Beyond the Vessel:
Myths and Metamorphosis in Contemporary Ceramics

22 February – 12 April 2020
PREVIEW: Friday 21 April


A major exhibition of international contemporary ceramic sculpture is opening at Messums Wiltshire from 22 February – 12 April 2020 highlighting the importance of the handmade and ancient mythology in art as a prompt for the imagination. Part of our Ceramics season, which sees exhibitions exploring the many manifestations of the material across our three gallery venues, in Wiltshire and London.

This exhibition, Beyond the Vessel: Myths and Metamorphosis in Contemporary Ceramics will demonstrate how ancient myths have echoed down the generations and now form an exciting new wave of contemporary art inspired by the human characteristics and archetypes they feature.

The show demonstrates the enduring potency of historic narratives manifested in the material of clay – the oldest and most universal artistic material around. It focuses on how clay, often used simply to manufacture vessels and other utilitarian objects, holds the potential of being one of the most delicately wrought and yet powerful in the hands of artists who have exceptional skill and vision, expressing human emotion with the greatest degree of subtlety.

The exhibition includes works by fourteen artists from nine countries in Europe including: Sam Bakewell, Giampaolo Bertozzi and Stefano Dal Monte Casoni, Christie Brown, Phoebe Cummings, Bouke de Vries, Kim Simonsson, Jorgen Haugen Sorensen, Carolein Smit, Hugo Wilson, Klara Kristalova, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen and Vivian van Blerk.

Catalogue essays by Glen Brown, Professor of Fine Art at Kansas University and Paul Greenhalgh, Director of the Sainsbury Centre are featured in a full colour 300-page catalogue featuring photographs by Sylvain Deleu.

In a separate exhibition in the Long Gallery at Messums Wiltshire will be a special focus on works by Michael Flynn whose sculptures are displayed in over 40 museums around the world and Claire Curneen whose work Tending the Fires has recently been bought by the V&A.

Curated by Catherine Milner, the exhibition will be held between 22 February and 5 April at Messums Witlshire and will show how Homeric, German and Norse mythology continues to inspire some of the best ceramic sculpture in Europe.