Susan Mason, Regional Learning and Interpretation Officer, National Trust (Wales)
The intended scope of my work was to examine a selection of family portraits at Plas Newydd in Anglesey dating from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries, which represent a range of social contexts and different styles of portraiture. These paintings have been underutilised in the past, and I felt the visitor interpretation could be improved and an associated learning programme, such as a ‘portrait trail’, devised. I found the opportunity for such research invaluable and it has given me ideas for future research topics. The knowledge I have acquired of certain painters and sitters and the potential for using this across properties in the region has already been very useful to me. Not only has this increased my range of expertise, but has allowed me to work with others to start to explore the potential of using portraits to tell stories. I found the opportunity to spend so much uninterrupted time on research invaluable; this allowed me to develop the research and follow other links which emerged during the research. It also allowed be to get some idea of the wider context of the families and painters. Plas Newydd is undergoing a change in its presentation/story development and my research findings are helping to shape our new visitor interpretation.