Packing Up The Museum Inspires Artist Lyndall Phelps

PrintLyndall Phelps: Abundance

News Release from UH Galleries

From 1 August – 20 September 2015 at the Museum of St Albans you can watch a large, intriguing art installation grow over the next 2 months, while the museum’s objects disappear, one-by-one.

UH Galleries, in partnership with St Albans Museums, are pleased to present a unique new artist’s residency at the Museum of St Albans. This marks the museum’s move to its new home in the redeveloped St Albans Town Hall in late 2017.

Artist Lyndall Phelps will work alongside staff and volunteers this summer as they pack and document the collection at the Museum in preparation for the transition to the new site. Lyndall’s engagement in this activity will inspire a new, ambitious artwork for the Museum’s top floor gallery. Starting in early August, Phelps will transform the existing displays into an evolving ‘sculptural installation’. Week by week display areas will be painted out, museum objects removed and new elements introduced. Abundance will culminate in a celebratory event on Sunday 20 September – the last date that the Museum of St Albans will be open to the public.

Over the Museum’s two-year public engagement transition period, Lyndall will continue to bring together visual art and collection objects, with the people of St Albans. A range of community groups will be invited to join a programme of creative activity centred on the Museum’s unique collections and the new building. Finally, in 2017, inspired by her experience of the collections and processes of their transition, Lyndall will create an artwork especially for the new site.

Lyndall Phelps works with a range of media including sculpture, works on paper, photography, multiples, video or sound. These are often combined in installations which are visually rich, deliberately playful, sometimes magical and at times surreal. Her practice, which is strongly process-based, is often an exploration of specific sites or particular contexts. She enjoys investigating an eclectic mix of subjects which often reveal lost, forgotten or hidden narratives.

History, the military, decorative arts and the natural world, particularly birds, are recurring themes and this curiosity and fascination with many disparate things echoes the Museum’s varied collections. Phelps is particularly interested in the former function and social history of museum objects. She endeavours to make these visible again in her work, to encourage people to make links between past and present, and to be curious and intrigued.

Lyndall Phelps said ‘The chance to work in an empty museum, where only the display mechanisms remain, is a unique opportunity for an artist. It allows me to develop ideas that I have tested on a smaller scale in other museums and historic sites’

Annabel Lucas, Collections Manager and Exhibitions Curator at UHGalleries said ‘The Arts Council of England’s decision to support Lyndall’s project with a grant of over £36,000 is testament to its value artistically as well as its potential to engage a large number of new people in the Museum of St Albans exciting collection activities’.

Catherine Newley, Curator of Collections (Post Medieval to Contemporary), Museum of St Albans, said ‘We’re really excited to be working with Lyndall. This will be the first time we’ve opened up our collections and museum building to an artist in this way. We believe it is a unique opportunity to view St Albans’ history in a new light.’

For further press information and images please contact Hazel Foxon ([email protected])

Notes to Editors:

  • Biography: Lyndall Phelps studied Fine Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. She moved to the UK in 1999 and since then has exhibited widely in London and across the country and undertaken many high profile commissions, notably Superposition, an installation in an underground ice well, for the UK Institute of Physics (2014). Lyndall Phelps is based in Cambrideshire. Visit her website
  • Work is underway to raise funds to transform St Albans’ grade II* listed Town Hall, in St Peter’s Street, St Albans into a new museum and art gallery. This will provide a new home for the Museum of St Albans. St Albans City and District Council is working with St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and the University of Hertfordshire Galleries on the project. The St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust (registered charity no 1051868) works to support museums and galleries in the District of St Albans. For further information about the project and the fundraising campaign visit our project pages here.
  • University of Hertfordshire Arts (UH Arts) supports the cultural life of the University and its wider community and encompasses a contemporary visual arts programme, a classical and contemporary record label, the University’s resident classical orchestra, and management of the University’s art collection. UH Galleries, at Hatfield and within the Museum of St Albans, are amongst the most innovative contemporary art spaces in the UK and give artists space to experiment and develop new ideas. Working with emerging and established professional artists across all media, UH Galleries organise a rolling programme of exhibitions and collaborate with other major cultural institutions across Europe. Visit their website
  • St Albans Museums – St Albans City and District Council’s museums service runs Verulamium Museum and the Museum of St Albans as well as the medieval clock tower in the High Street, a field archaeology unit and associated excavations. The Museum of St Albans’ social history collections comprise a wide range of objects relating to the development of St Albans over the centuries, from a market town to the modern city we see today. The museum aims to represent all aspects of local life in the collections. From domestic objects to items of costume or local industry, the museum collects very selectively focusing on objects with a particular connection to St Albans District. For more information, please visit or call 01727 751810.