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    Leaf Fields sculpture returns home

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    News release: 15 May 2017

    A rededication ceremony to mark the gifting of artist Paul Mason’s Leaf Fields to St Albans has been held following the relocation of the large-scale limestone sculpture.

    The Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, Cllr Frances Leonard; Chris McIntyre, Dean of Cultural Affairs and Director of UHArts at University of Hertfordshire; Hertfordshire County Councillor Sandy Walkington, and Professor Geraint John from the Hertfordshire Association of Architects (HAA) and St Albans Civic Society
    Previously positioned outside the former Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road, the sculpture now sits in the civic centre plaza near the Alban Arena. 

    The former museum site is about to be redeveloped as housing to help fund the new museum and art gallery being created at the old Town Hall. Due to the planned construction work at the Hatfield Road site, the Leaf Fields sculpture needed to be relocated.

    The sculpture now lies on a busy pedestrian route from St Peter’s Street to the Alban Arena where it will be seen by large numbers of passers-by. This new more prominent position at the civic centre plaza was chosen for Leaf Fields, following a review of options and consideration of the sculpture’s heritage.

    This marks an exciting return to the civic plaza for Leaf Fields. Award-winning British artist Paul Mason was originally commissioned in 1985 by the Hertfordshire Association of Architects to create the sculpture for the area outside the Alban Arena. The association wanted to make a gift to the City to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Leaf Fields was later moved to a site outside the former museum.

    Mason was a leading sculptor, draughtsman and teacher, educated in the Royal Academy Schools in London. He was known for his large-scale stone-carved exterior sculptures of objects found in nature. Mason’s work was informed by eminent predecessors including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. 

    The rededication ceremony on Tuesday 9 May was arranged to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the artist’s death.

    Speaking at the ceremony, the Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, Cllr Frances Leonard, said: “I want to thank the Hertfordshire Association of Architects for this generous gift of the Leaf Fields sculpture to St Albans. Given the significance of this distinctive sculpture, it is fitting that the artwork now rests in a more central location right in the heart of our City.”

    Chris McIntyre, Dean of Cultural Affairs and Director of UHArts at the University of Hertfordshire, who advised on the relocation of the statue, also spoke. He said: “I am privileged to have worked with Paul Mason, whose work stood out for its continuing adherence to the traditions of stone carving, and whose sculpture graces cities as diverse as Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton, Sheffield and Edinburgh, as well as St Albans. Leaf Fields has had a chequered history in its locations, so it is good to be able to site it in a place that will allow it to be appreciated for its own qualities and to enhance the city centre environment.”

    Guests included Professor Geraint John from the Hertfordshire Association of Architects (HAA) and St Albans Civic Society as well as representatives from St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust.

    Also present was Hertfordshire County Councillor Sandy Walkington, who spoke about how he helped judge the HAA’s competition that brought the sculpture to St Albans.

    A new sign for the sculpture will be erected once the new museum and gallery is opened. Work to transform the old Town Hall into a new museum and art gallery is now well underway, with an official launch scheduled for next year.

    The old Town Hall is a Grade II* listed building, dating from 1831, that once converted will become a major visitor attraction and venue for events. Spread over three floors, the museum and art gallery will stage a dynamic changing programme of historical and contemporary art exhibitions all year round. 

    The £7.75m project has attracted Heritage Lottery funding of £2.8m and St Albans City and District Council is committed to providing more than £3.25m. St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust is also leading a campaign to raise further funds, supported by the Council and the University of Hertfordshire.

    Residents can become part of this exciting project that will tell the story of the city of St Albans in an interesting and accessible way. For a donation of £250, they can have their name or that of a loved one, etched onto an oak panel in the new museum. The panels will line the Benefactors’ Walk of Fame, one of the major walkways linking the Basement Gallery and the building’s Georgian prison cells. This idea was inspired by the wooden panels in the building’s old courtroom and graffiti left by prisoners. Anyone interested in becoming a donor and having their name written into history can find out more at www.honoursboard.org.uk or by calling 01727 296148.

    So far more than £240,000 has been raised through this honours’ board appeal. Many of the donations are being made in memory of loved ones or as gifts to children and grandchildren.
      
    Additional sponsorship packages and naming opportunities are available for both individuals and companies. The amounts range from £500 to £250,000 and offer high-profile involvement in the project. To find out more please contact the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, on admin@stalbansmgtrust.org.uk or call 01727 296148.

    For more details about the new Museum and Art Gallery project and how to donate, see: www.renaissancestalbans.org.uk

    The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, Councillor Frances Leonard.
    Contact for the Mayor’s office: 
    Alison Orde, the Mayor’s Civic Officer 
    Tel: 01727 819544 
    Email: mayoralty@stalbans.gov.uk

    Councillor contact:
    Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage at St Albans City and District Council 
    Tel: 01438 832255
    Email: cllr.a.brewster@stalbans.gov.uk

    Contact for information about ‘Leaf Fields’:
    Chris McIntyre, Dean of Cultural Affairs at the University of Hertfordshire
    Tel: 07770 581575
    Email: c.mcintyre@herts.ac.uk

    Contact for the media:
    Amanda Wilkinson, 
    Senior Communications Officer 
    St Albans City and District Council
    Tel: 01727 819317 
    E-mail: amanda.wilkinson@stalbans.gov.uk 
    www.stalbans.gov.uk
    Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StAlbansCouncil 
     
    Notes:
    The review into options for Leaf Fields took into account a report by Chris McIntyre, Dean of Cultural Affairs at the University of Hertfordshire. It also considered Paul Mason’s original proposal document.

    Photo:
    The Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, Cllr Frances Leonard; Chris McIntyre, Dean of Cultural Affairs and Director of UHArts at University of Hertfordshire; Hertfordshire County Councillor Sandy Walkington, and Professor Geraint John from the Hertfordshire Association of Architects (HAA) and St Albans Civic Society