A visitor to Preston Manor is confronted by a house full of posh bric-a-brac, with a vague reputation for ghost sightings. The house is presented as a museum version of a family home. Rooms that were once private are now galleries and personal effects have become display objects, laid out to suggest the narrative of a wealthy family.
I told the story of the house with my customary lack of reverence. I exposed some dirty linen and debunked the artifice of the museum. I replaced the information video at the house with a new subversive version of my own, the character of Ellen Stanford, Lady of the Manor, voiced by Carry On femme fatale, Fenella Fielding. I spoke of their many dogs, giving names and dates, their details recorded and celebrated whilst the servants were left anonymous and forgotten. There was a video of the current staff talking about their experiences of ghosts in the building. The final act (or insult, some would say) was a video of my dog Maisie running about Preston Manor, a joyous evocation of the spirit that must once have been there, long ago.
Generally well received, but the Brighton Festival message boards received quite a few complaints, mostly, I believe, signed 'disgusted, of Hove'. I think the dog was a step too far for them.
the contents of a house
Preston Manor, Brighton Festival, 2013