Saturday 2 December — Sunday 4 February 2018

Messums Wiltshire is pleased to announce a new exhibition Material Light: Glass, which opens on the 2nd December.

Showcasing works which highlight the versatility of the material, Material Light: Glass will present pieces both familiar and unconventional: including tableware, vases and installation art. This display follows in our Material series, succeeding exhibits themed around Wood and Earth.

This exhibition will house some of the greatest contemporary glass work by British, European and American artists, following the award-winning Judy Pfaff’s colossal sculpture exhibition in the barn. Glass hopes to explore how this powerful medium reflects and supports us literally and more symbolically, through its functionality, utility and practicality.

We use glass everyday — to alleviate our thirst and to visually access the outside world — yet the medium is often overlooked or indeed it is looked through. In fact, glass contains painterly, sculptural and artistic qualities, making it one of the finest and most technical art forms. Messums Wiltshire’s survey of contemporary glass will also show the ‘fun side’ of material, with brightly coloured and humorous pieces including Hugh Findletar’s ‘Flower Headz’, vases painted with aristocratic and caricatured faces which come to life when filled with flowers. Once they have been acquainted with their fancy floral coiffures, these vase-people are bequeathed an entirely new character, reminiscent of the Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s imaginative vegetable-portraits.

Glass follows in the footsteps of its revival in the contemporary art world, responding to and continuing wonderful events like the British Glass Biennale, the UK’s leading exhibition of excellence in contemporary glass and The Venice Glass Week — the city’s first international festival dedicated to the material. Several of the artists displaying their work in Glass were selected from these two art fairs.

Glass has taken centre stage in national collections such as the unmistakable blue and green ‘Rotunda Chandelier’ created in 2001 for the Grand Entrance room of the Victoria and Albert Museum by Dale Chihuly — an artist also included in our show. His monumental and space-changing work is created from extravagantly blown, richly coloured glass, drawing from the historical tradition of Murano glass work techniques in Venice. There is an abundance of glass-making closer to home in the South-Western region, typified by Salisbury Cathedral’s stained-glass along with their in-house workshop dedicated to restoring and conserving glass and lead lights.

Material Light: Glass will be on show in the Long Gallery. This is a refurbished stable room adjacent to the barn with a long panoramic window, viewing straight onto the rolling hills of the Fonthill Estate.