TALK: ‘A Memory of Lies’ by Johnnie Gallop


Friday 16 August, 6:30pm, £10, Bookings

On Friday 16 August, author Johnnie Gallop will join us here at Messums Wiltshire for a talk and signing of his recently published novel A Memory of Lies, a story of family love and a dynastic epic. Taking place across five decades, the characters weave a path for survival through the moral maze of war-torn Europe and emerging Africa. In the end the reader is left considering how the presentation of history morphs over time in light of whichever is the prevailing dogma. How many ‘true’ memories are merely lies?

A Memory of Lies draws influence from Pasternak’s ‘Zhivago’, Archer’s ‘Kane and Abel’, Makine’s ‘A Life’s Music’, and Orwell’s ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’.

Born and raised in a south London suburb, Johnnie left school at 16 and worked for a small private bank in Fleet Street for nearly thirty years. He left banking to take his A levels and then went on to become an undergrad at the London School of Economics reading economic history. Whilst at university Johnnie worked out the plot for A Memory of Lies and decided that it had to be written. He is now working on the sequel and has a third novel in mind. These days Johnnie lives on the Wiltshire/Dorset borders.

There is an option for supper in the Mess Restaurant after the talk. If you wish to book a table phone us on 01747 445042 or email

TALK: ‘In Conversation’ with Photographer Beth Moon

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Friday 30 August, 6:30pm  Bookings

American photographer Beth Moon will join us on Friday 30 August for an ‘in conversation’ about her work and subjects followed by the option of supper in the Mess Restaurant after the talk.

We are delighted to host the first UK presentation of Beth’s work this summer. For over a decade she has been documenting the biggest, oldest and rarest trees in the world. This journey has taken her to desolate mountainsides, private estates and protected lands, where she has made portraits of some of nature’s most majestic giants.

Her work highlights the delicate duality of their existence— as both powerful but also vulnerable to environmental elements and human intervention. Fifteen of Beth’s recent photographs will be shown in the Long Gallery as part of Material: Wood– comprising images of oak trees, baobabs and sequoias, an exquisite body of work and a must-see.

TALK: Wrong end of the stick? The muddied waters between craft, design and fine art – what is the difference and does it matter


Saturday 13 July, 11am  Bookings

Ever since man sat on a log or made a basket or made a bark painting, wood has been the material which man has relied on for both poetic expression and utilitarian function. In this discussion between three of its greatest proponents – Grant Gibson, former Editor of Crafts Magazine; Emma O’Kelly, Editor-at-large of Wallpaper Magazine; and Christopher Kurtz, one of America’s foremost sculptors in wood – discuss the ever muddied waters between craft, design and art – what is the difference and does it matter?.

This event marks the opening of Christopher Kurtz’s solo exhibition here at Messums Wiltshire.

TALK: By Artists-in-Residence Sonia Leber & David Chesworth with Arts Journalist & Broadcaster Fiona Gruber

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Friday 19 July, 6:30pm  Bookings

From 26 June this year Sonia Leber and David Chesworth will be the first artists-in-residence at Messums Wiltshire. During their five week residency the artists will create work in response to the thirteenth century tithe barn and it’s surroundings to be exhibited as part of the Image show in 2020.

Sonia Leber and David Chesworth are known for their distinctive installation artworks, using video, sound, architecture, and public participation. Developed through expansive research in places undergoing social change, Leber and Chesworth’s works are speculative and archaeological, responding to architectural, social, and technological settings. Their highly detailed, conceptual videoworks emerge from the real, but exist significantly in the realm of the imaginary.

Sonia Leber and David Chesworth’s artwork has been shown extensively internationally at exhibitions and Biennales as well as in their home country of Australia.

The talk will be hosted by Fiona Gruber, a Melbourne and London-based arts journalist, essayist, broadcaster and radio documentary maker. She’s written on the arts for many of the major Australian and UK newspapers and art journals including the Australian, Art World Australia, the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. Her work for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National includes a ten part series, Australian Portraits and Art After Death, a look at how the art world deals with the legacy of artists and their works. In 2018 she made the documentary “Creative Couple; Sonia Leber and David Chesworth.” about Messums Wiltshire’s 2019 artists in residence.

Join us for supper in the Mess Restaurant after the talk to meet the artists.

TALK & BOOK LAUNCH: with Author Professor Caroline Dakers ‘Fonthill Recovered – A Cultural History’


Friday 18 May, 6:30pm  Bookings

On Friday 18 May, Caroline Dakers, Professor of Cultural History at Central Saint Martins (University of Arts London) will join us to launch her new book ‘Fonthill Recovered – A Cultural History’ and discuss the legacy of William Beckford’s estate.  Messums Wiltshire was once itself owned by Beckford as part of the Fonthill estate.

Situated less than a mile away from the gallery, the writer and collector William Beckford built his Gothic fantasy house Fonthill Abbey at the end of the eighteenth century. The collapse of the Abbey’s tower in 1825 transformed the name Fonthill into a symbol for overarching ambition and folly.  However Beckford’s Abbey is only one of several important houses to be built on the estate since the early sixteenth century.

Caroline’s recent books include a new edition of Forever England (2016). She has also curated exhibitions at Leighton House Museum, London such as ‘George Aitchison: Leighton’s Architect Revealed’ (2012) and ‘Artists at Home: The Holland Park Circle’ (1999-2000).

Eventbrite - TALK & BOOK LAUNCH: with Author Professor Caroline Dakers 'Fonthill Recovered - A Cultural History'