For two months this summer, an artist will live in the Manchester Museum’s Victorian Gothic tower 24/7, reflecting upon biodiversity, climate change, sustainability and the future of the planet. The chosen performance artist, writer, poet, visual artist, sculptor or musician will reside in a set of rooms accessed by a steep, windy spiral stone staircase, which are not normally open to the public, after a short period of intense engagement with the Museum’s collections. The only means of staying in touch with the outside world during the whole secluded residency will be by digital or audiovisual media, such as blogging or video statements.
According to the artist brief, the project presents a “unique opportunity to explore a tradition, with a long history and extending across many cultures, of men and women who made the decision to flee the company of their fellow humans to dwell alone in retirement and total solitude, often living on islands, in caves, or in the desert.”
Thus the urban hermit might be a modern Saint Simeon Stylites the Elder, who lived on top of a pillar for 37 years
a contemporary Saint Jerome in his study
or a reincarnation of the poor poet.
Also (the Manchester Museum houses a natural history collection, after all):