Last summer artist Steffi Klenz was given access to the collections and buildings of the Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery and Adult Education Centre and commissioned to develop a body of work exploring new correlations between the work of the museum, art gallery, library and Adult Education Centre. The result is an exhibition of new photographic works illuminating the connections between museum object, site and viewer. Staffages (2018) runs from Friday 22 June until Sunday 8 September.
Suzie Plumb, Exhibition Curator adds, “At this exciting time of change and to celebrate the uniqueness of our collections and spaces, we wanted to capture a snapshot of the collections, buildings and the people working in and using these spaces before the evolvement into the new Cultural Hub.”
Klenz’s photographic work, Staffages (2018) explores how the meaning of objects and images can change as they pass through the hands of artists and collectors and has redisplayed objects from the collection in new set ups, across time and sites. Removed from previous context and redisplayed in different ways, objects and their meaning evolve into something new. The collection is no longer static and through making new connections between object, site and viewer the artist suggests a conceptual as well as physical space.
Researching the collections catalogue ignited an interest in museum theory; the process of donation, selection of objects and how these processes change over time. Klenz studied historic museum register, documenting the objects taken into the museum collections, the transition of ownership of these objects and how they were identified. These old registers, together with current computer records, detail the museum collection in a straightforward way, without attaching any perceived economic or cultural ‘value’ to individual objects. In museology, each object has equal status through registration, description, display and care and its value lies in the way it represents our shared stories.
How we tell stories changes over time, reflecting changes in society and in ethical beliefs. In Klenz’s work, the value and meaning of objects changes and questions how they are displayed. The artist is interested in how the relationship between object and the viewer shifts when the object is removed from the museum context. How do our perceptions of economic, cultural and historical value change if we alter the way in which museum objects are displayed?
This is an exciting opportunity to see objects through Klenz’s eyes and consider alternative cultural and visual links. This work presents new connections and illustrates how objects remain relevant, both culturally and visually, in different contexts.
Staffages 2018 previews on Thursday 21 June, 6pm – 8pm.
For further information and hi-res images please contact Will Cross, Marketing Assistant (Communications)
T: 01892 554089 M: 07496510372 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
22 June - 8 September
Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery, Civic Centre, Mount Pleasant, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1NJ
Tuesday - Saturday 9.30am - 5pm, Sunday and Monday closed, closed Bank Holidays, Free
‘Staffages’ refers to the use, in the late 1700s and early 1800s, of human and animal figures in painting that were not regarded as the primary subject matter of the work. Staffage (Beiwerk) in German means "accessories" or "decoration" referring to the descriptive term for figures to whom no specific identity or story is attached which are included merely for compositional or decorative reasons. Staffages are accessories to the scene, yet add life to the work and reinforce the main subject.
About Steffi Klenz
Steffi Klenz completed a MA in photography at the Royal College of Art in 2005. Her work has been included in various group and solo exhibitions, nationally and internationally.
Steffi's work has been published and has been widely reviewed in the press. In 2015 she was one of several international photographers commissioned to participate in the publication “Rights of Passage” for the 56th Venice Biennale.
Education: MA Photography, Royal College of Art, London (2003-2005); BA (Hons) Photography, Kent Institute of Art and Design, Rochester (1999-2002).
Selected Solo Exhibitions: Settings, Resettings, Repeat, Kehrer Gallery, Berlin (2017); Stagings of a Room, London Gallery West (2017); Plotting Spaces, Museum St. Albans, St. Albans (2015); Nummianus, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow (2010); La Posa, Goethe Institute, Glasgow (2010); Nummianus, New Art Museum Walsall, Walsall (2010); In Process, Pavillion, Leeds (2009); Nummianus, Wendt+Friedmann Gallery, Berlin (2007); Nonsuch, 2piR Gallery, Poznan, Poland (2007); Nonsuch, Andreas Wendt Gallery, Berlin (2006); Nonsuch, Photofusion, London (2006); A Scape, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea (2006); A Scape, Andreas Wendt Gallery, Berlin (2005).
Selected Group Exhibitions: The Data Battlefield, FotoMuseum Antwerp, Belgium (2017); Gestures of Resistance, Romantso Cultural Centre, Athens, Greece (2017); Room with a View, Kehrer Galerie, Berlin (2016); Look-Light, Tate Liverpool (2015); International Juried Competition, LA Centre for Digital Arts, USA (2015); Infocus, Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona (2014); 2014 Frames: Projecting International Photography, The 2014 Glasgow International Festival for Contemporary Art, Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2014).
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery
Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery showcases the special story of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells through a fantastic collection of art, natural history, archaeology, craft, toys and much more. This is a fascinating tale, beginning with the discovery of the spa waters in 1606 and the establishment of the notorious Georgian ‘den of iniquity’ which would later become the byword for everything counter to Victorian respectability.
The collection was established in 1885 when the Literary and Scientific Society began displaying collections on The Pantiles. It was not until the 1950s that the bespoke neo-Georgian building which currently houses the Museum & Art Gallery along with the local library was completed. The building remains largely original, save for an accessibility refurbishment in 2013 which added a lift and a few other minor improvements.
The Museum & Gallery collection is of both regional and national importance and includes the world’s largest collection of Tunbridge Ware, a significant toy collection dating back to the 1700s and one of the best Georgian portrait collections outside London.
The story of Kent’s spa town is featured throughout, contrasting the decadence of the manor house with the spartan lifestyle of the humble hop-picker.
All of this is complemented with a calendar of special exhibitions in the Art Gallery, ranging from classical and contemporary art exhibitions to history and science displays. Each exhibition aims to bring the best of the world to Tunbridge Wells and the best of Tunbridge Wells to the world.
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery is owned and managed by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.