Artists and artefacts: New exhibition uncovers secrets of museums

Posted by pt91 at Sep 27, 2012 10:45 AM |
PhD students to hold art exhibition at the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies
Artists and artefacts: New exhibition uncovers secrets of museums

Lyndall Phelps, 'Softkill' © Peter Mennim/Lyndall Phelps

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 September 2012

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Stuffed creatures carrying fragile treasures, Victorian-esque “quizzing glasses” and a set of storytelling boxes of relics will feature in a museums-inspired art exhibition.

A group of seven artists from around the UK will exhibit work at Μουσείον: artists’ reflections on museums, an exhibition organised by PhD students at the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies.

The show, which will run from October 1 at the School on University Road, takes its name from the original ‘mouseion’ built in Alexandria, Egypt, over 2000 years ago.

The artists will explore the role and meanings of museum collections and the processes involved in the storage and display of museums’ artefacts.

The show has been curated by Alex Woodall, a PhD Researcher in the School, who has previously worked for Manchester Art Gallery, Museums Sheffield, Renaissance East Midlands and Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge.

Alex, who is now based in Sheffield, said: “I’ve been lucky to work with some inspirational artists throughout my career.  Many of them are intrigued by what goes on in museum stores.  Many challenge the traditional voice of the museum curator.  Instead of telling us what an object is, they invite us to imagine what an object could be.  We are left to make up our own minds.

“Each of these artists invites us to look anew at museums, their objects, collections and processes.  Times are tough for arts and museums, but it is this questioning spirit that makes them absolutely essential in reflecting on how and what we value. And in doing so, we are reflecting on ourselves and on our place within the world.”

Cy Shih, an exhibition planner and designer from Taiwan who is currently studying for a PhD at the School of Museum Studies, has designed the exhibition, and a team of PhD students will work as installation assistants.

Sandra Dudley, Director of Exhibitions and Collections in the School, added: “Our exhibition programme, a recent innovation for the School, provides our students with unique opportunities to develop experimental approaches to display, interpretation and design. We have been thrilled to see how Alex, Cy and the team have collaborated with artists to produce a remarkable exhibition of the highest quality.”

The exhibition will run from October 1 to March 1 at the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies, 19 University Road, Leicester. The exhibition will be open to the public and admission is free.



Pictures of the artists’ work are available – please email:

For more information, please contact Alex Woodall on:

About the artists:

Hazel Jones

Hazel Jones has created a series of obscure gadgets for collectors, including quizzing glasses and “spool lists” – printed paper rolled around a metal tube – which take their inspiration from Mary Greg’s collection of 19th century everyday objects. Hazel is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University on the Interactive Arts course, where she lectures on creative thinking.


Hedsor, an artistic partnership between Kimberley and Karl Foster, has created a series of Object Dialogue Boxes containing unusual and intriguing objects which can be handled and used. The artists have made nine boxes, which have also appeared at the Turner Contemporary, the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of London, Manchester Art Gallery and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

Yvette Hawkins

Yvette Hawkins will bring her project Book Apothecary, a travelling artist book museum, to Μουσείον. The project consists of a series of books, installations and “bookish objects” made by young people as well as emerging and established artists, which are presented within a series of suitcases and trunks modified by furniture maker Nick James.

Lyndall Phelps

Lyndall Phelps creates magical and surreal work that makes use of museum practices. Softkill features a series of taxidermied birds, including magpies and birds of prey, carrying shiny treasures, which explores the fragility of museum objects. The Pigeon Archive uses photography, video and sculpture to document ways in which homing pigeons were used during the First and Second World Wars.

Michael Leigh

Michael Leigh has produced a series of colourful collages based on collections of animals, objects and archives found in museum collections. Collages are made from found papers in magazines and books dredged from flea markets, charity shops and boot sales. They reflect his ongoing interest in humorous juxtapositions and his fascination for collecting toys, ephemera, books, records and rubber stamps.

Dawn Felicia Knox

American-born Dawn Felicia Knox’s artwork is a distillation of found and constructed narratives bound together with ephemera, found objects, photographs and sculpture. Dawn is currently based in North East England, and her recent work has been concerned with the reinterpretation of artefacts and historical narratives: she brings them into a wider discussion about art, science, myth and identity.

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