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Get away from it all for two months

Manchester Museum seeks a hermit to lock up in a tower. Who’d you put up there?

Published on January 6th 2009.

Get away from it all for two months

Who would you nominate to be a hermit?

Who would you isolate in a tower above the city for eight weeks? Your worst enemy, your most boring acquaintance: that irritating work college who could do with shutting up and thinking about things a little more?

What about James Blunt, Jeremy Clarkson or Jimmy Carr for instance?

Actually this is a wayward line of enquiry.

The only person you can completely sequester away in Manchester this year is yourself. And you might have to have an artistic bent.

Manchester Museum is seeking an artist-in-residence to live, as a hermit, in its 1880s Gothic tower a hundred feet or so above the bus-bothered Oxford Road.

It’s a tough job too. The application form has this warning: ‘It is important to understand that after the familiarisation period, the commissioned artist will be confined within the museum's tower 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the duration of the residency. He or she will live in the tower, and will be unable to venture into the rest of the city, or indeed into the rest of the museum, during this time.’

Nor can you just contemplate your navel up there. This isn’t a job for slackers.

As the museum says: ‘the hermit will be expected to reflect on topical issues...focusing at the present time on ideas of biodiversity, climate change, sustainability, the future of the planet, all within the context of Manchester's place in the world’.

The museum director, Nick Merriman, backs this up.

“By updating notions of the hermit for a contemporary context, we intend that the Manchester Hermit project will draw attention to some of the major environmental issues facing the planet. We also hope that its unusual nature will engage a wide range of audiences right across the world”.

It won't be solitary confinement though. The artist will be able to reach out to the world and communicate his or her 'experiences to the outside world using whatever format they choose. The artist (can) act as an oracle for the city, communicating with it, and its people, via podcasts, semaphore, the BBC Big Screen and through digital media’.

Forget the semaphore. Given the height at which the artist will be working and the proximity of our feathered friends, Confidential suggests the artist might want to use carrier pigeons.

Anyway this is our plan.

Five weeks in we’re going to distract the poor hermit from all those biodiversity worries: sneak in a Harvey Nichols hamper, make the poor bugger dizzy with delicious foie gras and tip-top booze. Then get some readers into the tower SAS-style down ropes from helicopters. Dancing girls maybe. Have an all-nighter.

It’d be funny to have the Computer Sciences Department down the road calling the police because of the noise. We’re imagining Plod saying, “I don’t care if you’re a bleeding ‘ermit on a bleeding art project, you’re nicked.” The Students Union could get all militant and have banners with 'Free the Hermit', 'Give him back his tower'.

But joking, and improbable reader parties aside, Confidential says well done to Manchester Museum.

This is a great idea and a bit daft which makes it more appealing. If nothing else it will help reveal one of those hidden spaces - some spectacular, some mysterious - with which the city is filled, and which slip past us as we go about our daily rituals.

And hey Mr Merriman, if your hermit wants to use the city’s finest independent and free media (that would be us, of course) to communicate his or her thoughts and ideas then we’re definitely up for it.

Applications to be a hermit have to be in by 19 January 2009: contact David Gelsthorpe on david.gelsthorpe@manchester.ac.uk, (0161) 3061601. The hermitage will be for up to 8 weeks between May and July 2009.

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

scoteeeJanuary 6th 2009.

Just thought it would be nice for you to have a regular roof over your head rather than wandering Piccadilly gardens and popping in and out of the internet cafe with your pound? I don't know, you try to be nice to some poeple and look where it gets you!

DigJanuary 6th 2009.

You don't like Inane, witless rants Rosie? What's up with you? You better stay away from Liverpool Confidential then. Especially some of the conversations with myself & Professor Chucklebutty.

rosieJanuary 6th 2009.

Please don't encourage her.My heart sinks every time I see another of E G's inane,witless rants.She's like a less intelligent Julie Burchill.

Roman I PimpabitchJanuary 6th 2009.


emma graceJanuary 6th 2009.

I'll pay you later Scoteee....:)

emma graceJanuary 6th 2009.

Hello! Happy new year to you too, did you have a good one? Yes I've been rather quiet over the Christmas period...normal service will now resume ;)

Roman I PimpabitchJanuary 6th 2009.

Editorially removed as off topic and unfunny.

emma graceJanuary 6th 2009.

Scoteee, I don't know whether to be flattered that you think I would be the perfect person to take on this challenging and thought provoking task, or offended that you would like to see me shut up in a tower for 2 month TOTALLY cut off from Mancon.....

Matchmaker BaxterJanuary 6th 2009.

Scoteee why don't you ask Emma G to join you up there for the Hermitage....you could do lots of chatting about diversity...horizontally of course.

scoteeeJanuary 6th 2009.

Rosie- you know the lads feelings for MS Grace...jealousy will get you nowhere.Besides witless rants is something we can all be guilty of at times? rosie says..“ Have to agree,Gordo,that the jelly was fairly disgusting.However,I'd got the impression that you were most impressed by the rack of Yorkshire game bird...”I would roll over laughing but after the X-mas dinner piece with Gordo it seemed even your response killed off the whole rant,it was the only one left on there!? just a thought ;@)

viva chris ronald...January 6th 2009.

Happy New Yr Miss Grace, to be honest we were a little shocked on our first day back in the office that you hadnt been put on the pay roll and occupying a desk next to me, obviously your not spending enough time on here!

EsquiloJanuary 6th 2009.

Sounds like the perfect job for St Patrick of Karney. Don't suppose they could make it 6 months?

scoteeeJanuary 6th 2009.


James DeeJanuary 6th 2009.

Great idea, their dessicated corpses would look great alongside Lindow Man. Or the mummys.

scoteeeJanuary 6th 2009.

How very rude of you Baxter...

Roman I PimpabitchJanuary 6th 2009.

Editorially removed

emma graceJanuary 6th 2009.

Aww, nice to see you're still full of the joys rosie :)

emma graceJanuary 6th 2009.

Ah, well in that case I am ever so grateful for your consideration...bless you Scoteee. It's been a cold cold winter :(

Museum watchdogJanuary 6th 2009.

Actually that might work. Then the museum can surround the Celeb BB people with Iron Age montages - Terry Christian as a Celtic warrior fighting off Ulrika as a Nordic invader. Just like Lindow Man is surrounded by things with no connection to him whatever.

Johnny BBJanuary 6th 2009.

Can we wall up the whole cast of half-famous Big Brother in there and then brick it up and take away the cameras? That way we'd just have their desparate faces squashed against the tower windows as they starve. Proper reality. Forget the TV. Liven up the bus journeys along Oxford Road.

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