TALK: Collectors and Curators: Following form – where should contemporary collectors be looking today?


Saturday 27 January, 6pm  Bookings

On 27 January at 6pm we are having a Collectors and Curators Talk: Following form – where should contemporary collectors be looking today? *By ‘following form’ we allude to the trends in glass making and whether one should follow them so to speak; artistically, financially even politically etc.  A panel talk with Angel Monzon from Vessel Gallery and Mark Holford, a private collector.

DEMO: with Glassmaker David Barry


Sunday 27 January, 10:30am  Bookings

With David Barry, the Hot Floor Manager at Bristol Blue Glass for 7 years starting at the age of 19. He specialises in sculpture work, ranging from dolphins, fish, elephants or swords. David will kindly be demonstrating a traditional English wine glass and a glass sculpture of a sword!


DEMO: with James Devereux

Sunday 28 January, 11:30am  Bookings

James specialises in working with hot glass, adept at working with solid forms as well as blown pieces. James works with an extensive knowledge of glass techniques, making him happy to undertake new challenges. James will use the cane technique, picked up on a colour bubble and spun out into a work of art.

Starting in the industry at the age of 15, Devereux showed a natural talent for the craft and has been working as a glass artist ever since.

In September 2008 Devereux opened his first Studio set in the inspiring Wiltshire countryside. In 2009 Devereux started as the glass technician at the Royal College of Art in London, This roll opened up vast new contacts and opportunities that are still a core of his career to date.

After leaving in London in 2013 Devereux and Huskie set up a new studio together. To this day the studio has gone from strength to strength and attracts some of the finest glass artist in the country.

A high skill level, technique and a good eye help make Devereux one of the up and coming glass craftsmen in the glass world today.

TALK: Craft or Fine Art – what best represents Glass today?

Sunday 28 January, 12:30pm  Bookings

During a break over lunch, starting at 12.30pm there will be a Balloon Debate with Emma Woffenden, nominated for the V&A Womens’ Hour Craft Prize; Cathryn Shilling, glass artist and curator at London Glass Blowing; James Devereux, hot-glass specialist; and Dante Marioni, an internationally renowned maker. The question will be Craft or Fine Art – what best represents Glass today?

DEMO: with Katherine Huskie, Glass Specialist


Sunday 28 January, 1:30pm  Bookings

With Katherine Huskie, a specialist in blown glass, has worked from numerous different makers around the country. Katherine also spent a year working in Australia, where she travelled between glass-blowing studios working for a range of makers. Katherine will be making a bowl with worked decoration, trails ‘squished into textured lines’.

DEMO: with Glassblower Elliot Walker

Sunday 28 January, 2:30pm  Bookings

With Elliot Walker, one of a handful of glass-blowers in the world who focus solely on figurative sculpture. Sculpting in molten glass is known as the Messello technique, and working this way requires extreme dexterity, speed and precise temperature control. Elliot will be demonstrating a Venetian glass technique known as the ‘Bird inside an egg…’

He chooses to sculpt in glass mainly for the material’s immediacy and transparency and for the intensity of the sculpting experience.

“The process itself is very physically and mentally challenging. Once you begin a piece you have to see it through to the end in one session. You are exposed to temperatures of over 1000 degrees and the process of coaxing a complex form out of the liquid glass is unlike working with any other material. The pieces are not cast, carved or ground into shape, but modelled from a cooling liquid so that until the very last second the sculpture is a moving living entity, frozen in time as the glass sets.”

He has been awarded the Frederic Stuart memorial fund by the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers and his work is represented in the Broadfield House Museum collection.

He has exhibited widely throughout the UK and is also a member of a glassblowing demonstration/performance team, called The Bandits of Glass.

DEMO: with Dante Marioni

Sunday 28 January, 3:30pm  Bookings

We are thrilled to announce our mystery guest artist is Dante Marioni, one of the foremost internationally acclaimed glassblowers. Marioni burst onto the international glass scene at the age of 19 with a signature style that has been described as the “purest of classical forms executed in glass.” Marioni trained in centuries-old Venetian glassblowing techniques with some of the greatest masters in contemporary glass. His graceful blown-glass vessels are internationally recognized for their intense, vibrant colors and sophisticated classic design.

Marioni has exhibited in major galleries and museums such as the Bellevue Art Museum, Washington and the American Craft Museum, New York. In 1995, he was invited to the Clinton White House as part of an exhibition. His works are in major collections and museums throughout the world including, the New Zealand National Museum of Art (Wellington); the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC); and the Yokohama Museum of Art (Japan).

Interview with Canadian artist David Spriggs

By Paula Tegerdine

International artist David Spriggs has filled Messums Wiltshire with beauty and light.
Material Light with its centrepiece ‘Vision II’ standing six metres high saw David packing a year’s worth of work into four months to complete.
Exhausted but happy, he said: “I really feel this is one of the best exhibitions I have ever done – it’s a major accomplishment for me.”
Material Light is on exhibition until February 4 at the monastic barn in Tisbury – now regarded as one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary art spaces.
David said: “I abandoned everything to do this. A lot of exhibition spaces try to have neutral architecture, like White Cube, but here I wanted to work with the architecture.
“Here there is a certain calmness which I like. For me, showing at Messums is significant – the barn has so much history and the architectural structure really lends itself to this.
“The architecture frames the work and the piece would not exist without the architecture – it’s integral to the space.
David grew up in Cheshire, moving with his family to Vancouver when he was 14, and Material Light is his first exhibition in the UK. Having been invited to exhibit, David responded with light and beauty, referencing Stonehenge and the area’s unique heritage.
His artworks Polar, Antithesis, Gravity, Enigma and Cloud columns also explore the ephemeral – a direction begun with his first Cloud created in 2000.
For Vision he used an airbrush to paint 45 transparencies, which if placed end to end, would cover the side of a skyscraper.
He said: “’Vision II’ suggests thinking about the act of perception. There is a power relationship with you and the piece. As the viewer walks round it they are building the image in their mind. It’s almost as if form is creating itself as the viewer walks around.
“There is a feeling of contraction and explosion. Even though it’s static it does not feel static – there is constant tension in the energy.
“When you think of what a prism does it’s a transparent form that separates light into different colours. Transparency, colour and power are topics I’m exploring and the idea of the ephemeral and the immaterial. I feel like I’m feeling in the dark and finding an idea.
“I feel there has been an abandonment of beauty in contemporary art – people dismiss it. You can still have beauty and have conceptual meaning. I want people to feel something when they see my work.
“It’s not neutral and if someone walks into a gallery and the first thing they say is they don’t understand it I feel the artist has not done a good job. If art is communication you really have to feel something – it’s not something you have to put into words – it’s a feeling and experience.
He said: “One thing with all my works is when we think of sculpture it is a process with a definite boundary. This has a sense of no boundaries to it. The Futurist idea of the form belonging to everything around it, here becomes a layered space to form and light falls off. Light spills off so there’s no boundaries to the form.”
He said: “I want my work to be positive and to inspire people. A lot of work is doom and gloom and there is no feeling in it.”

The Poetry Pharmacy – with William Sieghart CBE

Saturday 13 January, 6:30pm  Bookings

William Sieghart’s Poetry Pharmacy began in 2014; since then, he has prescribed over 1,000 poems which speak to every human state, honing his prescriptions all the time to make the definitive selection.  Sieghart speaks to the growing audience discovering self-help available through the power of verse and has collated the works in to a new book.

William Sieghart CBE, has had a distinguished career in publishing and the arts. He established the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 1992, and founded National Poetry Day in 1994. He is a former chairman of the Arts Council Lottery Panel, and current chairman of both the Somerset House Trust and Forward Thinking, a charity seeking peace in the Middle East and acceptance of British Muslims. His previous anthologies include Winning Words: Inspiring Poems for Everyday Life, Poems of the Decade and 100 Prized Poems. He was awarded a CBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours for services to public libraries.

“Rightly resituates poetry in relation to its biggest and most serious task: helping us to live and die well.”
Alain de Botton

“I have read and reread The Poetry Pharmacy and simply adore it. There is balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, an arm around the lonely shoulder – the whole collection is a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss. I cried at least five times. You have solved my Christmas present problem for the year.”
Stephen Fry

Norman Ackroyd CBE RA — Engraving with Acid

On 13 December 2017 the seminal British etcher Norman Ackroyd joined us at Messums Wiltshire in our 13th century barn for a talk on his life and work, interviewed by curator Catherine Milner. The event was split into thirds: commencing with a short documentary by the BBC following a ‘day-in-the-life-of’ Ackroyd as part of their ‘What Do Artist’s Do All Day?’ series, with questions from Milner and the audience thereafter.

Ackroyd studied at Leeds College of Art until 1961 and then at the Royal College of Art until 1964. After his education he moved to New York during the 1970s for several months to work, following the migration of his artistic contemporaries from London and sincerely entertaining the possibility of a permanent relocation. He finally decided the cultural climate of New York was far too ‘hysterical’ for his mentality and, returning to the UK, rejected the modern art scene, choosing instead to follow his own path. Soon after his return he journeyed to the tip of the British Isles — the Orkney Islands — beginning an unofficial project which would see him chart over five-hundred viewpoints of the UK. He would sit on the cabins of fishing trawlers, sketch-book in hand, genuinely wanting to venture to those remote places, interested both in the artistic potential and geological rarity of these locations. Wanting to ‘squeeze out the essence of the place’, Ackroyd liked exploring as a pursuit in itself, enjoying the ‘bonus’ of subliminal subject matter and avidly sketching all that he saw in situ.

Now he lives and works in a restored industrial warehouse building in Bermondsey, where the BBC documentary team followed him from dusk till dawn over the course of a single day in 2013. When asked about his choice of profession he coyly replied, ‘It keeps me out of bother’ and further commented how fantastic it was to be able to engrave for a living — something which his family, historically all butchers in Leeds, thought most impossible. When asked about his central London base, at odds with the geography of his subject matter, Ackroyd explained he had lived in remote places throughout his life, taking ‘ages’ to get to one scene from the next. Milner suggested the call of the wild was part of an artistic journey rather than the main way of life. Agreeing, Ackroyd recalled the annual Christmas dinner at the Royal College which invites all of the academicians out of the mania of London and into its hallowed halls. Artists are, by demand of their profession monastic, and living in the capital gives Ackroyd access to social and artistic spheres, as well as the ability to draw back from them.

After the BBC film Milner drew the comparison between Ackroyd’s work and the cookery process. He agreed, stating that 90% of cooking is about having great ingredients and it is the same with etching. He professed to working in thousands of various black inks, ‘self-indulgently’ making his own out of burnt natural materials such as bone and peach stone; all offering slightly different colours and textures. Just like a kitchen his workshop is meticulously clean, with the risk of contamination otherwise too great — affording yet another comparison with the family tradition of butchery. Etching with a copperplate can take three to four days of solid work and requires bewitching precision and experience. Ackroyd begins with delineating the reverse of the design on the plate aided by the reflection of a mirror. He described treating the plate like a painting, though one which needs absolute concentration, due to the ‘high-wire’ of working with acid. His etching presses, which have been passed on to him, are ‘two of the best in all of Europe’. The first, a ‘beautiful piece of engineering’, made at the time when etching was an industrial rather than artistic process, cost £400 in 1900 — which today would be equivalent to £52,000. The second is a smaller standard press, the ‘Volvo’ of the pair.

Ackroyd observed that his work is greatly influenced by the British Romantic Samuel Palmer, as well as the prolific printmaker Anthony Gross. He adores the ‘stopping-and-stilling’ mechanism of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s work saying that ‘time is like a butterfly when it is pinned down’ in his works. His greatest hero is Goya, naming the Los Caprichos series, as well as Picasso. Both were great draftsmen Ackroyd remarked, a quality seemingly lost within the teaching of the art schools today, which undervalue the importance and the necessity of skill and technique. An audience member questioned with Ackroyd thought his career would have been vastly different had he attended the Slade or Central St Martin’s, instead of the Royal College. ‘Life is a lottery’ he began his answer and concluded that he owed a great deal of his success to his Alma Mater. He would largely accredit this to Julian Trevelyan and the hands-off approach of members of staff, allowing him to ‘just get on with it’. This method fostered deeply different artists, his classmates as diverse as Peter Blake, David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield. A second attendee asked whether he was ever tempted to include the human figure. Ackroyd replied saying that he does, in fact, ‘do his scales’ of art making: drawing from life and well as still life drawing. But it is the traces — the resonance — of humanity that he prefers; the marks where we’ve been; the civilisations rather than the individuals.

Bitham Lake

Norman Ackroyd has etchings of Old Wardour Castle as well as Bitham Lake at Fonthill in our exhibition, ‘A Wessex Scene’, which is on display in the Long Gallery until 31 December 2017. The editions of these works are also available to order at Messums Wiltshire. He has artwork in national and international collections including the Tate, British Museum and National Gallery of Art. Ackroyd became the Professor of Etching at the University of the Arts in 1994 and was elected a Royal Academician in 1991. In 2000 he was made Senior Fellow, Royal College of Art and was awarded a CBE for services to engraving and painting in 2007.

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