CLIENT: National Trust
LOCATION: Kingston Lacy, Dorset, UK
ROLE: research, writing, creative direction, narrative design
COLLABORATORS: Professor Richard Sandell, Julie Howell, Lea Nagano, James Jones
This project was delivered working as part of Leicester University's Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG).
In Memoriam is a tribute to the men who were hanged under laws that criminalised same-sex acts during the lifetime of William John Bankes, former owner of Kingston Lacy.
The installation comprises 51 ropes hanging from a 4m-high wooden structure. Each rope represents a different man, with knots tied at different heights to indicate their age. The space is dimly lit, and has downward-facing spotlights to guide the visitors through the ropes. This visitor route allows time for contemplation and reflection. Visitors will gradually understand the significance of the ropes and their connection to William John’s own story and that of Kingston Lacy.
Visitors are free to connect with the ropes both physically and emotionally. A soundscape recalling the names of those that died holds the space, and interpretation panels give more information on who these men were. The last two close-hanging ropes represent John Smith and John Pratt, the last two men to be hanged in the UK for same sex acts.
This powerful installation was the result of rigorous primary research and is underpinned by narrative mapping. It has proven to be a challenging, moving and memorable visitor experience.
In Memoriam was part of ‘EXILE’ at Kingston Lacy, itself part of the National Trust’s Prejudice and Pride programme, in collaboration with the University of Leicester and Stonewall UK. This sought to research, celebrate and challenge representations of LGBTQ lives at National Trust properties.
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