Lyndall Phelps

Softkill - magpie

Softkill (photograph copyright Peter Mennim)

Lyndall Phelps completed her Bachelor of Education in Art, and MAs in Art and Art Administration at the College of Fine Art, Sydney.  She has been living and working in England since 1999.  She has had solo exhibitions in both Australia and England, including Canary Wharf: London, firstsite: Colchester, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Milton Keynes Gallery, the Natural History Museum at Tring and University of Hertfordshire Galleries.

The core of Lyndall Phelps’ art practice is formed by site and context-specific work that primarily references historical narratives, places and collections.  She is attracted to objects and stories that reveal a certain fragility or vulnerability.  However, rescue or escape, healing or protection, are never far from the surface.  The work is deliberately playful, sometimes magical and at times surreal: the distinction between fact and fiction is difficult to ascertain.

Phelps’ practice is strongly process-based, involving considerable research and collaboration with experts, both professional and amateur.  Her work for Μουσείον reflects this: ‘Softkill’ and ‘The Pigeon Archive’ saw Phelps liaise with radar scientists and pigeon fanciers respectively.  Museum practices are regularly incorporated into her work and its public presentation, including cataloguing procedures, museum storage systems, and object display and interpretation methods.


Softkill (photograph copyright Peter Mennim)

‘Softkill’ was a response to Phelps’ collaboration with radar scientists from Cranfield University, where they explored the potential for new military radar technology to help natural history scientists search for illusive wildlife.  She chose to focus on birds that are much maligned, such as magpies and birds of prey.  Phelps prototyped and fabricated radar countermeasures for each species, which could, in theory, prevent them from being detected by radar.  Drawings were also created, which showed computer graphic data of a bird as it passed through the radar beam.

‘The Pigeon Archive’ documented through photography, video and sculpture, ways in which homing pigeons were used during the First and Second World Wars.  Procedures that inhibited or denied pigeons their natural behaviour were of particular interest to Phelps; their historic manoeuvres re-staged using re-constructed wartime equipment, such as pigeon parachutes and backpacks.  A set of postcard multiples, showing the recommended way to wrap pigeons before dropping them from aircraft was also produced.


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