ones.



'Artist to breathe life into plaques'

(Preview by Oliver Hulme)


The silent memories that emblazon the benches around the Bishop's Moat in Wells will have some temporary additions next month.

Artist Kirsten Lavers' new work 'ReMark' wil bring renewed attention to the Moat Path bench plaques through the simple act of removing, restoring, and exhibiting them together in Wells Museum as part of the ongoing Palace Intrusions Exhibition.

New texts created after conversations with the visitors and residents of Wells will temporarily take their place on the benches themselves.

Kirsten said: "On my first visit to Wells I was immediately drawn to the bench plaques.

"The plaques on the Moat Path benches are faded, weathered and splashed by paint. Almost all of them mark the life of a particular person. Who are they? Why did Pete Cruz Jacinto of the Philippine Islands present a plaque in 1966? Who is OMR? or SKJ? What does the code G3GZA mean and why does it appear on two different benches?

"I was surprised to learn that absolutely no written records exist of who they were ordered by or why. The plaques tantalise me and I want to know more, I want to imagine more."

Using the information she has gathered Kirsten will create 43 temporary alternative plaques for the benches. The original restored plaques will be returned to the benches at the end of September. All the information gathered about them will be collated into an archive bookwork.

Kirsten would like to hear from anyone who knows about the names on the plaques and is inviting visitors to contribute their knowledge, memories and stories of the people the commemorate. She will be on Palace Green on September 1 and 2 from 2pm to 5pm.

Information can also be added to an archive held at Wells Museum in September or by visiting www.palaceintrusions.org.uk and clicking on the 'news' link. You can also email Kirsten at kirsten@palaceintrusions.org.uk.


Wells Journal, 28th August 2008


Kirsten Lavers is a former nurse, practising as an artist since 1991. She now prefers to define herself as a ‘care-taker’ – a term she considers more useful as a way to describe her approach to process, site/context and conversations with participants, collaborators and audience. Her practice is rooted in a history of object based and context specific installation/performance including a body of work addressing the issue of homelessness. Her work is increasingly involving curatorial strategies, found/generated text and new media including video, sound, digital photography and broadcast technologies.


click here for Kirsten Lavers' personal summary of this work


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  Benchmark 11  -  18th - 20th September 2008

'Plainsong' - vocal compositions and performances by Melanie Pappenheim


photo: paul roylance

click on image for photo album

The final Palace Intrusions artist’s residency, in a year of public and participatory art around the outside of the Bishop’s Palace, featured acclaimed singer and composer, Melanie Pappenheim. Melanie sang at dusk around Palace Green and the Moat Path on the 18th, 19th and 20th September. On Thursday 18th September she performed alone as a single ghostly presence around the moat. On Friday 19th she was joined by Frome singer Caroline Radcliffe to perform a series of duets. On Saturday a small choir sang newly created choral music.


Melanie Pappenheim, Caroline Radcliffe, Alicia Little, Nikki Lewis, Emily Gerard, Anna Garrett, Josie Garrett, Sophie Herbert

On Saturday 20th September the dusk performance was preceded by a half day workshop. Melanie worked with a group of local singers on music she had created for the site and on pieces which would feature in the Palace Intrusions Finale the following week. These included a ‘Walking Song’ and a ‘Circle Song’ both of which were performed on Palace Green on 20th September and again inside the Bishop’s Palace Gardens as part of the Finale.

‘Ave Maris Stella’: a plainchant dating from around the time that the first Bishop’s Palace was built on the site in Wells, was performed each evening first by Melanie alone and then with the other singers. It also played a central role in the Palace Intrusions Finale.





‘Inside’, Melanie’s new vocal composition with words commissioned from Adey Grummet, was inspired by the prison tower on the corner of the Palace battlements and by the Palace Intrusions theme of inside and outside. Melanie performed this each evening from the landing stage opposite the prison tower and also one early morning, inside the Palace grounds, filmed by Bronwen Bradshaw.


I am inside ...
and I dream out through the windows,
the eyes of my eyrie,
and I fly out through the arrow slits,
loft through the lancets.
Beyond this rounded shell, this cell,
is all eternity
and I am inside it.
I am inside.
I am inside ...
and I dream out through my eyes,
the windows for my spirit,
and I fly out on my very breath,
singing out my soul.
Beyond this fleshly form, earth-born,
is all eternity
and I am inside it.
I am inside.

© Adey Grummet, August 2008

The performance of solo and ensemble vocal music by the moat at dusk was exquisite, delicate and very moving. The evenings were very still and people stopped in the middle of their journeys around the moat path, transfixed by the beauty and tranquillity of the moment. These last benchmark performances with their focus on the human voice on the air in that place encapsulated our vision of the ‘benchmark’ - perfect moments captured by people’s presence and attention.


Melanie Pappenheim specialises in combining music with visual art and has worked with many leading multimedia groups including Lumiere & Son Theatre Co, DV8 Physical Theatre, The Shout and 3 or 4 Composers of which she was a founder member. She has sung with many contemporary music groups (Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, Apartment House, Icebreaker) and has performed for Glyndebourne, The National Theatre and The Royal Exchange in Manchester. Her voice can be heard on films by Derek Jarman, Martin Scorcese and Stanley Kubrick, and TV series including Prime Suspect and many episodes of Dr Who.

Melanie has composed music for radio drama including two series for BBC Radio 4. Other commissions include Reading Arts (sound installation for the Forbury Gardens, 2006). She has devised work with Helen Chadwick (HOME, Opera Genesis, Royal Opera House, 2006), and fellow Shout member Rebecca Askew (FLAM). Melanie has worked on several Artmusic productions. Her voice is central to Helen Ottaway and Alastair Goolden's sound sculpture 'Thin Air' which has been installed in numerous Cathedrals and large religious buildings across the UK and abroad.


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Palace Intrusions Finale  -  26th, 27th & 28th September 2008

A multi-media promenade performance in the Bishop's Palace Gardens, Wells

photo: Paul Roylance

click on image for more photos

As the title ‘Palace Intrusions’ implies, it was our intention right from the beginning of the project that at the end we would enter the grounds of the Bishop’s Palace. We also wanted this to be a celebration of all aspects of the project throughout the year. We invited Bronwen Bradshaw, who had documented the whole project, to create a short film that would remind people of the benchmark events; this film became an integral part of the final performance.

The promenade form was an ideal way for the audience to explore the gardens in a new and creative way and for us to interweave moments from guest performers. This performance in the form of a journey also referred back to Benchmark 3 which was a journey around the outside of the walls: the theme of inside and outside expressed as a structural device across the span of the project.

We wanted very much to find the balance between a high level of performance and a chance for young people and amateurs to work alongside professionals. The highlight of the evening for a lot of people was the relationship between the choir and the orchestra and the local Wells free running group, two groups of performers who very rarely meet, let alone create a work together.

We were very keen to continue the welcoming and inclusive mood, established by the Benchmark installations and performances. We invited people to gather on Palace Green to join the procession across the drawbridge into the Palace Grounds. As the audience gathered they were offered a hot apple drink, especially prepared by local busines, Georgie’s Plaice.


Performance Credits

Palace Intrusions Finale was devised and directed by Melanie Thompson and Helen Ottaway


Music Helen Ottaway & Melanie Pappenheim
Choreography Melanie Thompson
Film Bronwen Bradshaw
Conductors Hywel Jenkins (Friday)
Charles Hazlewood (Saturday)
Stephen Marquiss (Sunday)
Soloists Keith Donoghue, countertenor (Friday, Saturday)
John Plaxton, trumpet (Sunday)
Violins Lucy Ehrlicher, Flora Macdonald
Madeleine Herbert
Cellos Kit Denison, Ben Macfadyen
Boris Thompson-Roylance
Drummers Luke Emery, Connor Frapwell
Voices Alicia Little (leader), Kath Cooper, Anna Garrett, Josie Garrett, Megan Henson, Sophie Herbert, Saira Holmes, Annabelle Macfadyen, Bethany Morton
Freerunners Matt Chapman, Toby Goulden, Ben Smith
Jack Thompson-Roylance, Chris White
Coracles Joe Joseph, Rachel Thompson
Trudy Dove, Beth Heatley
Croquet players Palace Croquet Club
Production Manager Geraldine Fairfax-Cholmeley
Technical Assistant Pete Starkey
Production Assistants Tim Payne, Ed Trueman
Dec Gosling, Briana Marsh
Photography Paul Roylance
Video Bronwen Bradshaw
Press & Admin Steve Ehrlicher


The Music

As with the structure, the music for the Finale forms a link between the beginning and end of the project. The main musical material was derived from either Benchmark 3 (the trumpet music for the Christmas promenade around the moat) or Benchmark 11 (Melanie Pappenheim’s vocal performances). As the audience gathered on the Green, Melanie Pappenheim’s voice could be heard through an open window in the Palace singing the plainchant, ‘Ave Maris Stella’. Crossing the drawbridge into the Bishop’s Palace, the audience passed through the choir who echoed the plainchant melody. Over the drawbridge they were met by a vision of croquet players in white. Then guided by the lead artists, they made their way around the gardens, coming across moments of music, performance and story telling; witnessing conductors conjouring their players, following the choir along the ramparts, encountering violinists at the windows, coraclers and free runners in the formal gardens and a counter tenor and a trumpeter on the balcony accompanied by three boy cellists. For the final scene, all the musicians gathered on the lawn to perform the ‘Swan Song’ accompanied by Bronwen Bradshaw’s reminiscent film and the final part of the story.


The stories

The idea of the guide-come-storyteller also started in Benchmark 3 (our short Christmas event outside the Palace). We decided to develop this form for the final promenade event and, at three different points along the route, Melanie told the audience a non-narrative story. Story one and three were poetic reflections on the project itself and story two was the story she had written for Benchmark 3 which was a more conventional research-based fairy tale.

'Stories are all about how you tell them'

It was dusk and a disparate group of people were gathering in the fading autumn light by the moat. A distant voice could be heard singing from the palace, but all that could be seen was a faint light and roosting pigeons.

Memories and ghosts of past events flickered around the water –

A group of easels, a white house on wheels, and five coracles. Speakers on the green, internal sound walks, eating the English flag, and newly discovered truths from the up until then silent benches.

There was a sense of anticipation in the air, slight wind, rustling of leaves, cloud formations shifting and changing, when suddenly two women appeared from the castle carrying a banner between them. The women were dusty and tired from a long journey, they gathered the crowd of people around them and began to explain that the final part of their journey was about finishing the story that they had started exactly a year before outside the palace, but now they were going in ....


'An Unfairy Story'

Once upon a time a long time ago (1337 to be precise) a great banquet was held in the new banqueting hall in the palace behind us.

It was a sumptuous affair; the 268 guests were offered 672 loaves of bread, a whole sheep, half a cow, a duck, chicken, and endless types of fish, bream, hake, pollock and eel as well as 86 pipes of wine and 340 pipes of beer.

Among the guests was a girl; she was the daughter of a musician, a trumpeter. It was now late at night and she had fallen asleep amongst all the remains of the food and drink in front of a huge roaring fire.

She began to dream -

She was outside the palace flying above it and looking down at where the moat should be.

First she dreamt of prehistoric times when the wooly mammoths and the hyenas and bears and bison would come out of the forests to the natural watering hole which was later to become Wells. She heard the animals whisper to each other a ‘good place to hunt and a good place to be hunted’.

Then she shifted her gaze and she saw the moat was built and it was full of fish, carp, sticklebacks, and on the surface kingfishers. Slowly coming towards her were 2 huge white swans, they went to the wall of the moat and with their beaks and pulled a bell that rang out through the night. Then they turned their gaze upwards and said in clear voices “men are in the water now with lights and we can hear magical sounds follow them, follow them for us."

The girl woke suddenly. She had heard something! Something calling her. The fire had gone out and the banqueting hall was empty except for a few sleeping servants. She tiptoed outside and looked over the battlements at the moat below, all was now silent except for a distant sound which she could not make out…

She then saw 4 coracles disappearing into the darkness, where were they going? could she stop them? She rubbed her eyes, was she still dreaming? She had to find out where they were going, into the future perhaps?

She was surrounded by the smallest city in England and at the start of a great adventure...


‘Palace intruders’

The journey is finished now, only memories are left, like the Northern Lights, flashes of disparate images containing colors and conversations flicker across the sky.

A still place, holding past and future and present in its turrets and towers and battlements.

Yet there are still so many questions.

Do we feel like intruders?

Who are the intruders?

Are we welcome?

What will become of all those memories?

Who will look after them; nurture them, will they just be forgotten?

Or will they become part of the architecture of the palace, the inside and the outside.

An overriding image hangs in the air, of a misty autumn day, smelling of damp leaves and empty benches and water and swans, and water and swans and water and swans.


‘Swan Song’ (named for the Bishop’s swans as well having its traditional meaning) was written by Helen Ottaway, inspired by Melanie Thompson’s final story, and is an arrangement of the original ‘Swan’ music from Benchmark 3. The song was performed by orchestra and choir, joined by the audience at the end of each performance.


Swan Song

Here in the garden, water and shadows
People and landscape threading and weaving
Out on the benches someone is sitting
Holding their memories

Here in the evening, inside and outside
Turrets and towers echoing stories
Out on the benches someone is sitting
Holding their memories

Here in the autumn, swans on the water
Stillness and ripples constantly flowing
Out on the benches someone is sitting
Holding their memories



Visitors' Comments

"Very nicely done" (CLJ, Philadelphia, USA)

"Fascinating pieces in a magical setting" (AH, Wells, Somerset)

"Wow! What an amazing creation! All the performances were enhanced by the surroundings
or perhaps the other way round. Lovely! It makes me want to experience more from
Palace Intrusions. Thank you!"
(S&S, Bristol)

"Congratulations! Great idea." (NG, Spain)

"Incredible performance!!!" (EM, Spain)

"Really moving. Amazing."  (SD)

"Wonderful ideas, beautifully done!" (HF, Frome, Somerset)

"Excellent." (CC, Lancaster)



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Palace Intrusions Exhibitions  -  1st November 2007 to 30th September 2008

A series of exhibitions curated by Melanie Thompson and Helen Ottaway

Wells Museum - November 2007 to September 2008

Bishop's Palace Exhibition Room - 1st to 30th September 2008

click on image for photo album

Before the beginning of the project, a retrospective exhibition of all the benchmarks had been programmed for the Bishops Palace’s exhibition space for the month of September 2008. This exhibition was open for the whole of September 2008 and provided an overview of the whole project including art works from each Benchmark, sound recordings of Speaker’s Green (Benchmark 4) and video of all performances.

During the project, Wells Museum hosted an ongoing exhibition which allowed us to create a response to the benchmarks as they happened.

From November 2007 to March 2008 we created three separate exhibitions in Wells Museum’s lovely huge upstairs galleries. At the end of this period we launched the 2nd phase of the project with a public reception in the galleries.

From June 2008 onwards we installed smaller exhibitions in the museum responding to each Benchmark as we went. Most notable were the exhibitions for Benchmark 7 (Fiona Haser’s ‘Message in a Bottle’) and Benchmark 10 (Kirsten Lavers’ ‘ReMark’). The latter attracted a lot of public comment and debate with many people leaving their stories and responses in the record books at the museum and the collecting box at Waterstone’s Bookshop. A record of Benchmark 10 (ReMark), in the form of an archive book, will become part of the Museum’s permanent collection.

Palace Intrusions also continued to have a presence in the museum with Duncan Speakman’s soundwalk ‘Song for Fifty Hearts’ (Benchmark 5) available to pick up and use from 4th June till the end of September 2008.



Benchmark 1 - Main Gallery, Wells Museum, opened 3rd November 2007

Visitors' comments

"Wonderful to see such a variety of interpretations of a lovely place, blended together. Most enjoyable" (NPB, Batcombe, Somerset)

"Really clever, the way people have co-operated and joined their work onto the next strip" (KM)

"A really enjoyable pause in the day" (SL)

" Happy to see some public participation, looking forward to seeing it progress through the coming year" (KvC, Glastonbury, Somerset)

Benchmark 2 – Main Gallery, Wells Museum, opened 2nd December 2007


"Both inspired and inspiring. I wish I could have seen the events" (MEP, Bristol)

"Great. Thank you." (RGO)

Benchmark 3 - Main Gallery, Wells Museum, opened 7th January 2008

Visitors' comments

"A fascinating project. Keep it up! Next time let's see it inside the palace. Well done!" (JH)

"I really liked the green houses" (ZS, Wells Cathedral Junior School)

"The boats are amazing" (MC, Wells Cathedral Junior School)

"I liked seeing my swan" (AC, Wells Cathedral Junior School)

"Interesting! A lot of hard work, well done." (LM)

"Very Tate Modern" (WR, South Wales)


Retrospective exhibition of Phase 1 (Benchmarks 1 - 3) opened 16th February 2008. Launch of Phase 2 - Main Gallery, Wells Museum, 30th March 2008. Wells Museum hosted Duncan Speakman’s soundwalk, 5th June - 31 September 2008; Ongoing exhibition continued in Wells Museum’s downstairs exhibition space from 10th June 2008; Palace Intrusions was part of Wells Museum’s open day on 12th July 2008.

Visitors' comments

" Interesting exhibition, loved the drawings in Benchmark 2" (VB, Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside)

"The video made me laugh, good fun" (AC)

"Liked the idea" (HMcL, Wellington, New Zealand)

"I think the coracle thing is BRILLIANT / itís very exciting and wholly appropriate that such a venture should be happening here. The artists' collage is a stroke of genius" (A&PW, Wells, Somerset)

"This is what Wells needs! More please!" (CM, Frome, Somerset)

"A great idea, well presented" (A&NW, Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset)

"My favourite bit is Benchmark 1 - I think it's nice to get people involved in art." (SH, Frome, Somerset)

"Lovely exhibition" (KT, Gdansk, Poland)

Fiona Haser, ‘Message in a Bottle’ exhibition of Benchmark 7- downstairs exhibition space, Wells Museum, August 2008.

Kirsten Lavers, ‘ReMark’ exhibition of Benchmark 9 – downstairs exhibition space, Wells museum, September 2008.

‘Benchmarks’, Retrospective Exhibition of whole project – Exhibition Room, Bishop’s Palace, Wells 1st - 30th September 2008

Visitors' comments

"Wonderful" (PC, Sandwich, Kent)

"Very, very interesting" (DM, West Yorkshire)

"Fantastic!" (MC, Queensland, Australia)

"Very relaxing" (N&PW, Hastings, East Sussex)

"Very good and calming" (TS & MCA, Edgbaston)



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