Eastern Approaches is an initiative of the University of Hertfordshire, who have been running it for thirteen years. Entries are from the eastern region (the counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk) and the curators at the opening this year admitted ambitions to make it an international show. That's good. Unfortunately there are no online images of the fifty or so entries so I can't link to them. They are in 2 and 3 dimensions and include sound and video installations. I particularly liked Fallen, a timely piece that represented every name of those from the St Albans parish who died in the first world war, as recorded on street plaques. The artist embroidered the initials of the fallen on handkerchiefs and made a pristine white pile of them. I also liked Mr McCreery's Shop, a model of a little old fashioned, derelict shop. There was simple wit in Lead Balloon and you wondered why no-one had ever made one before. A piece with ceramic heads mounted high on the wall on a red shelf reminded me of both Edmund de Waal and Christie Brown, two of my teachers at the University of Westminster.
There's a lot of music in St Albans (the Cathedral choir is one of the best) but the visual arts have always lacked a focal point. The University of Hertfordshire has teamed up with the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust to promote a new museum space and art gallery in the centre of town. The Trust has a Lottery grant so it will become a reality in a few years and - with an international show in it - it will put St Albans on the artistic map.