Basic Radio Anatomy: The Sound of Spencer Mansion

Show: Culture with Robert Bound
Episode: 320 – Make a house a gallery
Broadcaster: Monocle Radio 24, London, England
Original broadcast date: November 27, 2017

Around the third week of November the producers of Culture were searching the world for a unique art gallery that is based in a home and they dropped me a line to see if I had any ideas.

There are a number of these houses/mansions in Victoria and I considered several ideas with help from some friends. After narrowing down possibilities (about an hour of research), the most easily accessible, The Spencer Mansion at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, also had an intriguing history “built on gold dust” (Robert Ratcliffe Taylor’s The Spencer Mansion: a House, a Home, and an Art Gallery). Originally named Gyppeswyk — the Old-English name for the Suffolk town of Ipswich, their English home — it was constructed on the proceeds of the Australian and American Gold Rushes of the 1800s.

I won’t ruin the rest of the story that comes out in the extended interview, but the mansion was donated to the citizens of Victoria by Sara Spencer. One part that had to be cut in both interviews, but is a nice little detail, is that the BC Government rented the mansion in the early 1900s to house consecutive Lieutenant Governors after a fire in Government House.

One of the aims of the AGGV is to use the Mansion and not turn it into something people can only look at. As if to underline this vision, I arrived to gather some room sound and a busy Winter Market was in full swing. Victoria duo Ocie Elliott was playing that night, and I ended up using a song of theirs to open the extended interview. Thanks very much to them for letting me use it. The music, mixed with the din of the crowd, high ceilings and wood paneling really brings the Mansion alive.

The next morning I interviewed the soft-spoken Chief Curator of the AGGV, Michelle Jacques. We visited every room, talking about the on-going history of this Italianate villa. We ended our chat out back of the Mansion where a unique Shinto Shrine and Japanese Garden are set. Michelle describes them both beautifully and I love the birds in the background. Very “fall in Victoria.”

It was a fascinating visit and the bonus interview is well worth listening to for those extra tidbits that had to be cut from the broadcast version.

Total production time: 9.25 hours
Number of emails to organize: 33
Visits to the AGGV: 2
Revisions to this post: 43

Listen to the broadcast segment (4:00 listen: begins at 12:50)

Listen to the Editor’s Cut (12:30 listen)

Photos © Darin Steinkey

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