Laura WilsonOld Salt

Courtesy & copyright Laura Wilson. Image by Charlie Newhouse

Old Salt by artist Laura Wilson will open at The Collection in late 2020 and feature a new immersive soundscape and display of objects and text-based artwork. Co-commissioned by The Collection and Mansions of the Future, the research-led project has been inspired by the artist’s site visits to Lincoln, during which time she has been researching Lincolnshire’s unique geography and landscape with archaeologist Tom Lane, meeting local people and exploring the Museum’s rich archives.

Central to the project’s inception was the artist’s introduction to a collection of briquetage (the ceramic equipment used in saltmaking) excavated as part of The Fenland Project (1982- 95) which is held within the Museum’s collection. The coarse ceramic material was used in the Prehistoric and Roman periods to make and support evaporation vessels for extracting salt from seawater along the Lincolnshire coast. Wilson has been inspired by the labour, trade routes and communities these objects represent as well as our individual relationship to salt as an everyday and often overlooked mineral, which can be found in our body, on our plate and in the sea.

Interested in lived experience and personal relationships to salt, the soundscape will develop through conversations with Tom Lane and participants who joined the project following an open invitation to volunteers working across Lincolnshire County Council’s Heritage Service volunteer community and with Mansions of the Future. 

Guided by her own interest in saltmaking Laura will present a text-based artwork further inspired by her research. Designed to replicate the dimensions of the 1215 Magna Carta the work has will be produced as a limited edition of four, corresponding to the number of surviving copies of this historic document, one of which can be seen at Lincoln Castle. The printed artwork will be accessioned into the Museum’s collection alongside a salt crystal retrieved in 2009 by the artist during her swim in the dead sea which is also on display as part of the presentation of Old Salt.

With special thanks to Tom Lane, volunteers Jo Tolley, Fiona Gillespie, Olivia Hennessy, Ann Stafford, Kay Veitch and Cherry Wright, The Collection’s Senior Collections Development Officer Dawn Heywood, Clare Cumberlidge, Tommie Introna (Black Shuck Cooperative) and David McSherry for assistance on the audio work, graphic designer Charlie Newhouse, and staff at The Collection and Mansions of the Future.


Laura Wilson (b. Belfast, Northern Ireland, lives and works in London) is interested in how history is carried and evolved through everyday materials, trades and craftsmanship. She works with specialists to develop sculptural and performative works that amplify the relationship between materiality, memory and tacit knowledge.

Laura’s interdisciplinary and research-based works have been exhibited widely including at: 5th Istanbul Design Biennial; Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Norwich (2020); Nicoletti Contemporary, London; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Bloomsbury Theatre, London (2019); The British Museum, London with Block Universe; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London (2018); Hull and East Riding Museum with Invisible Dust for Hull City of Culture (2017); Delfina Foundation (2016 & 17) RIBA, London; & Site Gallery, Sheffield (2016). She has been awarded the Jerwood New Work Fund and an A-N Bursary for new work in 2021.


Although Mansions of the Future closed its doors to the public in September 2020, the team continue to work in partnership with Laura Wilson and The Collection to realise the delivery of Old Salt. For updates on the project and any further inquiries regarding the commission please contact The Collection at thecollection@lincolnshire.gov.uk.

This project is part of Mansions of the Future’s Lincoln Live programme. Departing from Lincoln’s rich entertainment and theatre history, Lincoln Live features new commissions which exist at the intersections of disciplinary boundaries. The season is a celebration of performative ventures that stand resolutely marginal to both the history of English theatre and the often exclusive, disciplinary rhetoric of contemporary performance art.

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