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A Curious Conversation

Posted on: 1st June 2017 By:

Whilst we are preparing for the new museum and gallery in the centre of St Albans UH Galleries and St Albans Museums have jointly commissioned an Artist in Residence project with funding from Arts Council England.

We are working with artist Lyndall Phelps on a three stage project- stage one was the exhibition Abundance which Lyndall created in the old Museum of St Albans as we moved the collections out. Now for her second stage of her work with us Lyndall has gone back to the origins of the museum for inspiration for A Curious Conversation. Stage three will be an exhibition in the new museum.

Our resident artist, Lyndall Phelps, has created A Curious Conversation, a new pop up museum which is touring locations across St Albans this year.

It had its first outing to the University of Hertfordshire Gallery in May but there are plenty of chances to catch it over the summer and beyond.

Wednesday 21st June 2017 – St Albans Hospital

Thursday 13th July 2017– St Pauls, Fleetville

Saturday 15th July 2017 - Maltings Shopping Centre (outside the library)

Saturday 26th August 2017– St Albans Cathedral, North Transept (under the Rose Window)

Saturday 7th October 2017– St Julians, Cottonmill (as part of Culture in Cottonmill)

You can just drop in and see us at any of the locations and the display will be newly re-curated for each location so you can come and see us more than once if we're in your area! Keep an eye on our website and social media for exact timings.

Lyndall's pop-up museum, A Curious Conversation has its origins in the 1880s, before there was a museum in St Albans at all, when a Conversazione (a nineteenth century pop-up exhibition) was held in the public library. It brought together a range of historical objects, curiosities and works of art from private collections. The exhibition was such a success that it lead to the foundation of what was to become the Museum of St Albans.

Great kindness and liberality were shown on the part of residents in St. Albans and neighbourhood in lending their choicest pictures, relics, books, specimens of architecture, &c.; and as considerable energy was thrown into the whole matter, unqualified success has attended the efforts of the society.
(extract from the Herts Advertiser report on the Conversazione)

A list of the works displayed, and their donors, appeared in the Herts Advertiser; this inspired Lyndall to create her own Conversazione for the twenty first century. She has curated a range of objects from St Albans Museums’ collection, including archaeology, art, natural history and social history, alongside new artwork inspired by her research.

Some of the objects on display here today are similar to the ones that appeared in 1880. One object was even part of the original display 137 years ago. 

If you want to read more about Lyndall's work and the thinking behind the exhibition you can discover more on the UHArts blog, Artists in Conversation:
Lyndall Phelps: Museology

As part of our Artist in Residence project Lyndall has also been supporting two artists who are still in the early stages of their careers. Last year Katy Gillam-Hill presented Rescued Retained Revered inspired by our Salaman Tool collection. She worked with a variety of groups during the summer of 2016 culminating in an exhibition in the Clock Tower. You can read about her work here:
Katy Gillam-Hull: Useful and Useless Objects

This year Abi Spendlove has taken some of the broken objects in our collection for inspiration. She is currently working with members of the public to think about why we keep broken objects and how we talk about them and her final work will be presented in the Clock Tower at the end of September- watch this space!

Photograph by Inna Allen