The Man in the Middle

Participants during the workshops

This exhibition has concluded.

Inspired by the artwork ‘Digmoor’ and ‘Map of an Englishman’, by the internationally acclaimed artist Grayson Perry, a new project 'The Man in the Middle' looks at what is currently at the forefront of the Worcestershire mans’ mind.

In response to the Grayson Perry exhibition, by international artist well known for chronicling modern live, a collective of Worcester based artists will be showcasing new art works including installations, performance and film at the National Trust Croome from 25 May.

The project entitled ‘The Man in the Middle’ focusses on two of the Grayson Perry artworks - Digmoor and Map of an Englishman currently on display in the historic house.

Two of the 'Man in the Middle' installations
two installations for man in the middle in the long gallery
Two of the 'Man in the Middle' installations

The artists, Steve Wilson, Sarah Edward and Nicola Prestage have been considering  the concept of ‘What is Worcester(shire) man’, running workshops and performances with men of all ages in Worcestershire.  The workshops were based on themes from Perry's original work; namely mental health, class, territory and masculinity; the team worked with both urban and rural communities. The workshops culminated with a visit from workshop attendees from Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company.  

" I have found the workshops interesting, entertaining, enlightening yet at times sobering.."
Visitors experiencing 'Man in the Middle'
Croome visitors in the MITM installation
Visitors experiencing 'Man in the Middle'

Steve Wilson, Creative Practitioner said. “To work at Croome is a fantastic opportunity for myself and my creative team. We are so excited to give our Worcestershire take on the themes of Grayson Perry’s work.”

‘The Man in the Middle’ will consists of five sheds, a concept inspired by Perry, and a series of short films focused on what it’s like to be a modern day man living in Worcestershire.

Visual Artist Sarah Edwards said. “This project has been incredibly interesting , surprising and rewarding in equal parts.  I chose to use sheds because they are something consistent in our culture and timeline of life. As children we make dens or tree houses, as adults we have workshops, sheds or 'man caves' (a place that's just ours to escape the world).  The structures have  plain white exteriors almost ghost like.  The interior of the sheds are based on the way the participants felt when faced with different topics of discussion emotion, violence, nostalgia, aggression and what it is to actually be a man living in 2019? It was interesting to see how closely linked these topics could be and the overspill between them.  I have turned these findings into interactive artwork inviting the viewer to engage in their own way throughout the exhibition.”

Visual artist Sarah Edwards
Croome visual artist Sarah Edwards
Visual artist Sarah Edwards

As part of the project Steve worked with a men’s group who attend Probation services and, for many, it was the first time they had undertaken an arts project.

Polly Rimoncelli, Senior Probation Officer, Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company said. “The overarching response from the men was that they didn't expect to have the significant emotional response to the tapestries that they found that they had. Hearing their own views and opinions moved them, especially the content around domestic violence, creating discussions around their experience of violence and abuse within the family which were thought provoking for the men.”

The short films that feature as part of ‘The Man in the Middle’ installation will enable visitors to see the participants during some of the workshops depicting how the ideas were developed .

A visitor experiencing one of the installations
visitor in one of the man in the middle exhibitions
A visitor experiencing one of the installations

In June, as part of the project, visitors will be able to see a live performance by Steve Wilson.  The audience will be invited to follow Steve as he moves around the artworks, telling the story of the project.  The performance will tell the story of the project through narration, poetry, song and dance. Audiences will get the chance to see the existing art work by his collaborators Sarah Edwards and the films by Nicky Prestage.

‘The Man in the Middle’ is now on display until 30 June with the live performances taking place on 15, 16 and 22 June at 12pm and 2.30pm.

'The Man in the Middle'
Man in the middle performance at croome
'The Man in the Middle'

Steve said. “I hope people will come and see both the live performance alongside the sheds and films. The performance lasts approximately 45 minutes and involves walking around the site. The performances will be suitable for all but will at times address themes relating to mental health and aggression.”

The Man in the Middle
The Man in the Middle
The Man in the Middle

Man In The Middle is delivered by Steve Wilson with Sarah Edwards, Lee Farley and Nicola Prestige in association with Croome National Trust.  Supported using public funding by Arts Council England, working in partnership with Severn Arts, Worcestershire County Council, and Croome National Trust.