Christie Brown – Beyond the Vessel – Q&A


What does a day in the studio look like?

A day in the studio can look very different depending on what stage I am at in the making schedule. My press molding process proceeds in episodes: firstly, much research, drawing and sketchbook reflection as to how to realise the ideas; next, the focused labours of polystyrene carving to make new models, followed by the mess and challenge of mold- making. Both processes take several weeks and are critical but laborious. Clay and plaster mix badly so after casting it’s a big spring clean before rolling slabs and assembling sections to build a range of figures. These may relate directly to earlier design drawings or they may evolve more intuitively while building the piece. Long drying times are needed for more complex pieces. Bisque- firing, slip-painting and glazing will also take several days, maybe two or three at a time in the kiln. Sometimes there’s disappointment but more often reward. Then there are days spent packing and doing deskwork. It’s all part of the studio day.

What is your first memory of ceramic?

Not a first memory but a really significant one. After falling for the Leach ideal of stoneware pottery and a self sufficient way of life making pots in the country, I visited the top floor of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and was dazzled by the huge range of ceramic artefacts held in that amazing collection, such as English Slipware, Turkish Isnik pottery, Dutch Delftware and the spectacular Hispano Moresque plates from Moorish Spain, and I realised how much more exciting clay could be than thrown wood-fired faux-Japanese pottery, which in the 1980s was still regarded by many as the ceramic canon, despite the new agendas that were emerging with the work of artists such as Alison Britton, Richard Slee and Jacqui Poncelet.

What was your first use of clay?

I went to a night school in London many years ago and the tutor showed me how to wedge a piece of clay, cut it into small blocks and make pinch pots. I spent the next six classes pinching pots. The process was so absorbing and meditative and provided me with a grounding in understanding the qualities of the material and my relationship with it.

What is the most challenging element to your practice?

It’s sometimes difficult to match the vision with the practice, to make an object that is only half formed in my imagination into a finished object. But it’s important to allow the clay, which is a challenging material, to have its say and contribute to the vision. It’s always a dialogue between maker and material. Also I never have enough space or a big enough kiln.

What is your favourite fable?

I have always been inspired by Greek myths from a young age. Later I began to read Metamorphoses by Ovid, who documents all these stories with such passion and conviction. The story of Prometheus who modeled the human race out of clay is especially significant, as is the tale of the sculptor Pygmalion and his idealised statue Galatea, brought to life by the goddess Athene.

What thing or person is your greatest influence?

The artist Louise Bourgeois has been a constant inspiration to me, as are the animation films of the Quay Brothers who are able to visualise the dream world with such uncanny precision. When I first saw Street of Crocodiles and Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies I felt they had entered my unconscious while I was sleeping and invaded my dreams.

What is the relevance of myth today?

Myths are a constant source of knowledge and wisdom if only the post-modern global world would listen to what they have to say. They can both delight and alarm us, thrill us and warn us of dangers, and offer a sense of continuity with history and a way forward.

Are you an artist or a ceramicist?

Artist

What is the relevance of ceramics today?

Ceramics and all things clay is a constant force in our lives wherever we come from. The earth is largely composed of clay and there are countless myths of origin that revolve around this material. The transformation from clay to ceramic is a story from long ago when nomadic people began to settle and develop communities. Clay objects have been part of human existence ever since, and they are key to archaeology’s understanding of how our ancestors lived. Ceramics continues to form part of our daily lives from domestic functional objects and decorative art to objects of ritual and symbolic artworks. As a material for sculpture clay carries a range of references that are both ancient and contemporary. It feels important always to keep examining history as a way to learn about ourselves and how we can improve the way we evolve.

What is the argument for learning / honing technical skills in today’s world?

The ongoing human need for some kind of tactile hands on experience with no commercial or technological outcome offers emotional benefits and contributes to the way we experience ourselves in the world.

Have we moved beyond the need to make with our hands?

Not at all. Technology is crucial and beneficial in so many ways but making by hand provides a welcome balance for anyone who gives it a go.

Why do you think ceramics is becoming popular amongst today’s youth?

For many younger people the new technologies that have developed in the last couple of decades are simply a useful everyday asset, which has always been there in their lives. The smartphone has taken its place alongside various other convenient inventions. This one is however so radical that its possible dangers of alienation and stagnation are becoming more apparent and as a result the need for activity and hands on practice becomes more necessary and appeals to many young people as a way to reconnect with material process.

Why do you think there is such an international vogue for ceramics today?

Working with clay is an immediate and alluring process, despite the mess, or maybe because of it. Its unformed quality allows a freedom that has been recently welcomed and embraced in the art world, where new technology has became just another tool for making art, alongside all the others. Process was slowly returning as a mainstream method of art practice when Rachel Whiteread first cast beds and chairs in the 1980s, even though video was the latest trend at that time. The art world is inclined to be fashion-led however and so for the moment clay people are having their time in the sun, but it was Klara Kristalova who said she chose ceramics because she didn’t want to have to engage with “important art” and so maybe its still seen as a non-serious material with which to express the playful child within us all, as it was in the early 20th century when painters such as Gauguin made ceramics. The fine artists using clay at the moment, as opposed to the artists using clay who have been trained to use it, are enjoying this freedom and even using their lack of skill to create artworks that present this as a conceptual appropriation. Meanwhile many artists who have more skill because they began with a medium-specific training may still find themselves marginalised as a result, as if craft and skill lessen the ability to have a strong concept. But the great thing is we are having all these conversations now and that is very productive and welcome.

Who is your hero or heroine?

Louise Bourgeois

Name a book that everyone should read and why?

The recent Man Booker winner, Milkman by Anna Burns really blew me away, because it not only tells a personal story about growing up and seeking identity from a subjective angle, through its stream of consciousness heroine’s train of thought, but it does so within the context of a recent war zone, and I for one had very little idea just how tough it must have been growing up in Belfast in the 1970s. Burns is challenging the usual narrative associated with contemporary novels. This book is nothing to do with clay but it’s very stimulating. Another good read is The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollop which was written in 1875 but is very relevant in these present greedy times. I also rate Carl Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which was a huge influence on my own search for identity as a person and as an artist.

Why is your studio where it is and what does it mean to you?

My studio is at home for economic reasons. I have two spaces, one an upstairs room for drawing, sketchbook work and research, the other a space built off the back of the house for making and firing. I am lucky to own my house and be able to build these spaces for my work but if I could afford a larger external space that would be ideal. At home the dust of my practice creeps into the living space and the studio is never big enough.

What technological or other advances have made you able to push the boundaries of your material / practice?

Paint-on glazes!

What is the biggest problem or challenge you see with ceramics today?

The demise in recent years of ceramic courses in UK universities has thankfully resulted in a rise in small private classes, group workshops for tuition and even a Clay College in Stoke on Trent. There is little to be done in the current climate to encourage the government to offer more support to non-commercial occupations such as art and we therefore all have to build on what is left and look to the future with a positive approach. However the reduction in the numbers of BA Ceramics graduate students who possess a high level of technical knowledge and skill may unfortunately start to have an effect over the next few years.

Why do you think ceramics has endured from ancient times?

The material clay is beyond ancient. It’s archetypal.

Who would be in your ceramics collection?

Kim Simonsson, Stephen de Staebler, Daisy Youngblood, Carmen Dionyse, Johan Tahon and a few others!

What would you make if money were no object?

Firstly I would apply to the EKWC for a residency and to take advantage of their technical support and very large kilns. I’d also have a large studio where I could make big drawings to reflect the narrative quality of my work. But as I also have an interest in bronze and other materials from time to time I would take a work like My Desk from my 2012 Freud Museum exhibition and employ fabricators to help me scale it up and cast it in or plaster, but I would then maybe paint it so it looked like a very large ceramic work.

What is your philosophical approach to making?

It’s what gives my life some meaning.

      

Beyond the Vessel exhibition page…view details

Beyond the Vessel exhibition catalogue…buy now

Bertozzi & Casoni – Beyond the Vessel – Q&A


What does a day in the studio look like?

We start the day very early because the studio is on average 30 minutes by car for both of us. We work from 8:30 to 18:30 and we work on projects that are on the go at the time.

What is your first memory of ceramics?

For both of us the first memory of the ceramic material dates back to our entrance to the Ceramics Institute of Faenza.

What was your first use of clay?

The first projects that envisaged the use of ceramic material date back to 1979 when we began to make the first sculptural experiments in the context of a group that was formed in those years between Faenza and Bologna called the New Pottery that tried to free the ceramic material from the cage of the traditional. Franco Solmi the director at the time of the Modern Art Gallery in Bologna, and Marilena Pasquali made projects that highlighted this new way of using ceramics that at least in our case focused on art. This brought a wave of novelty, and exhibitions such as Il Lavoro Felice, at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Faenza in 1980 and Terra d’Italia at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Ancona in 1983 were a part of this period.

What is the most challenging element to your practice?

The most challenging element is to be able to continue the thread through which our work moves.

What is your favourite fable?

Pinocchio.

What thing or person is your greatest influence?

The passion for what we do is the thing that most affects our life.

What is the relevance of myth today?

We can’t quite explain that, but we think that the classical world is the root from which art today should find nourishment, and recognise itself within a historical path to have a base for the possibility change.

Are you an artist or a ceramicist?

What we do is addressed to the art world, but the technique we work with is very important and is for us a language that allows us to shape our thoughts.

What is the relevance of ceramics today?

Ceramics is used by artists today in a freer and more conscious way. When we started it was the 1980s and there was a strong prejudice on those who worked mainly with ceramics; people immediately thought of it as a product belonging more to the world of craftsmanship than to art. Today it is used for its very important expressive and mimetic potentialities.

What is the argument for learning / honing technical skills in today’s world?

We believe that in order to refine technical skills today, constant daily work and the search for new stimuli are important, just as it was in the past.

Have we moved beyond the need to make with our hands?

The new technologies give the illusion that you can do anything you like without developing particular skills such as those you’d need to make things with your hands. The same thing happened between photography and painting, where you thought you could do everything without any use for brushes or drawing. But instead as we’ve seen photography presenting new possibilities as an additional instrument that enabled us to advance even further, pushing the boundaries of our imagination.

Why do you think there is such an international vogue for ceramics today particularly amongst the younger generation?

The popularity of ceramics among young people is due to its nature that is very close to the most basic experience of humankind on earth and to the fact that in art it is a material to be discovered further, with still much to give. We also think that ceramics is a material that is relatively new in its use in contemporary art.

Who is your hero or heroine?

We don’t know, unfortunately our age leads us to think that there are no heroes or heroines, but we all try to survive in a world of distraction.

Name a book that everyone should read and why?

If this is a Man by Primo Levi. We think it’s a book to read and reread for all future generations to keep alive the memory of the horror that humans can inflict on each other.

Why is your studio where it is and what does it mean to you?

Our studio has been in Imola since 1980 because our roots are there. We realised over time that it is also very important to remain connected with the rest of the world, but we think maintaining a firm base in our cultural background has strengthened our work.

What technological or other advances have enabled you to push the boundaries of your material / practice?

The technological advances that have allowed us to overcome some limits come from the industrial field. Unfortunately, today there is no more advanced research done in ceramics as it is a sector that is funded in such a limited way and not as appealing as art or crafts and therefore we necessarily had to turn to the research done in the industrial field.

What is the biggest problem or challenge you see with ceramics today?

The problem we see in ceramics when used in a conceited manner is the trivialisation of technique. The challenge
is to restore its status so it finds its rightful place next to numerous other techniques used in art.

Why do you think ceramics has endured from ancient times?

Because it is the material closest to humans in their most flexible and versatile conditions, even if today the techniques have brought it to unimaginable levels of engineering.

Who would be in your ceramics collection?

We don’t have the spirit to be a collectors but if we had to think about a work done with ceramics to keep with us we would think of some pottery by Paul Gauguin.

What would you make if money were no object?

If we had limitless money we could produce ideas that would be unexpected today.

What is your philosophical approach to making?

Our approach to work is the same as any other work, we believe, we give timetables and deadlines, the only difference is probably that we are never detached from it, the thought is always projected into the work, the senses are all connected to find quadrature to problems that exist only within us, but that perhaps concern us all.

         

Beyond the Vessel exhibition page…view details

Beyond the Vessel exhibition catalogue…buy now

Sam Bakewell – Beyond the Vessel – Q&A


What does a day in the studio look like?

Dysfunctional probably. I’d say it might seem like there’s no logic to it, and sometimes no making at all. Probably more thinking and worrying about making than making. Testing things. Generally, the end of the day being the most productive.

What is your first memory of ceramic?

Not ceramics, but clay. Digging it up in the back of our garden in Somerset when I was around six, in an area my Dad kind of gave over to me. I remember the sensation of being lost and out of myself; of something that felt like power, probably through the ability to create and then destroy again. But also perhaps, like something was being channeled. I think this is what I would now label as the chthonic element of clay, the earth/death god sense of it. Also, I’d say the shit/dirt aspect was highly intoxicating as well. So therefore, pretty sexy too, though obviously before sex was on the radar.

What was your first use of clay?

A fish slab at school, with pressed scales when I was six. Followed by many dragons, sumo wrestlers, gremlins and the like once Dad had convinced the local college to let me attend the adult evening class when I was eight, with him acting as my foil. From there I just tried to follow a path through school and beyond where I could keep making things in clay with as little thought as possible to where it might go.

I was very lucky to have a line of incredibly open-minded teachers who pretty much encouraged any idea I might have. On my foundation course, after drying out porcelain-slip filled sheep’s lungs (I was on a negative-space-Rachel Whiteread trip) which had stank out the classroom for weeks, we fired them. They caught fire and burnt out the kiln and the fire brigade had to put it out. Amongst all the departmental hysteria my teacher Nick quietly whispered in my ear “Don’t worry, I’ve saved them. We’ll re-fire tomorrow!”. I still have that broken, but very beautiful, white, bronchial tree.

What is the most challenging element to your practice?

Self-validation. Keeping a desire to make things in the face of their redundancy once up for sale.

What is your favourite fable?

I’ve sat and thought about this for 30 minutes now, and nothing is sticking. And that’s more due to myth’s and fables being such a big part of my childhood and life since that, that I can’t choose just one. Religion fits into this too. Storytelling involving the spiritual, supernatural or “the other” in all its guises has always filled my head. But I’m afraid I have no favourite to single out.

What thing or person is your greatest influence?

That’s too hard. I couldn’t choose, the net is too wide.

What is the relevance of myth today?

More than ever I imagine. The particular escapism it allows for and the means in which it conveys a wider, more ancient sense of truth than the ones currently proliferated. Things that are removed from the terrible state of contemporary life seem appealing to me. But myths also acting
as reminders of past lessons, and of the vastness of time so as not to get too caught up in the present.

Are you an artist or a ceramicist?

This distinction is not something I engage with, as the conversation can only end up being reductive.

What is the relevance of ceramics today?

As much as ever, to me at least.

What is the argument for learning / honing technical skills in today’s world?

Again, this type of question over art/ craft/skill isn’t something I engage in. It’s generally something that’s used to divide or classify, and I have too many things I want to make, without a need to pigeonhole them.

Have we moved beyond the need to make with our hands?

I can only speak for myself, so the answer’s no. It defines who I am and how I think of myself. I couldn’t speak for anyone else though.

Why do you think there is such an international vogue for ceramics today?

I think ceramics has always been popular whenever the techniques or materials are available to people. It’s more been the lack of institutional facilities and staff due to budget constraints that limited its exposure to certain generations at certain points. It’s also cyclical, like all aspects of visual culture. The use of clay comes in and out
of fashion, this is just another high period. It was the same 30 years ago, and before that the same.

Who is your hero or heroine?

Alison Britton

Name a book that everyone should read and why?

Ted Hughes’s Gaudete. It’s guttural, psychedelic, confusing, telling and amazingly descriptive as with everything he wrote.

Why is your studio where it is and what does it mean to you?

Presently it’s in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as a result of the 9-month Ceramics residency I’m halfway through here. It’s a world away from my regular studio on the other side of London at the back of a communal railway arch. The V&A residency studio is built into the Museums galleries on the top floor, full of light and space, but very exposed. I’m behind glass; another exhibit to be looked at. But it’s incredible to work surrounded by a specific view of history as seen through one material. So presently my studio means total re-evaluation. My normal studio is a place to surround myself with things that keep me ticking over. Somewhere to hide away a bit and think.

What technological or other advances have made you able to push the boundaries of your material / practice?

Technology is something I try to disengage with as much as possible within reason. It’s certainly not something that I wish to bring into my work out of choice at this point. I’m much happier taking time and figuring out a way to do things myself, as inefficient as this might be.

What is the biggest problem or challenge you see with ceramics today?

The persistence for Ceramics to keep talking about Ceramics in seclusion.

Why do you think ceramics has endured from ancient times?

Adaptation

Who would be in your ceramics collection?

I’m lucky enough to have a lot of clay works I want from friends. Some Peruvian slipware? A Miro egg? A small Ian Godfrey could easily find a good home with me.

What would you make if money were no object?

Currently a huge reduction gas kiln would pretty much solve a lot of my sizing issues, but in general I don’t believe in massive art holding much purpose.

What is your philosophical approach to making?

I don’t really think about what I’m doing in the abstract like that. I’d rather just get on with the making itself. Different ideas suit different approaches, but I think I try not to have a general mantra.

Sam_Bakewell_bv-2099 Sam_Bakewell_bv-2099

Beyond the Vessel exhibition page…view details

Beyond the Vessel exhibition catalogue…buy now

EVENT: Tim Harrisson Sculpture to Move to Nadder Centre


Tim Harrisson’s limestone sculpture ‘Silent Rhythm’ is moving from the Messums Wiltshire sculpture garden to it’s permanent new home outside the Nadder Centre, Tisbury.⁠

The work has been commissioned by Wiltshire Council, supported by C G Fry and Son Ltd and working with Messums Wiltshire to further highlight the development of the Nadder Centre for Tisbury and the collective endeavour in the surrounding area. ⁠

The unveiling is at the Nadder Centre on Saturday 28 September at 10am and a brief talk by the artist followed by refreshments.⁠

EXHIBITION: Beyond the Vessel at Mesher Gallery, Istanbul


13 September – 22 December 2019

Clay sculpture, in all its diversity, enraptured guests at the opening of Messums’ first exhibition in Istanbul; Beyond The Vessel, Myth, Legends and Fables in contemporary ceramics around Europe. Held at the Mesher gallery in the heart of the city and curated by Catherine Milner from Messums and Karoly Aliotti from the Vebhi Koc Foundation, the show champions 13 of the best sculptors working in clay from around Europe – from London to the forests of Finland to the archipelagos of Denmark and the plains of Northern Italy. The exhibition establishes clay sculpture as one of the most exciting new movements in contemporary art whilst drawing on its most ancient roots.

Malene_Hartmann_Rasmussen_photo_Sylvain_DeleuSculptures of gorgons and trolls, Minotaurs and dogs of war are coupled with some of the most remarkable craftsmanship you can see in the world today. The show covers the full panoply of styles and techniques, from the gestural and impressionistic to the exacting and precise in works where clay has been so deftly handled that it is often hard to believe that the works are made from the material at all. Advances in 21 st century technology and the ingenuity of the artists mean that some of the works are as green and furry as moss while others as shiny and plastic looking as yoghurt pots; one section features simply 23 clods of clay looking variously like ice cream, butter, human skin and elephant hide – all testifying to the unrivalled mimetic properties of this wonderfully versatile ancient material.

Artists in the show include: Sam Bakewell, Bertozzi and Casoni, Vivian van Blerk, Christie Brown, Phoebe Cummings, Klara Kristalova, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, Elsa Sahal, Kim Simonsson, Carolein Smit, Jorgen Haugen Sorensen, Bouke de Vries and Hugo Wilson.

The exhibition will continue at Messums Wiltshire 22 February to 5 April 2019

 

Photos: Sylvain Deleu

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 2019

Saturday morning brought the opening of a new exhibition in the barn at Messums Wiltshire, featuring New York’s Hudson Valley based Christopher Kurtz’s work, titled, ‘The Traveller cannot see North, but knows that the needle can’.

The exhibition opened up a conversation that has long been discussed: where are the boundaries between fine art; craft; design or should there be any such categorisation at all? We invited Grant Gibson, former editor of Crafts Magazine, Emma O’Kelley, Editor-at-Large of Wallpaper magazine, to talk alongside Christopher Kurtz and Messums Wiltshire curator Catherine Milner, to discuss the extent of cross collaboration between these disciplines.

Catherine Milner opened the discussion using a quote from Glenn Adamson, a leading US commentator on this topic, from his essay precursing this exhibition. ‘For all of its undoubted benefits, modern industrial life has also entailed many losses,’ going on to add that craft is one of the many things that has been lost, certainly in the education system in this country.

Throughout the talk there was a variation of opinion on why the boundaries between art and craft were perhaps muddied, some views more sceptical than others. Grant Gibson refers to a current phase, whereby craftsmen are entering into the fine art world in order to add a few more zeros to their price tags. Although it is inevitable to talk of craft as a dying trade, it was noted that we are seeing an increasing number of people in the sphere of fine art using a variation of materials, one only needs to look at Grayson Perry and Edmund de Waal to see the trend.

Emma O’Kelley argued that this was an increasing movement, certainly not of temporary status, that looking at events such as the Milan Furniture Fair, craftsmen show their works as pieces of design or perhaps even art. Likewise at the Venice Biennale, artists and artisans alike are displaying their cross collaboration of works all together in the same context.

Christopher Kurtz spoke from personal experience, noting, “the distinctions have never really meant much to the artists themselves”. As much as fairs and exhibitions would like to categorise pieces, eventually for craftsmen such as himself, the motivations that bring him to create a chair or table, are the same to those that motivate him to create what would traditionally considered as ‘art’. For Kurtz, it is fairly black and white when it comes to classifying his work. Simply, good or bad, successful or not.

Christopher Kurtz fervently argued in defence of crafts not being a lost art. He spoke of his own story, first learning basic traits from building an extension on his family home during his childhood, then the early years of his career working in his basement with basic tools. “Speaking to young people, I would say, there is a huge appetite for being able to manipulate materials with your hands.” He asserted that despite what might seem the reduction of services for makers, there is something to be said for the rebellious streak that many artists possess. That not having the perfect facility might actually aid the development of a craftsman or artist, rather than hinder it.

 

 

Artists-in-Residence Sonia Leber and David Chesworth’s blog – Week 1


1 Sonia_Leber_David_Chesworth_3000px_blogpost_1 (web)

“Sonia Leber and David Chesworth are cultural investigators, landing lightly in foreign territory, weighed down only with a mixed bag of pre-entry research, a camera, some sound equipment and a couple of laptops. The work they are going to make is out there waiting; images and events to be re-interpreted, re-framed, recorded and edited.” – Fiona Gruber

“As Messums first artists in residence, we have arrived in Wiltshire via projects in the arid Australian outback, post-Soviet Russia, a factory that used to print the daily news, a Finnish fortress and the futuristic house of an Australian progressive society. The diversity of settings for our past projects has enabled us to create vastly different projects, mostly involving video, but always with a deep concern for sound and listening.

Here in Wiltshire, we have encountered an isolated hillside covered in an array of mounds that turned out to be anthills. Hidden colonies of yellow meadow ants create these temperate mounds to attract their food source from aphids, allowing the ants to remain inside, stealthily unseen and nurtured by the incoming aphids.

As we travel about, we have returned to this lumpy hillside twice, and it serves as a metaphor for our forthcoming project – a prompt for the unseen activity that lurks beneath the visible. Our project will emerge from the reality of Wiltshire, but it will be developed in the realms of the imaginary, sensation and concept.

We have also been out traversing the chalk pathways with local bike riders, encountering edgy flint and a whole range of flora including masses of spikey and stinging plants, as though the right to walk has first got to be negotiated through these challenges.“

Arts journalist, essayist, broadcaster and radio documentary maker Fiona Gruber will be interviewing the artists in residence on Friday 19th July at 6:30pm at Messums Wiltshire.

Leber and Chesworth’s works have been shown in the central exhibitions of the 56th Venice Biennale ‘All the World’s Futures’ (2015) and the 19th Biennale of Sydney ‘You Imagine What You Desire’ (2014); and a parallel exhibition of the 5th Moscow Biennale (2013).

A full project history can be found at leberandchesworth.com

Festival of the Spoken Word 2019


Friday 5 – Sunday 7 July 2019

Jade Cuttle

The rawness and direct power of the spoken word can make for some sensational goose-bump moments. With that in mind, our festival of spoken word began on a balmy Friday evening with our audience, surrounded by the ancient structure of our thirteenth century barn, seated informally around scattered tables, glasses of wine in hand. It was in this spirit of an open-air jazz café that Jade Cuttle performed her ‘poem-songs’, composed from the inspiration she draws from nature, accompanied by her guitar. Ben Norris seamlessly followed this with a few of his performed poems, both personal and relatable, his work was amusing and sobering and is testimony to the power of good story telling. Friday evening culminated in the excellent food of the Mess Restaurant laid out in the barn, poets, performers and audience members dining together.

Suede bassist & author Mat Osman

The relaxed atmosphere and good weather flowed over into our Saturday events which began with a fascinating workshop lead by Tristram Fane Saunders equipping us with some creative exercises for producing some unique metaphors. ‘Why speak when you can sing’ with Tariq Goddard, Ryan Donnelly and Nathalie Olah comprised of a fascinating panel discussion following a performance by Ryann and a reading by Nathalie. In the afternoon Tristram, winner of the 2018 new poets prize and commissioning editor for the Telegraph, performed from his new chapbook ‘Woodsong’ published this June. Jade joined with some more dulcet sung verse which culminated in a Q & A.  Next, Matt Osman, the bassist and founding member of Suede, discussed his new book ‘The Ruins’ with publisher Tarriq Goddard. This insightful discussion revealed Matt’s writing process and his experience of performing music as opposed to the intimacy and honesty of writing. As Saturday afternoon turned into evening Ben Norris performed more from his book ‘Some Ending’, the honesty and beauty of which ignited the focus of the room.

Poetry Takeaway

Though The Poetry Takeaway worked tirelessly throughout the day creating personalized poems they still managed to inject a superb energy into their performances which were funny, chippy, sexy and truly wonderful. This was followed by the talented Sugar J and Bump Kin, a truly singular duo that fuses hip-hop with poetry, musical beats and spoken rhythm. The final performance of the day was the warm and witty Laurie Bolger. Laurie’s poems capture those relatable moments of sharing something with someone you have never met, a moment or a meltdown, they are the stories of ordinary and extraordinary life.

Our festival of Spoken Word was beautifully ended by a truly engaging workshop by Caroline Goyder. After two days of being submerged in the joy of listening it was perfectly fitting that the audience left equipped with the tools for bringing their own voice to life.

Representation of Australian Artist Daniel Agdag


Announcement

We are delighted to announce that Messums will now represent the Australian artist Daniel Agdag in Europe and North America. Following his sell-out show here at Messums Wiltshire, Daniel’s collection of intricate scalemodels can be viewed at our sister gallery Messums London in Cork Street until this Friday 12 July.

Daniel is an artist and filmmaker based in Melbourne, Australia, whose practise sits at the nexus of sculpture and motionography. He creates highly detailed sculptural pieces that have been described as architectural in form, whimsical and antiquated in nature and inconceivably intricate.

Daniel predominately works in cardboard. Drawn to its utilitarian origins and monochromatic presentation, he creates a paradox of fragility and strength with structures that resemble architectural forms and machines by utilising a medium that is essentially paper and preserving them under glass vitrines or bell jars.

Whilst his work is predominantly realised in cardboard he has made work in steel, wood and glass in recent years as part of translating his elaborate ideas into large scale public art sculptures, in 2014 he completed a large-scale public commission ‘The Inspector’ in Abbotsford, Melbourne.

The son of Armenian immigrants, Daniel Agdag studied Fine Art before his interest in moving image drew him to filmmaking. He received a Masters in Film and Television from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2007.

He has exhibited solo shows in Melbourne and New York and been presented at several international art fairs: Melbourne Art Fair; Sydney Contemporary; Art Central Hong Kong; VOLTA Basel; Art Fair Tokyo. His work is held in private collections in the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and Europe. He has completed several private commissions, notably for Hermès Paris.

See more of Daniel’s work
Daniel’s exhibition at Messums London

Our First Artists-in-Residence at Messums Wiltshire


0a_Sonia_Leber_David_Chesworth_Universal_Power_House_0234_FIN (events page)

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.

On Friday 19 July, towards the end of their stay Sonia Leber and David Chesworth will join us for a talk 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.

Click here to book a ticket for the talk.

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