ART IN MOTION: Voices of the Future 2 – Talk with Hugo Spowers, Inventor of Zero Emissions car Riversimple Rasa

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It was a great honour for us to welcome Hugo Spowers to Messums Wiltshire on Friday 12 to hear him introduce and talk about his astonishing revolutionary car, the Riversimple Rasa. The Rasa is the world’s first independently-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and, incredibly, has been designed and manufactured to successful prototype stage by Hugo and his tiny team in Wales. In doing so, he has completely out-witted the big international car makers in this technology. His talk was an extraordinary insight into how he has achieved his seemingly impossible dream, despite a very different background in motor racing and old car restoration. Hugo’s is a story of extraordinary commitment, determination, left-field creativity and derring-do, and his talk was an intensely interesting crash-course in how motoring can – and will – be so different in the hydrogen age.

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The Rasa on the drawing board

During his talk and during a long enthusiastic question time afterwards, Hugo explained how for over 15 years Hugo has fought for his very particular goal, “to pursue, systematically, the elimination of environmental impact of personal transport”. Right from the start of that dream he has known that hydrogen-powered ultra-lightweight automobiles that are built to last are the inevitable cars of the future. Throughout his talk, Hugo explained how this philosophy remains, at least evidentially, in marked contrast to the views of the major manufacturers and international governments. He explained how the big manufacturers are geared around manufacturing cars from steel and using predominantly fossil-fuel power – in other words, cars with ‘built in obsolescence’ created on acutely unsustainable commercial models. He also explained how the current electric car revolution, while significant and important, is not the answer.

Hugo went on to describe in some detail the advantages of using hydrogen over conventional electric and hybrid platforms, and explained how fuel distribution and safety works. He compared his car to the Toyota Mirai – the most significant hydrogen fuel-cell car in current production – and explained how very much more efficient the Rasa was, despite being designed and built at a tiny fraction of the cost. He also explained how the power requirement for electric cars for the masses was so enormous that the model could never be realistically serviced, at least using current technologies.

But it is Hugo’s leasing model which is a crucial part of the plan, and he described the many benefits of offering a new way of owning and using cars – of how Rasas would never be sold but instead leased to customers, who would by a ‘service package’ to use it, a bit like is currently achieved with the mobile phone industry. He explained how he has a new style of service-provision model that will enable customers to travel for a fixed price per month, with minimal harm to the environment. His leasing model and revolutionary car also require a company with a new form of governance.

“By owning the vehicle ourselves and not selling it, it is in our interests to make a car that will last as long as possible and be as cheap to run as possible,” Hugo explained. He also pointed out how parts need to have value at their end-of-life so that their costs were recoverable. All these are cornerstones to his philosophies, which make The Riversimple Movement – his company and business model – and its zero-emissions car, so fascinating. It also makes all the world’s established car mass-producers look decidedly behind the times.

Hugo Spowers in Rasa credit Oxford University (1280x852)

Hugo Spowers

Although it is mind-boggling to imagine a world of tiny lightweight, largely-recyclable cars, powered by hydrogen and leased in entirely new ways, Hugo’s pretty and extraordinary car works beautifully and achieves all his Company’s goals. Just to prove the point his car was demonstrated on Saturday to an astonished audience. Seeing it nipping silently about the lanes of Tisbury, producing no emissions at the tail pipe, was a brilliant moment. And now the Chinese are going to make it.

Hugo is financed by the Welsh Government and a series of independent supporters, and he has just raised well over £1m through crowd funding. You can join The Riversimple Movement here and be part of this marvellous initiative.

As a man who dreamt, invented and made, Hugo is a hero of our times. It was wonderful to have him and his wife Fiona with us at Messums Wiltshire. His car remains on display as part of the Art In Motion: Knowledge and Design exhibition until May 19th.

Art in Motion: Talk by The Royal College of Art’s Professor Dale Harrow, Head of Vehicle Design


From cars with  goose bumps to ones with no bonnet, Professor Dale Harrow, Head of the Vehicle Design programme of the  Royal College of Art revealed during a talk at Messums Wiltshire last week, some of the ideas that students of car design are playing with and the importance of drawing and sculpting in forming the cars of the future.

‘Everything starts with a sketch and then we sculpt the cars in clay,’ he said. ‘The silhouette and centre line profile is the most important; If you get that right it all pulls around that. The aim is to make the car look as if its moving when it is standing still – to make it dynamic.’

It takes 18 months from the first sketch to production. Most prototypes are modelled in silver as this is the most flattering colour Harrow explained.  ‘When we design cars we consider how reflections work in the sculptural process. The challenge we have is packing people and engineering into one aesthetic form.’

He went on to talk about 3-d printing and intimated that people in the future might download car parts and put the elements together to build their own.

In 1928 General Motors talked about aesthetic styling. Now its marketing, strategy, manufacture, research and design, psychology, engineering, business and marketing, technical issues, social change and globalisation that guides production, he pointed out.

Sketches‘The Y Generation is not used to owning things; they want experiences’ he said. ‘Products are becoming services and the question for the car industry is how to make the service better.’

Audi has developed a living surface for one of its models which reacts to  different air temperatures like the hairs on your arm.

Much of the discussion after the talk focused on the autonomous cars of the future; 1.24 million people are killed in cars every year – a figure that could drop by 98 per cent with autonomous cars.

Showing images of cars that look more like rounded pods than the blade shaped cars of today, Harrow explained that the real challenge for his students is that 80 percent of the world has no access to mobility; a problem that the British are leading the world in trying to resolve.

‘The British have the most progressive and diverse car designers in the world and the skills and knowledge of the UK are unequalled,’ he concluded.

Opening Night of Art in Motion: Knowledge & Design with Talk by Richard Sutton

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On Friday 5 May Richard Sutton, Curator of Art In Motion; Knowledge and Design, gave a talk celebrating the skills of the brilliant designers who were responsible for creating the finest cars of their eras. He described how each car in the new exhibition was chosen specifically to illustrate different types of construction, different approaches to design, and different ways to travel.

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Lamborghini Miura S

At a time when car design – not just its manufacture – has become digitised and ever more remote from the processes of making by hand, he said he felt that the exhibition was particularly appropriate at the 13th century barn of Messums Wiltshire. “Modern cars – particularly modern supercars – are often ugly and aggressive, designed more like weaponry than anything organic and ‘of the earth’”, he explained, comparing the latest Lamborghini with the beautiful 1966 Miura that is central to the exhibition.

The fact that the barn displayed cars made from sheet metal and hand-made round wooden formers by craftsmen of exceptional eye and skills going back to the age of the early coach builders, was very significant, he said.

He then showed an evocative film recently-made that demonstrated how we as children are influenced by our environments, our parents and teachers,  and these ambitions seed the design styles of the future.

Moving on to a Jaguar XK120 parked outside the entrance that evening he explained how the XK, which appeared in 1948, just three years after the end of World War II, encapsulated a new curvaceous and fluidity of design,  a completely new ‘look’ after the hard-edged armoured era of the War. He also showed how it compared with its immediate Pre-War predecessor, the 1938 SS Jaguar 100, designed by the same men; the change in shape mirroring the new zeitgeist.

“There have been literally thousands of car manufacturers since the Victorian times and there are a host of candidates for the most significant designs since the War, but each car in this exhibition represents the high-tide of if kind – a kind of perfection that no other model represents,” he explained.

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Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS

Richard then told the story of each car chronologically, starting with the 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS ‘low nose,’  the exclusive work of the legendary Italian designer Franco Scaglione.

Richard showed how the car had its routes in the realm of the aeronautical world and how it evolved from the fantastic creations shown in the mid 1950s at the famous craftsmen showcase that was the annual Turin Motor Show. “Italy is and always has been a nation of Leonardos,” he explained.

Richard paid particular attention to ‘ the big three’ designers from Italy, who between them also had three cars in the exhibition: the 1966 Lamborghini Miura (the first mid-engined production supercar), the 1968 Ferrari Daytona and the 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO. Giorgetto Guigiaro, Marcello Gandini and Leonardo Fioravanti, were responsible for more important cars from Italy during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s than any other group, and Richard explained their differences in approach.

He also touched on the philosophies of the various important British designers of the time including  Sir William Lyons and Malcolm Sayer of Jaguar and John Tojiero and his associates who were responsible for so many iconic sports cars from the classic eras including three great British cars that are in the exhibition: the Jaguar E-type, the AC Cobra which competed with it, at least in performance terms, and the incredible McLaren F1, designed by Gordon Murray and styled by Peter Stevens.

The beautiful F1 on display is kindly loaned by McLaren Automotive and is soon to be supplemented by the company’s latest ultimate model, the P1. Mark Roberts, the Design Operations Manager and central to both the F1 and the P1’s deign processes, is due to talk at Messums Wiltshire on Friday 19 May at 7pm.



Brilliant drawings at Messums Wiltshire “little creative festival”

IMG_0292 IMG_0256 IMG_0265Led by Catherine Messum, two sessions of drawing instruction introduced children from the ages of 9-16 to the techniques of shading and mark making.

As part of the wider “Little Creative Festival” in the area Messums Wiltshire introduced some of the techniques that can be used to create tone, shadow and volume in drawing. The results were a delight and surprise, with 30 minutes of instruction and work in grids on paper, the children set off into the exhibition to set and draw any of the sculptures that caught their eye.

With Education forming a part of the Messums Wiltshire weekly remit and an interest in seeing draughtsmanship at the start point of many peoples artistic adventures, the future looks exceptionally bright in the hands of these talented young artists.


HUMAN SONG I BIRD SONG – An Evening of Poetry & Music


Saturday 4 March 6-8pm, £15 in advance £18 on the door.  Bookings 

An evening of poetry, birdsong and music arranged by Pippa Haywood with Mark Meadows and violinist Theo May.

Performance Starts at c 6:15 and runs for approx 1hr 20.

“I am the song that sings the bird.
.. I am the word that speaks the man.”
Charles Causley

Taking the current exhibition as it’s starting point, the evening will look at birdsong and it’s relationship to poetry and the human voice. The event will include both live and recorded readings interspersed with birdsong and original compositions by Theo May.

Pippa’s wide ranging TV and radio work has made her a familiar voice to many . She is a regular reader for Poetry Please on Radio 4 and has appeared in numerous TV comedies and dramas.
Mark Meadows is a local actor and singer who will also be known to many for his work in radio, TV and theatre.
Theo May is an inspired young musician currently studying composition at the Royal College of Music.








GARDEN DESIGN – Talk with Garden Designer Charlotte Rowe


Charlotte Rowe Garden Design Messums WiltshireWednesday 22 February 6- 8pm, £10 advance £15 on the door Booking

Talk continues for approx 45 minutes.

Leading garden designer Charlotte Rowe talks about her work and her understanding of the opportunities that exist within garden design to include sculpture. Chaired by Caroline Donald, gardening editor of the Sunday Times.

Charlotte Rowe set up her landscape design studio in 2004, and since then has worked on more than 200 projects both in the UK and abroad. She regularly teaches at the Inchbald School of Design and has won several industry awards. No Man’s Land, her garden for ABF The Soldier’s Charity to mark the centenary of the First World War, won a gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2014. She lives in London and Wiltshire.

Garden by Charlotte Rowe. Photograph by Charlotte Rowe. 




Messums to Represent Michael Hulls


Messums Wiltshire are proud to announce their sole representation of Michael Hulls, Olivier award winning artist and renowned “choreographer of light”.

Michael Hulls is one of only four non dance choreographers listed in the Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Messums Wiltshire are holding an introductory exhibition which places his work in the artistic environment for the first time and explores the emotive powers of tungsten lighting and a lifetime of using light as an artform in its own right. 
Saturday 11 Feb – 5th March
Saturday 25th Feb 11:00am – talk by Michael Hulls. RSVP
Press release and further information

CONSTELLATIONS – Talk by Artist Michael Hulls



Talk by Artist Michael Hulls RSVP 

Saturday 25 February 11am
Free to attend
Duration: approx 1hr.

An Introduction to the work of Olivier award winning artist Michael Hulls. Renowned as a “choreographer of light”, Michael Hulls is one of only four non dance choreographers listed in the Oxford Dictionary of Dance. His first solo exhibition was “No  Body” at Sadlers Wells Theatre Autumn 2016. This was followed by a collaboration with Russell Maliphant at Messums Wiltshire, and an independent mindset of working which resulted in the pieces on view today. 

Renowned as a provocative speaker and thinker, this is a rare opportunity to hear him talk firsthand about his work and its evolution, the history of Tungsten light and its antithesis “LED”








DRAWING – Materials and Techniques


A one-hour introduction to drawing techniques and materials class for 9 –  13 year olds. The class begins with a demonstration of a range of specialist drawing materials such graphite, carbon pencils, charcoal, ink, chalk and experimenting with different paper surfaces and blending tools. Next, the students will be taught some basic technical drawing skills such as line drawing, texture, shading, tonal grading, hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and more through a series of simple drawing exercises.
The drawing classes will take place at tables in the main gallery of Messums Wiltshire, Tisbury. Classes are limited to 20 students per class and advanced booking is essential. Tickets are £10 per student. To book, please call Melissa at Messums Wiltshire on 01747 445 042 or email
10.30 – 11.30 Tuesday 14 February (Ages 9 – 13)
2.00 – 3.00 Tuesday 14 February (Ages 9 – 13)





11 February – 5 March 2017
Saturday 25th Feb 11:00am – talk by Michael Hulls. RSVP
The emotive powers of light are explored in works by Olivier award-winning Michael Hulls on show at Messums Wiltshire from 10 February to 5 March. Internationally renowned as a ‘choreographer of light’ Hulls is one of only four lighting designers listed in the Oxford Dictionary of Dance; his lighting adding movement and a fluid sculpture to the stage.  Two light installations entitled Castor and Pollux are built from a mixture of five sizes of 500w, 300w, 200w and 60w tungsten lightbulbs – 48 in each – creating the effect of constellations of stars. The filaments in each bulb dim and flare according to instructions from a computerised lighting programme, while an accompanying sound score by composer Andy Cowton is simultaneously played through embedded speakers.

“My pieces are requiems for the tungsten bulbs that are fast disappearing from our world,” says Hulls. “It is a great pity as there is nothing as beautiful as a piece of tungsten wire glowing in a glass bulb.” These works which combine the magic of early electricity in the tungsten wires that fizzle and spit and the 21st century minimal industrial aesthetic are energy made visible. The light they emit is warm and inviting and has a colour rendition of 100 percent meaning that it does not flatten or distort the colours of objects around them as LED lights can do – producing instead the glow of firelight. 

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