Behind the scenes at YSP with Mark Chesman, head of estates and projects
By Mark Chesman, head of estates and projects:
I actually started out at YSP as a volunteer. I worked alongside members of staff in the estates team, two days a week, gaining vital practical experience in grounds, landscape and conservation principles to complement my degree. This led to some fantastic opportunities in the sector but I couldn’t resist the call and returned home to Yorkshire in 2005 to work as a landscape co-ordinator for YSP.
What’s your role at YSP?
Currently I am head of estates and projects, I work as part of a fantastic team committed to grounds care, presentation of sculpture, landscape restoration, heritage and environmental conservation. I also co-ordinate projects that require a combination of skills from YSP staff and external professionals to complete. Funding is often sought for these projects and we work closely with our partners and stakeholders on delivery and ensuring we share the positive impact these projects have on our charity and our visitors.
Do you have a typical day?
For me there is no typical day at YSP, even after all this time I am constantly astounded at what my role requires of me and the team. New challenges, new opportunities and exciting moments, all of which require something new to learn.
What makes YSP such a unique place to work?
The sheer scale of ambition to share something incredible with our audience always amazes me. We try, and hopefully succeed, in doing this in so many ways, not purely through the arts but through the YSP experience as a whole.
YSP is famed for its artwork but what do you think are its more hidden treasures?
The estate YSP manages is an eighteenth-century designed landscape, and as such is varied in nature. The lakes, woodlands, parkland, river and gardens are home to a wide variety of wildlife. No need for specialist equipment or experience, wildlife can be seen and enjoyed year round.
Do you have a favourite work or place at YSP?
One of the best elements of my role is that I get to be out and about for a portion of my week. I tend to walk between jobs and this usually requires me to cross one of our historic bridges at YSP. I always pause, lean on the railings, and keep my fingers crossed in the hope of seeing our resident Kingfisher darting up (or down) the River Dearne.
Can you tell us a little-known fact or story about YSP?
YSP began in 1977 with a grant of £1,000. We now manage over 500 acres and display world class sculpture throughout the estate and several award-winning indoor galleries.
If you could swap jobs for one, who would you swap with and why?
Astronaut Tim Peak (whilst on the International Space Station), just for the view…
Apart from YSP, what is your other favourite Yorkshire attraction?
The Piece Hall in Halifax, I have been lucky enough to experience some amazing summer evenings listening to my favourite bands.