Messums Wiltshire is delighted to announce two talks which will complement our A Wessex Scene exhibition, showing in the Long Gallery from the 2nd until the 31st of December.
For time immemorial a plethora of artists have sat in front of and drawn the landscape of Wessex — an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in Great Britain whose borders stretched the entirety of the south of England. In the 19th century, Thomas Hardy resurrected the ancient name of ‘Wessex’, leading to a revival of its popular modern use. In an 1895 preface to the novel Far From the Madding Crowd, he summed up Wessex as ‘a merely realistic dream country’, capturing the wild and fantastic nature of this archaic place, mostly unchanged in spite of the passage of time.
Messums’ A Wessex Scene hopes to recapture the magic of Hardy’s wonderful description by presenting a remarkable collection of paintings, drawings and etchings which illustrate the rich history of the ancient south-western region: sites such as Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge and Durdle Door, scenes which have been painted by renowned artists Turner and Constable and now rest in national collections. A Wessex Landscape follows in the footsteps of Judy Pfaff’s ‘Roots Up’, 140 foot sculpture exhibition — again inspired by this area’s remarkable natural and artistic heritage.
David Inshaw Saturday 2 December 11.00am Free Admission
David Inshaw is one of the exhibiting artists in A Wessex Scene and is most famous for the painting ‘The Badminton Game’, (1973) now in the Tate collection. David now lives and works in Devizes and fell in love with the Wessex landscape by reading Thomas Hardy. ‘The way that Hardy used landscapes as a metaphor for human emotion struck a deep chord’, he has commented in conversation with Rachel Campbell-Johnston, echoing our own curatorial rational behind ‘A Wessex Scene’. David will be interviewed by our curator Catherine Milner about his relationship with the surrounding countryside and this inspiration for his revered paintings. This talk, opening the entire show, will provide a rare chance to listen to this artist, amazingly situated within the very views he has painted. David will be showing two paintings: ‘Cloud Study, Rainbow’ and ‘Banished’ — two very disparate takes drawing from the inspiration that the Wiltshire landscape provides.
Norman Ackroyd CBE RA 13 December 6.30-7.30pm £10 Early Bird £15 On the Door
Norman Ackroyd is one of Britain’s foremost etchers, known primarily for his aquatint work which hangs in the Tate and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Norman is passionate and knowledgeable about the local landscape, having visited and created works of art inspired by the melancholic lakes belonging to Fonthill Abbey, home to one of the greatest collectors of the 17th century; William Beckford. In fact, one of these poignant pieces ‘Bitham Lake’ will be featured in ‘A Wessex Scene’ and will be one of the many artworks contextualised in a seminal career discussed by Ackroyd, again in conversation with our curator Catherine Milner. Norman studied at Leeds College of Art and subsequently at the Royal College of Art in London. Norman was elected a Royal Academician and was made Senior Fellow, Royal College of Art. He now lives and works in London. Join us for an artist’s talk which mustn’t be missed.
Tickets for David Inshaw: [Free] https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/artists-talk-a-wessex-scene-with-david-inshaw-tickets-38533334240
Tickets for Norman Ackroyd: [£10 Early Bird £15 On the Door] https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talk-artist-printmaker-norman-ackroyd-cbe-ra-tickets-39653848729
17 November 2017 is the start of our winter Makers’ Market in the barn, which runs until 26 November 2017, (closed Monday and Tuesday). The everyday crafting that Christmas demands — writing, wrapping, making, buying — denotes all of the aesthetic decisions which often go unappreciated at this busy time of year. The simplest, and yet most effective gift that the season of Christmas can encourage, is that of love and friendship, communicated often through the joy of words. Our market will reflect this theme by including books, binding, printing, card-making, stationary and beautiful pens and inks.
Kate Holland, a multi award-winning bookbinder and a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders, uses traditional materials and techniques to produce a unique, contemporary binding that reflects the texts, illustrations and typeface of the book in question. Kate will be here in the barn, personalising her hand-stitched Italian leather books with your, or a loved one’s, initials. Handmade, in jewel-bright colours, with vintage wallpaper endpapers and presented in beautiful gift boxes, Kate can hand-tool any message or drawing on to the covers of her various notebooks. Kate’s hotly-anticipated ‘Alphabet Books’, released in November of this year, are designed to be collectable classics — these will also be available from the Makers’ Market.
Esme Winter, a design partnership established in 2011 between Richard Sanderson and Esme Winter stocks a distinctive style of pattern-designing, which can be seen throughout their high-quality paper collection. All Esme Winter patterns are designed in-house and each product is proudly made by trusted makers in the UK and Europe, using traditional materials and processes. We are offering the chance to purchase Esme Winter’s striking multi-purpose papers, inspired by the work of early 20th century decorative arts movements such as Art Nouveau and Deco. These sheets have many uses, including gift-wrapping, bookbinding, origami and more. Cards and gift tags, as well as other wrapping paraphernalia will also be available as part of the Makers’ Market.
Pens and ink, to write out your cards as well as your ever growing wish-lists, will be available from the stockist Herbin — the ‘oldest name in ink production in the world’. Ink-pots, pens and wax will all be displayed, helping you to add a touch of grandeur to your festive correspondence.
To complement our Christmas market, we will be offering card-printing courses (to pre-book) in the Long Gallery next door on the 18 or 19 November with maker Finn Bush. The sending of printed Christmas cards originated in London during 1843, with printmakers believing the ritual was merely a soon-to-pass trend. Fast-forward a century and a half, taking the time today to make a card or present for a loved one is one of the most meaningful gifts one can offer. Take up the rare chance to learn about four of the most popular printing methods: wood-cut, engraving, dry-point and monotype. Coming up with a design, choosing a method and settling down to the artistry of this occasion will symbolise the personal industry of this joyful season.
The Christmas Makers’ Market will be in Messums Wiltshire’s 13th century tithe barn from Friday 17 November – Sunday 26 November (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Take a break and enjoy coffee, mulled wine and mince pies looking onto Judy Pfaff’s extraordinary installation ‘Roots Up’.
To read about the upcoming market: http://messumswiltshire.com/christmas-makers-market/
To book for the Christmas card printing workshop: http://messumswiltshire.com/workshop-christmas-card-printmaking-finn-bush/
Wednesday 6 December, 6:30pm, £10 in advance, £15 on the door Bookings
Author and artist Alexander Newley joins us at the gallery for a reading from his new autobiography ‘Unaccompanied Minor’, followed by a Q&A hosted by curator Catherine Milner. Refreshingly candid, Alexander’s unique, personal insight in to the ‘the monster called showbiz’ and life in a Hollywood A-list family promises to make for a fascinating evening.
Born with a famous name to an unhappy marriage, Alexander Newley is the son of the Hollywood stars Joan Collins and Anthony Newley. Their life was one of almost unparalleled privilege and glamour but under the glossy veneer there was trouble: infidelity, insecurity and emotional trauma. His childhood was nomadic and dysfunctional as he watched the disintegration of his parents’ marriage and yet he tells his true story with great humour and compassion, whilst also portraiting London and Hollywood’s golden age during the swinging sixties and the seventies.
Signed copies of Alexander’s new memoir, illustrated throughout with images of his paintings, will be available on the night.
Saturday 2 December, 11:00am Bookings
Messums Wiltshire is delighted to announce its new exhibition, A Wessex Scene, a celebration of the location that we are situated in, both immediately and further afield. Join us in the Long Gallery for a preview and interview with artist David Inshaw to open the show.
David Inshaw is one of the exhibiting artists in A Wessex Scene and is most famous for the painting ‘The Badminton Game’ which is held by Tate Britain. Inshaw lives and works in Devizes and fell in love with the Wessex landscape through reading Thomas Hardy, ‘the way that Hardy used landscape as a metaphor for human emotion struck a deep chord.’ David Inshaw in conversation with Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Jinny Blom Artist’s Talk — 1st November 2017
‘That night I had a vivid dream. I was in a crowded football stadium filled with screaming fans. Beside me a small child I didn’t know was trying to get my attention. He was insistent and inaudible. Eventually I bellowed out into the stadium: ‘Will you all please be quiet — the child wants to say something’. Silence. I bent down and he whispered: ‘Please may I be a gardener?’ It might sound daft but that was that’.
— Jinny Blom, ‘The Thoughtful Gardener’, 2017.
Jinny Blom began her career as a landscaper in 2002. She had previously worked as a Jungian psychologist for twenty years, a role centred around the care and treatment of mentally ill patients. The two professions of psychologist and designer, although seemingly disparate at first, arguably stem from the same source of conscientiousness: with the pastime of gardening concerned with deriving pleasure — and ultimately health — from our surrounding environment. Nature is, of course, the greatest nurturer.
Jinny’s first job started six months into her ‘overnight’ career change, with a commission for the Manor at Temple Guiting. Here the inspiration for her garden design came from a profound appreciation of history and geography. Jinny used plants, trees and flowers to filter and construct the land around the views her clients did and didn’t want to see, resulting in a remarkable manipulation of spaces. Combing ‘simple planning’ and an elegant colour scheme, Jinny was able to achieve a kind of botanical equilibrium, creating a garden which proves easy to maintain and almost looks after itself. Jinny’s adage ‘to develop or not to develop’ denotes the play between the natural world and her taming of it; pitting crumbling, ruinous outhouses against the kitsch topiary of box-plants, styled into pigs.
She went on to describe other exhibitions and commissions, all of which are elaborated on in her wonderful book ‘The Thoughtful Gardener’, available from our bookshop. A particularly humorous narrative was concerned with an exhibition in the Jardins des Tuileries, Paris. Used to the military precision and organisation demanded of the Chelsea Flower Show, Jinny was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere of the French, one that almost reached a level of nonchalance, as they were happy to sit around smoking and chatting, before commencing with the installation.
Another career-defining project was commissioned by the Spring restaurant at Somerset House. Reverse-casting huge gunnera leaves into liquified marble dust, Jinny’s finished ‘interior-garden’ was reminiscent of many of the plant exhibits at the Natural History Museum. ‘The tactile quality of the walls I made for Skye Gyngell’s restaurant was the product of my desire to make things with originality and Skye’s love of truthful ingredients. We won a prestigious landscaping award for the atrium’ she said of the project.
We were then treated to a ‘tour of Kenya’, with Jinny speaking about the vulnerable earth of Laikipia, the ground of a landscape unsuited to human vulnerability. This terribly fragile and eroded area is the location for a rhino conversation project, one which encourages landowners to join their estates into migration corridors, as well as developing lodge-schemes for the protection of this endangered animal. It is obvious Jinny is passionate about this cause: ‘If you get to a point where we’re cutting the tusks of rhinos and elephants to protect them you know we’ve gone wrong somewhere as a species…I’m not too fond of the human race’.
Jinny has participated in two Chelsea Flower Shows — experiences she says, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that she could have done without. Her second show at this prestigious occasion was in collaboration with Prince Harry in honour of the AIDs charity he supports. This project was given the green light three days before the deadline for submissions closed. Her high-tech evocation of the landscape of Lesotho, a country where the charity Sentebale works. Jinny described her awkward exchange with a rather bored Queen, an anecdote that everyone laughed at. With every new slide there came an ‘ooh’ or an ‘ahh’ from the audience, proving Johnathan Messum’s introductory analogy accurate: Jinny’s dream of a ‘stadium filled with screaming fans’ had materialised in the form of a sold-out talk, here in Messums’ Long Gallery.
Friday 8 December, 6-9pm Bookings
Join us in the Long Gallery for a Christmas wine tasting with fine wines supplied by The Beckford Bottle Shop. Interesting and knowledgeable, The Beckford Bottle Shop ethos is buying wine should be fun and not intimidating or too serious. Each table will be manned by wine experts, who along with the makers, will assist and inform about the wines which have been carefully selected to offer a great depth of choice. Includes over 80 wines from around the world.
Wednesday 13 December, 6:30pm Bookings
Norman Ackroyd is one of Britain’s foremost landscape artists and is known primarily for his aquatint work which hangs in the Tate and New York’s MoMA. He is also passionate and extremely knowledgeable about the local landscape, having visited and created works of art inspired by the melancholic and laden pools of Fonthill Abbey, home to one of the greatest collectors of their day, William Beckford. A selection of these works hangs in the barn and we are delighted to welcome him to the barn for this informal discussion.
Norman Ackroyd studied at Leeds College of Art from 1956 to 1961, and subsequently at the Royal College of Art, London from 1961 to 1964. Ackroyd has had many solo exhibitions, both in Britain and internationally. Norman Ackroyd was elected a Royal Academician in 1991 and was made Senior Fellow, Royal College of Art in 2000. Ackroyd lives and works in London.
Friday 22 December 2017, 6:30pm, free event Bookings
You are warmly invited to Christmas party with a difference! On Friday 22 December leading sound artist John Del’ Nero and composer Orlando Gough are creating a soundscape about the history of Tisbury and our own 13th century barn using sounds they have recorded locally.
The piece will include speech and song along with natural and mechanical sound. Take part in a unique social and interactive event for all the family. We would like as many people from the village as possible to come and join in, no experience is necessary and we welcome people of all ages. The party is free to attend.
The bar will be open for mulled wine, warm drinks and mince pies.
The finished sound installation will be exhibited here at the barn in 2019 and will be available to buy on CD.
With special thanks to the Tisbury Community Choir
6pm Doors Open
6.30: Introduction to the soundscape by John Del Nero and Orlando Gough
6:40: Performance of an excerpt from the Soundscape
7.00 Carols by Tisbury Community Choir
* A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment.
Saturday 9 December, 11:30am, free event Bookings
After David Sprigg’s talk in the barn, join us in the Long Gallery to celebrate the opening of our Material Light: Glass exhibition with the artists who created the works in the show. Following an introduction by gallery owner Johnny Messum, talk and mingle with the some of the most exciting contemporary British and international artists working in this medium. The show has been curated prioritising those who directly craft their own artwork.
Following the award-winning Judy Pfaff’s colossal sculpture exhibition in the barn. Glass will explore how this powerful medium reflects and supports us literally and more symbolically, through its functionality, utility and practicality…read more
Judy Pfaff’s ‘Roots Up’ installation opened at Messums Wiltshire on 23 September and continues for another month until 26 November. Pfaff was one of the first contemporary ‘installation’ artists – one of a stable of artists working in New York in 1970s who experimented with this medium and ‘Roots Up’ is a continuation of the anti-white wall, ‘maximalist’ narrative common to other artists of her generation, instigated perhaps by the French artist Marcel Duchamp with his Mile of String earlier in 1942. Pfaff’s conversation with material commenced in the 1970s, counter to conceptual and minimalist trends; being ‘one-of-a-kind, room-filling and immersive’. She commented that ‘many, many artists now do similar work. But when I began…not so much’. ‘Roots Up’ is her first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom.
After completing her Master of Fine Art at Yale in 1973, Pfaff created her first large-scale installation which showed at the nonprofit Artists’ Space. Installation artworks often exist as a unified, immersive experience, rather than being comprised of smaller, separate entities, often occupying an entire room or space. The eminent art-historian Linda Nochlin observed of Pfaff’s works that ‘I, the spectator, hardly spectated at all: I was drawn through, around, into the piece’. The installation genre emerged out of environmental art, which was prevalent throughout the late 1950s, and in the next decade asserted itself as the new major strand in international contemporary art.
Pfaff’s pioneering work synthesises sculpture, painting and architecture into dynamic ‘atmospheres’, into which the fabric of space itself seems to expand and collapse. Her work is a complex ordering of visual information, composed of steel, fibreglass and plaster, as well as natural elements such as tree roots; the central focus of Messums’ exhibition. Her wild prodigious creativity combines a delicate filigree of organic roots and steel branches with towering fantail pillars inspired by ecclesiastical architecture. Drops of glass spinning to the floor like gargantuan raindrops fall onto what looks like a neolithic earthworth. Pfaff’s work verge on the edge of chaos but is underpinned by a rigorous order of motifs made up of spheres, helixes and other geometrical shapes.
Perhaps it is obvious to state that Pfaff was one of the very first women artists to work in installation. She was written about in this context by Nochlin, a writer of course known for her revolutionary article ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ and was characterised in 1971 as the ‘most articulate feminist art-historian’. In ‘Judy Pfaff, or the Persistence of Chaos’ (1989), Nochlin identifies a key discourse found in Pfaff’s work, that of ordered chaos; a subject arguably inherited from the Impressionists which was seen in its time as wild. Nochlin realised the relevance of chaos to Pfaff’s achievements and demonstrated how it has often been dismissed as a female trait. ‘The good art-work’, Nochlin wrote, ‘in other words, is cast in the image of masculinity — aggressive, wounding, hard-edged, well defended — as opposed to the “bad” or trivial one, which is feminine by definition — a hodge-podge of unelevated objects thrown helter-skelter, without defence, into a shapeless, feminine receptacle’.
Pfaff found Nochlin’s difference between ‘male’ and ‘female’ chaos particularly insightful, commenting in 2007, ‘the same kind of impulse [chaos] could be recognised as being very powerful and also very flaky. I really liked that conversation. Because when I work, I think most people think it’s just fun. There is so little fun going on that it actually p***** me off. I’m really involved. To have things feel loose takes a sort of thoughtfulness. There’s a rigour in that’. Pfaff’s words live up to her bold and strident work, demanding that ‘Roots Up’, a piece that took two years in the making and two months to install, be placed in the context of chaos’s academic legacy and be used to further the term’s deconstruction. ‘Roots Up’ has arguably met Nochlin’s binary pairs of adjectives somewhere in the middle: it is an installation that is neither ‘aggressive’ or ‘wounding’ nor ‘defensive’ or ‘shapeless’, but is, instead, a balance between chaos’s manifold interpretations.
Pfaff’s work cannot be construed as feminist, radical or otherwise, but it is relevant to the international art world’s much needed catch-up with feminist artists from the 1970s and 1980s, with numerous exhibitions of their artwork showing and selling at Frieze London 2017 for example.
Pfaff has received many awards including the MacArthur Foundation Award; a Bessie; and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has had major exhibitions at Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Denver Art Museum; St. Louis Art Museum; and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. Pfaff represented the United States in the 1998 Bienal de São Paulo. She now lives and works in Tivoli.
Judy Pfaff’s ‘Roots Up’ is on show at Messums Wiltshire until Sunday 26 November.
Photo credit: Iain Kemp Photography