Leasingstede is an imaginary village museum,
housed in a couple of outbuildings behind a
a run-down manor house, somewhere in the
West Country. It is an ongoing artwork by
Jane Williams, who creates its exhibits -
prehistoric finds, weird rural tools and other
improbable objects - labelling and displaying
them so that they look quite plausible. There
are The Friends of Leasingstede Museum
newsletters, postcards and souvenirs.
Highlights of the collection include a coin hoard,
a beaker (pictured right), a pair of pattens, a cork
model building, a votive figure and a percussion
New acquisitions abound, since the museum is
free from the constraints of availability,
funding and historical veracity that affect
The backstory sets a scene full of local
characters, history and legends. The
name Leasingstede is constructed from
Middle English words for ‘falsehood’ and
‘place’. The museum’s revered founder is
Nottrowe, because he’s not true.
There is a performative element to the work,
in that the artist plays the part of a disaffected
gallery attendant, the Other Curator.
Leasingstede is a spoof, intended to entertain, but it also draws attention
to the quintessential allure and vital importance of museums, especially
the quirky, backwater ones on which Leasingstede is based.