‘Nature is Imagination Itself’ — A Talk by Jane Hall


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Not long into her talk, Jane Hall quoted the famous William Morris saying — ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’. The breathtaking beauty of her work is perhaps obvious to any viewer. The time, dedication and sheer patience that it takes to produce her life-like insects is remarkable. Morris’ reference to utility, though not perhaps immediate apparent, will soon become clear.
 
Jane trained in embroidery at Loughborough and her work, which has expanded, grown and developed since then, is now concerned with the minute replication in stitch of butterflies, flowers and fairies. On average it takes 8-10 weeks to create only one of her precious butterflies, time, she says, spent listening to radio plays and imagining in her wonderful garden studio at her home in Dorset. This studio is filled with everything Jane needs, an abundant amount of cotton-reels, needles and trays of real butterflies which met their deaths naturally.
 
The talk was commenced by demystifying the materials she works with, namely silk, chiffon and organza. These were then passed around for the audience to appreciate. She demonstrated that the Japanese needles she uses are specially designed with flat heads and round eyes; so they do not damage the ever-so delicate fabrics. Jane referred to her work as ‘studies’, ‘still-lives’ or ‘portraits’, using anthropomorphic language which transforms these butterflies into beings as human as you or I — and thus deserving of these artistic terms.
 
Just as inspiriting is her profound knowledge about the creatures she has dedicated her life observing. Jane was full of stories about the lives, biology and history of her marvellous animals. She demonstrated how the Peacock butterfly has markings, which upside-down look like owl’s ears, in order — miraculously — to catch predators off-guard. This was made clear by a skilful 180° rotation of the projector, a feat which everyone enjoyed. There was another tale about the belief that butterflies soured milk, one generated by superstitious farmers concerned with the lore of fairy kind.
 
And so, we return to William Morris, and having ‘nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful’. Jane admits to becoming more and more invested in nature conservation, the environment, extinction and reintroduction. In the United Kingdom, it is clear that the butterfly is very tangibly in peril. According to charity Butterfly Conservation’s 2015 study, ‘70% of the species are declining in occurrence…and 57% declining in abundance since 1976’. Jane’s artistry is another way of engendering interest and maintaining the butterfly’s position in the front of the mind. Her passion in conservation was typified by the symbiotic relationship between the Large Blue and the humble ant — a fascinating and surprising story. 
 
It was apparent that Jane’s love of these fairy-creatures does not stop at drawing, painting and sewing. Instead it is a passion which has been honed from childhood: from the days of sending letters to the birds, by way of the hedge on the way to school; inviting them to tea. The excavation of a field— removing 350 tons of top-soil — was in order to design a butterfly garden and magical fairy-house. Over a decade ago Jane made a shimmering golden wedding dress over 8 months, which is now deservedly resting in Mompesson House, Salisbury. Her latest undertaking is a work that will span years — a butterfly cabinet and ‘her piece of Heaven’: an homage to the cabinets of curiosity or kunstkammers of the 16th century. The eventual dream will be layers upon layers of butterflies: pressing up to the glass in a complimentary wooden frame made by Rupert Brown. 
 
If you are interested in Jane Hall’s work please see http://clothofnature.com/ and for butterfly conservation http://butterfly-conservation.org/.

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ART IN MOTION: Talk by McLaren’s Mark Roberts


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On Friday 19 May, Mark Roberts, Design Operations Manager at McLaren Automotive, gave the third talk of the Voices of the Future series – an integral part of our Art in Motion; Knowledge and Design exhibition that runs throughout May.

Mark has been at McLaren Automotive since its beginning in 2010 and started earlier, when the Company was in its prior incarnation as McLaren Cars, the organisation that famously produced the fastest and most exclusive super-sports car ever – the McLaren F1 in 1992 – and also the Mercedes-Benz SLR after that. In fact, Mark joined McLaren during the very first week of McLaren Cars, when the company’s co-founder and design visionary, Gordon Murray,  was building his team from scratch. That was 27 years ago and Mark has been there ever since, employee number 9 of over 2500 today. As Design Operations Manager he is near-unique at McLaren having seen the company grow into the UK’s most successful super-sports car manufacturer.

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McLaren F1

Appropriately, Mark’s talk started with the beginning of the F1 project (the last prototype of which is on display throughout May at Messums Wiltshire): he described the unprecedented scenario that saw designer Gordon Murray and the Company’s joint financier, Ron Dennis, decide to build a car that incorporated McLaren’s formidable experience in Formula One motor racing together with Murray’s vision for ultimate road car design. He showed the processes through which the F1 car was conceived, made and developed; he championed the great protagonists in the processes, not least the formidable engineering talent of Barry Lett, and designer/stylist Peter Stevens. Mark’s recollections, wonderfully illustrated with drawings he salvaged from Peter Stevens’ waste-paper basket at the time (apparently Peter didn’t regard his sketches as having any value at the time…) served as a fascinating insight into the evolving design process of the F1: a car that was so far ahead of anything produced before, that even today it is the fastest car of its kind in the world.

Mark described how the F1 was perhaps the last car at McLaren to be drawn in all its elements, and how it was put together by individual teams in the classical, low-production fashion. It was a very small team that created it, and that ethos survives at McLaren where a similarly small ‘family’ produces all McLaren’s current cars. There is a resulting efficiency and integrated methodology that allows McLaren to design and complete a car in just 14 months from initial sketch to production. Something larger companies could only dream of.

The second part of Mark’s talk focused on the evolution of the current range of McLaren cars, part of a process called Track 22 which saw 22 cars designed and put into production in the current expansion phase. Referring to the P1 on display at the foot of his stage –essentially the spiritual successor of the F1 – Mark walked round the car and showed how every little aero-detail was exactingly considered. He showed how airflow worked over the car, how the trim details deflect air to do different jobs, and how nothing on the entire car is superfluous to exacting requirements.

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Mark discusses the P1

From his walk round the amazing P1, Mark took us through McLaren’s pillars of design philosophy. He showed us how McLaren tried to ‘shrink wrap’ bodywork around the mechanics to create the leanest possible cars and looked to nature, in particular  the shapes of sharks,  falcons and the male human body, for inspiration.

He also explained a process called ‘layering’  to allow air to flow freely through the car and the use of natural prototypes to create a sinewy, muscular and organic aliveness to their designs. He focused on certain areas which showed the complexities of, by example, brilliant door-hinge design, together with other elements of automotive ‘jewellery’: how all individual parts of McLarens are carefully considered. He described how important is was to be brave and to sprinkle in a dose of ‘magic’ in every part of the process – that all these elements, together with a cohesive team approach, rather than individuals working alone, were core to the creation of all McLaren’s products.

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Clay modelling – part of the design process

For the last part of his talk Mark took us through the current design processes at McLaren Automotive: from technical worksheets, to the creation and editing down of multiple themes; from 2D into 3D renderings and then CNC-cut clay modelling and how the models are then modified by hand. He showed how adding a silver finish to models allows the designers to work better with light and optimise the ultimate muscularity and compound curves of the cars. Mark described how the design team might walk around a clay model for 2 weeks, changing the tiniest details that might look right one day… but oddly not the next – such are the processes of honing great design. And finally Mark described how Virtual Reality in design now contributes and how ‘computer gamers’ are employed to create realities and tools previously beyond their wildest dreams.

All in all, Mark’s talk was a gripping and unprecedented insight into McLaren’s modern car designing process, and the near-200 strong audience loved every minute of it. We are enormously grateful to both Mark and to McLaren Automotive for their time and supplying their precious F1 and P1 prototypes for the Art In Motion show.

See the current McLaren range at:  http://cars.mclaren.com

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Patrons Tour of the Venice Biennale 2017


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Messum Wiltshire’s curator Catherine Milner and Kate Sallier de la Tour led a small group of collectors including some Messums patrons around the Venice Biennale in a five night whistle stop tour of the most important fixture in the contemporary art calendar.

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Phyllida Barlow at the British Pavilion

From Phyllida Barlow’s concrete boulders at the British pavilion that flanked the outside of the building like shrubs in Fred Flinstone’s garden to some ‘speaking portraits’ by Paul Benney in a deconsecrated church, Venice offered a wide array of artistic offerings.

One of the most memorable exhibitions was in the Palazzo Fortuny where three floors of the building, once the atelier of the famous fabric designers, showed everything from ancient stone menhirs dating from 4,000 BC to Marina Abramovich’s newest installation – a collection of crystals that visitors were invited to touch to realign their chakras.

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Damien Hirst with Annabel Jolly

Other spectacles included Damien Hirst’s gargantuan exhibition of make-believe treasures from a faked shipwreck. The artist, who was wandering around his exhibiton as we visited it, happily posed for a number of photographs with members of our group.

One of the most arresting sights however was not formally part of the Biennale at all; an unidentified Englishman was spotted sailing down the Grand Canal on the opening morning of the festival in a Maserati converted into a boat.

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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. http://www.riversimple.com

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


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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.

 

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Art in Motion: : “Looking at Horses” A Trainer, A Painter and A Sculptor


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ART IN MOTION:  Spirit of the Horse

‘Looking at Horses’ – An Evening in Conversation with a Trainer, a Painter & a Sculptor

Wednesday 14 June, 6:30 – 8:30pm Free to attend  – FULLY BOOKED

Enjoy a unique evening in the company of Hughie Morrison one of this Country’s great trainers, renowned painter Emma Sargeant and a sculptor, as we discover with the aide of questions both from the audience and from Fonthill Stud owner Alastair Margadale what their expertise can bring to how we look and understand one of humanity’s greatest partnerships.

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Hughie Morrison has had success spanning over nearly 2 decades. His commitment and passion for his horses being the driving force behind this huge success which has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Winners like Pastoral Pursuits (July Cup G1 at Newmarket 2005), Alcazar (Prix Royal Oak G1 at Longchamp 2005, the eldest horse in Europe to win a G1) and Sakhee’s Secret (July cup G1 at Newmarket 2007), have firmly placed Hughie on any would be owner’s short list to train their horse.

 

Emma SergeantEmma_Sergeant Photo Credit Kiloran Howard

Emma Sergeant is one of England’s best known figurative painters. Amongst her foremost admirers is His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who wrote: “one of the most admirable qualities of Emma’s art is the strength of her drawing, a hard-earned skill which she has fine-tuned over years of experiment and practice.” He also praised her as a wonderful traveling artist, a judgement based on the time she spent accompanying him on of his official tours of Egypt, Morocco and the Central Asian Republics in 1995 and 1996.

At the age of 21 Sergeant won the National Portrait Gallery Award and was then commissioned by the museum to paint a portrait of the most famous British actor of his generation, Lord Lawrence Olivier. Subsequently Sergeant has received numerous important portrait commissions throughout her career, her subjects including HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duke of York, both of whom own a number of her works.

Sergeant has a deeply serious and professional artistic purpose, which is well reflected in all of her works. Her rich, mixed-media compositions highlight the subtleties of man’s intrinsic bond with animals, particularly dogs, horses and dolphins.

Over the years, Sergeant has exhibited with a number of leading art organizations, including Agnew’s, The Fine Art Society and the Prince’s Foundation, in London; the Mona Bismarck Foundation in Paris; and the Newhouse Gallery, New York.

Photo credit:  Kiloran Howard

 

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I’ve always had a love of horses and I was drawn to them as a subject from an early age. Over time this has developed into a deep fascination with their anatomy and character. Capturing the physicality as well as the character of horses in a way that isn’t formulaic and bland but at the same time conformationally correct is the challenge. Injecting the bronze with the feeling of energy and life that exudes from every thoroughbred horse in abundance is the driving force in my work and one that I’m devoted to mastering.

They are natures greatest athletes, in my opinion, and when you combine that physical power and ability with a willingness and determination to try, and consider they are nothing short of aesthetically awe inspiring, you have a thoroughly intriguing subject. Attempting to capture this combination is a fascinating challenge, which changes with every horse.

I’ve adopted two of my mothers thoroughbreds who serve as willing models.

I was 6 when I lucky enough to have a grey Welsh mountain pony, called Whizz. He lived up to his name and I have very fond memories of time spent with but mainly being thrown off Whizz.

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Art in Motion: Sculpting Masterclass with Mark Coreth


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ART IN MOTION: Spirit of the Horse

Sculpting Masterclass with Mark Coreth

Saturday 17 June  Bookings

Distinguished international sculptor Mark Coreth leads a sculpting master class for all ages on 17 June. Join a group of 8 experienced sculptors on an all day course, or book one of 15 places for young makers age 8+ years, for a session of up to two hours, creating your own horse to take home.  (Please note: children must be accompanied by an adult).

Mark_Coreth image (Events thumbnail)Mark Coreth is internationally recognized as the master sculptor of the animal in motion, he has an acute and perceptive eye drawing heavily on experiences gained during his early years in Kenya.

Working quickly in clay or plasticine, Mark captures speed, movement and the sheer physicality of his subjects. Mark shows regularly in London, Paris and New York and his most famous pieces include a 16 foot high life size charging elephant which was the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary; a life size sculpture of the legendary racehorse Frankel, commissioned by the owner Prince Khalid Abdullah and unveiled by the Queen at Ascot in 2015.

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MAKERS WEEKEND: Demonstration – A Sculptor at Work


 

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Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 April 2017
A demonstration throughout the day, open to all

We are delighted to have local sculptors from Coade Ltd with us for the Makers Weekend.  There will be a demonstration of how they work that will continue throughout the day.

At COADE the team of highly skilled craftsmen recreate classical sculpture, contemporary pieces and private commissions in Coade stone. Created from stoneware using a secret recipe and then fired at a very high heat, Coade stone makes it possible to produce sculpture with the finest detail that is also incredibly durable and has the appearance of stone.

First developed in the 18th Century by Eleanor Coade, a highly successful businesswoman of her time, she was employed by every eminent architect of her day. Her work can be found in all parts of the British Isles and has been exported around the world. Because Coade stone is remarkably resistant to the harshest weather, most of her pieces are in as good condition now as when they were first made over two hundred years ago.

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STUDIO VISIT: Bridget McCrum


Bridget's studio

Saturday 6 May 2017,  Booking
Join us for a studio visit to artist Bridget McCrum ahead of her solo exhibition for Messums Wiltshire this summer.As well as a highly regarded sculptor, Bridget has always considered the landscape and setting to be a relevant and enjoyable part of the creative process of sculpting. Her garden is one of the real pleasures for any one interested not just in works of art, but also landscape and context in the garden. Set above the river Dart her garden is full of works from her earliest years to latest pieces, with a consideration given to space and how to place them.

Transport to Dittisham is available by separate arrangement.

Meeting time: 11:00am

Lunch: 12:30pm

Bridget McCrum was born in 1934 and lives and works in Devon and Gozo in Malta. She studied at Farnham College of Art, training as a painter with Lesjek Musjynski, in the 1950s. She came to sculpture in her forties and from 1980 began to work primarily in stone, having learned her craft from John Joeku and Andrea Schulewitz on the South Downs. She has exhibited extensively and recent selected solo exhibitions include One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, 2014 Messum’s, London, 2011 Messum’s, London, 2008, Messum’s, London, 2002, St James Cavalier Art Centre, Malta. Her work is included in many international collections including: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Rolls Royce Aero Engines, Bristol, Lismore Castle, Co Cork, HSBC, Malta, Spencer Stuart, London, and the Golden Door Foundation, San Diego. Her work is held in private collections in the USA, Canada, the Middle and Far East, Europe and the UK.

Working primarily in stone, she also works directly in plaster and translates both of these materials into bronze.  McCrum’s work is distinguished by her preferred subject matter: the juxtaposition of fauna, notably birds, with ancient artefacts such as tools and ceremonial weapons.  She perceives a synergy between nature and the tools of early industry found on archaeological sites, drawing parallels between these primitive objects and the curve of a wing, or a texture found on very old stones. These inform her work and are present in her large-scale pieces.

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