TALK: Professor Simon Olding in conversation with Sculptor Tim Harrisson

Saturday 21 April 2018, 11am    Bookings

Professor Simon Olding joins us in conversation with sculptor Tim Harrisson to discuss his work, practice and new solo exhibition ‘AS IT WAS IS NOW’ here at Messums Wiltshire.  The pair are long-term colleagues and friends having known each other since Simon worked as museum director at Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth.  Simon commissioned Tim to make the sculpture ‘Horizon’ (pictured) for the museum’s garden which was completed in 1995 and has followed Tim’s exhibitions and developments ever since.

Tim Harrisson has a continued interest in minimalism, landscape and history. He works with the great variety of stone that the British Isles has to offer including locally quarried Chicksgrove limestone and Portland stone.  His much anticipated second sculpture exhibition here at the Barn Gallery is complimented by two-dimensional works on view in the Long Gallery.

Harrisson was born in Essex in 1952 and studied at Hammersmith College of Art (1969-79), Norwich Art School (1970-73) and Byam Shaw School of Fine Art (1975). Harrisson was Sculptor in Residence at the Red House Museum, Christchurch. He has exhibited widely since 1981 and undertaken a number of important commissions. In 2013 the British Museum acquired a selection of his works on paper. Harrisson was elected to the Royal West of England Academy in 2013. He lives and works in Wiltshire.

Professor Simon Olding

Professor Simon Olding leads the MRes Crafts course and is Director of the Crafts Study Centre at UCA Farnham. He’s also Professor of Contemporary Crafts at UCA. Simon has held many senior roles in museums, galleries and art organisations since 1979.

Simon joined the University for the Creative Arts in the year 2002 as Director of the Crafts Study Centre, the university museum of modern craft. He joined the professoriate in 2004 as Professor of Modern Crafts. He leads the MRes Crafts degree and supports the theory and analysis unit for the MA Craft and Design students.

His previous career includes working as a specialist ceramics curator, as a museum director (Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth) as well as periods in agency and advisory work (London Museums Officer and Assistant Director, Area Museums Service for South Eastern England) and as Director of Policy and Research for the Heritage Lottery Fund. After graduating from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, he received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1980.

EVENT: Clay Festival Talks Ticket


Friday 30 – Saturday 31 March 2018  Bookings

Come to the opening night and the talks programme in the barn gallery with our Festival Talks Ticket. The opening night on Friday 30 March we are hosting a talk with Dr Antonia Boström the acting director of collections and research at the V&A.

On the Saturday of our Clay Festival, we will be having demonstrations, talks and audience interactive making sessions by the best potters and makers around, including Sandy Brown, Duncan Hooson and Margaret O’Rorke. We will have a live feed of the details of the demonstration blown up on a large screen. Whilst making the artists will speak about their careers, their artworks as well as their making and practice.

A lunchtime talk will include three of our artists from the current exhibition ‘Material Earth: Myth, Material & Metamorphosis’ artists Claire Curneen, Sam Bakewell and Malene Hartmann Rasmussen will each discuss their work for 15 minutes. The talk will be chaired by Annie Warburton, Creative Director of the Crafts Council.

A Festival Ticket allows access to all demos and the talks in the barn gallery. Complimentary tea, coffee and use of the Friends lounge above the pod is also included. All making workshops in the Long Gallery and the marquee should be booked separately.

The barn talks and events included are:


6-7pm TALK: with Professor Antonia Boström, from the V&A


10-11am TALK: ‘What on Earth is Clay?’ with Duncan Hooson

11:30-12:30pm TALK & DEMO: ‘China in Your Hands’ with Porcelain & Light Artist Margaret O’Rorke

1-1:45pm TALK: ‘3 x 15’ Chaired by Annie Warburton, Creative Director of The Crafts Council

2-3pm TALK & MAKING: ‘Spontaneity Performance’ with Sandy Brown

3:30-4:30pm PERFORMANCE: ‘Reinventing the Wheel’ with Steph Buttle & Duncan Hooson

TALK: ‘3 x 15’ Chaired by Annie Warburton, Creative Director of the Crafts Council

Saturday 31 March, 1pm  Bookings

Taking as its theme the popular format of a short 15 minute insight and talk, chaired by leading thinker Annie Warburton, Creative Director of The Crafts Council.

Join three of the leading artists Claire Curneen, Sam Bakewell and Malene Hartmann Rasmussen from our current exhibition for a talk about their work and practice followed by an interview with Annie Warburton.

Annie started her career in Dublin at the Crafts Council of Ireland and went on to work for a US publisher and launch a digital start up. Annie was CEO at ArtsMatrix and most recently Head of Partnerships at Creative Skillset, the creative industries’ skills council, working with the fashion, textiles, media and publishing industries. Annie read economics and philosophy at the University of Cambridge. She is a Fellow of the RSA and an Associate of Newnham College, Cambridge.

Claire Curneen is one of the UK’s foremost ceramic artists whose oeuvre references Catholic imagery and the early Italian renaissance. She uses porcelain, terracotta and black stoneware to create an exquisite textural finish, dribbling glaze and flashes of gold to accentuate their lavish qualities.

Sam Balewell explores how clay acts as a conduit between the physical truth of earth matter and bodily experience. It connects with the chthonic portion of the mind; an alien substance caught above ground between the dark birthplace and the darker home of the dead.

Malene Hartmann Rasmussen is a Danish artist living in London. She works with mixed media sculpture, making and arranging multiple components into complex narrative tableaux of visual excess. She tries to create a place beyond reality, echoing ancient myths from the Nordic Lands.

DEMO: ‘China in Your Hands’ with Margaret O’Rorke

Saturday 31 March, 11:30am  Bookings

The translucency of fine high-fired porcelain has led Margaret O’Rorke to throw forms which give light. These ideas stem from the nature of the material, forms that can grow from the potter’s wheel, the process of firing and a sense of adventure with light and space. O’Rorke will be demonstrating one of the porcelain forms attached to her beautiful chandelier on display in our medieval barn, using a hand-thrown process on a potter’s wheel.

O’Rorke’s first training was as a painter at the Chelsea School of Art, before taking up pottery at Camberwell. Her fulltime career started later in life, working with translucent porcelain. O’Rorke researches and develops porcelain lights that can be industrially produced for domestic and large scale commercial interiors, whilst continuing to produce her individual studio works. O’Rorke lives and works in Oxford

TALK: ‘What on Earth is Clay?’ with Duncan Hooson

Saturday 31 March, 10am Bookings

Start the Messums Wiltshire Clay Festival with a talk by Duncan Hooson on what actually is clay, what it can be turned into and how to do it! Duncan heads the Ceramics Department at Morley College London and lectures BA Ceramic Design at Central Saint Martins.

To understand the making process it is essential to first understand the material. For example, do you know what clay is actually made of? Or that in being part of making up m’ is one of the oldest building materials on earth. It was also used to create some of the first figurative sculpture.

Today clay is used for making pottery, both utilitarian and decorative, and construction products, such as bricks, wall and floor tiles. Different types of clay, when used with different minerals and firing conditions, are used to produce earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain.

Duncan is most well-known for his large scale thrown ceramics, producing both sculptural forms and functional ware. He also works in mixed media and is an advocate of cross-arts collaboration. He works to private commission and in the public realm, healthcare, museums, libraries and media. He is an author and co-director of Clayground Collective. Duncan has exhibited work nationally and has been told he has ‘clay slip running through his veins’.

TALK: with Ceramicist Joanna Still

Saturday 31 March, 2pm  Bookings

Born in 1951 in Shaftesbury, Dorset, Joanna Still studied first at Aix-en-Provence University, France,
then worked on a trawler in the North Pacific before enrolling at the then renowned studio ceramics
course at Harrow School of Art, graduating in 1976. The starting point for Still throughout her career
has been the potter’s wheel, used in the shaping (or throwing) of round ceramic ware. Once removed
from the wheel, Still applies colour and texture to create distinctive surface variation. The work is
then ‘bisque’ fired to fix the form. At this stage her work is surprisingly pastel-coloured, suggesting
underwater statues blanketed in coral and algae. She lives and works in Wiltshire.

Photo: Iain Kemp Photography

TALK: with author Clare Lilley Vitamin C: ‘Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art’

Saturday 31 March, 6:30pm  Bookings

A global survey of 100 of today’s most important clay and ceramic artists, chosen by leading art world professionals.

Vitamin C celebrates the revival of clay as a material for contemporary visual artists, featuring a wide range of global talent as selected by the world’s leading curators, critics, and art professionals. Clay and ceramics have in recent years been elevated from craft to high art material, with the resulting artworks being coveted by collectors and exhibited in museums around the world. Packed with illustrations, Vitamin C is a vibrant and incredibly timely survey – the first of its kind.

Artists include: Caroline Achaintre, Ai Weiwei, Aaron Angell, Edmund de Waal, Theaster Gates, Marisa Merz, Ron Nagle, Gabriel Orozco, Grayson Perry, Sterling Ruby, Thomas Schütte, Richard Slee, Clare Twomey, Jesse Wine, and Betty Woodman.

TALK: ‘Ceramic Masterpieces of the V&A’ with Dr Antonia Boström, Keeper of Sculpture

Friday 30 March, 6pm  Bookings

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s ceramics collections are unrivalled anywhere in the world. Encyclopaedic and global in scope, they encompass the history of fine ceramic production from about 2500 BC to the present day.  Join us on Friday 30 March for a talk with Dr Antonia Boström, Keeper of Sculpture at the V&A, with a chance to have supper in our new The Mess restaurant afterwards.

Antonia returned to the V&A in January 2016 as Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass, having spent almost twenty years working in American art museums. She started her early museum career at the V&A in the National Art Library and the Sculpture Department, and then worked in art publishing on the Grove Dictionary of Art, and as curator of the permanent collections of the Royal Academy of Art. Having completed her doctoral dissertation in 1996 she joined the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where she co-authored the Catalogue of Italian Sculpture at the Detroit Institute of Arts (2003). In 2004 she moved to the J. Paul Getty Museum as Senior Curator and Head of the Sculpture & Decorative Arts Department and led the reinstallation of permanent collection galleries, the installation of the Fran and Ray Stark Collection of Outdoor Sculpture, and curated several exhibitions, including ‘Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution,’ and ‘Messerschmidt and Modernity’. She moved from the Getty to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City in 2013 as Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Antonia holds BA (Hons) and PhD degrees from the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialized in the collecting and display of Florentine Mannerist sculpture. She has published widely on sculpture, and is editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Sculpture (2004). She is the V&A nominated trustee to the Gilbert Collection and to Museums Sheffield.

If you wish to join us for supper after the talk, tickets are strictly limited so please book early!


Any dietary requirements please make an enquiry at or telephone 01747 445042.

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).