UH Galleries is delighted to present Freehold, a new installation by Spanish artist Arabel Rosillo de Blas created especially for the gallery at the Museum of St Albans.
As winner of the Eastern Approaches annual open exhibition 2014, Arabel, who is based in Bedford, was invited to develop a solo exhibition. She combines a series of new sculptural works, drawings, archival images and text to create an ambitious installation that disrupts the gallery space dramatically.
From an external perspective, St Albans is an affluent city where people aspire to live and own property. The city's appeal is connected to its historic core, centring on the international significance of the cathedral. At a point where the Museum of St Albans itself is moving to a new home in the converted Town Hall, Arabel invites us to celebrate and question the city's qualities and values. Taking museum archival material as her inspiration, the artist focuses on the post-war housing developments in St Albans. Estates such as Marshalswick and Jersey Farm demonstrate aspiration for lone ownership and new beginnings.
In Freehold, Arabel constructs a series of interlocking spaces within the gallery to house a series of artworks exploring the images and ideologies of the 'property ladder' town planning and infrastructure. These include drawings in human hair, a floor of carved soap tiles cast from original cathedral tiles, life-size photographs and furniture sculptures. Arabel's artistic practice consists of handmade sculptures and installations that function both as beautiful artefacts and as social commentary. She is interested in creating visual metaphors which encourage visitors to connect otherwise unrelated objects, ideas, histories or contexts.
Arabel won Eastern Approaches with a delicate yet disturbing sculpture created from dolls-house furniture. The themes of decoration, domesticity and chaos suggested by this piece will continue and develop through the new installation Freehold.