Saturday 2 December, 11:00am
Messums Wiltshire is delighted to announce its new exhibition, A Wessex Scene, a celebration of the location that we are situated in, both immediately and further afield. Join us in the Long Gallery for a preview and interview with artist David Inshaw to open the show.
David Inshaw is one of the exhibiting artists in A Wessex Scene and is most famous for the painting ‘The Badminton Game’ which is held by Tate Britain. Inshaw lives and works in Devizes and fell in love with the Wessex landscape through reading Thomas Hardy, ‘the way that Hardy used landscape as a metaphor for human emotion struck a deep chord.’ David Inshaw in conversation with Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Jinny Blom Artist’s Talk — 1st November 2017
‘That night I had a vivid dream. I was in a crowded football stadium filled with screaming fans. Beside me a small child I didn’t know was trying to get my attention. He was insistent and inaudible. Eventually I bellowed out into the stadium: ‘Will you all please be quiet — the child wants to say something’. Silence. I bent down and he whispered: ‘Please may I be a gardener?’ It might sound daft but that was that’.
— Jinny Blom, ‘The Thoughtful Gardener’, 2017.
Jinny Blom began her career as a landscaper in 2002. She had previously worked as a Jungian psychologist for twenty years, a role centred around the care and treatment of mentally ill patients. The two professions of psychologist and designer, although seemingly disparate at first, arguably stem from the same source of conscientiousness: with the pastime of gardening concerned with deriving pleasure — and ultimately health — from our surrounding environment. Nature is, of course, the greatest nurturer.
Jinny’s first job started six months into her ‘overnight’ career change, with a commission for the Manor at Temple Guiting. Here the inspiration for her garden design came from a profound appreciation of history and geography. Jinny used plants, trees and flowers to filter and construct the land around the views her clients did and didn’t want to see, resulting in a remarkable manipulation of spaces. Combing ‘simple planning’ and an elegant colour scheme, Jinny was able to achieve a kind of botanical equilibrium, creating a garden which proves easy to maintain and almost looks after itself. Jinny’s adage ‘to develop or not to develop’ denotes the play between the natural world and her taming of it; pitting crumbling, ruinous outhouses against the kitsch topiary of box-plants, styled into pigs.
She went on to describe other exhibitions and commissions, all of which are elaborated on in her wonderful book ‘The Thoughtful Gardener’, available from our bookshop. A particularly humorous narrative was concerned with an exhibition in the Jardins des Tuileries, Paris. Used to the military precision and organisation demanded of the Chelsea Flower Show, Jinny was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere of the French, one that almost reached a level of nonchalance, as they were happy to sit around smoking and chatting, before commencing with the installation.
Another career-defining project was commissioned by the Spring restaurant at Somerset House. Reverse-casting huge gunnera leaves into liquified marble dust, Jinny’s finished ‘interior-garden’ was reminiscent of many of the plant exhibits at the Natural History Museum. ‘The tactile quality of the walls I made for Skye Gyngell’s restaurant was the product of my desire to make things with originality and Skye’s love of truthful ingredients. We won a prestigious landscaping award for the atrium’ she said of the project.
We were then treated to a ‘tour of Kenya’, with Jinny speaking about the vulnerable earth of Laikipia, the ground of a landscape unsuited to human vulnerability. This terribly fragile and eroded area is the location for a rhino conversation project, one which encourages landowners to join their estates into migration corridors, as well as developing lodge-schemes for the protection of this endangered animal. It is obvious Jinny is passionate about this cause: ‘If you get to a point where we’re cutting the tusks of rhinos and elephants to protect them you know we’ve gone wrong somewhere as a species…I’m not too fond of the human race’.
Jinny has participated in two Chelsea Flower Shows — experiences she says, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that she could have done without. Her second show at this prestigious occasion was in collaboration with Prince Harry in honour of the AIDs charity he supports. This project was given the green light three days before the deadline for submissions closed. Her high-tech evocation of the landscape of Lesotho, a country where the charity Sentebale works. Jinny described her awkward exchange with a rather bored Queen, an anecdote that everyone laughed at. With every new slide there came an ‘ooh’ or an ‘ahh’ from the audience, proving Johnathan Messum’s introductory analogy accurate: Jinny’s dream of a ‘stadium filled with screaming fans’ had materialised in the form of a sold-out talk, here in Messums’ Long Gallery.
Wednesday 13 December, 6:30pm
Norman Ackroyd is one of Britain’s foremost landscape artists and is known primarily for his aquatint work which hangs in the Tate and New York’s MoMA. He is also passionate and extremely knowledgeable about the local landscape, having visited and created works of art inspired by the melancholic and laden pools of Fonthill Abbey, home to one of the greatest collectors of their day, William Beckford. A selection of these works hangs in the barn and we are delighted to welcome him to the barn for this informal discussion.
Norman Ackroyd studied at Leeds College of Art from 1956 to 1961, and subsequently at the Royal College of Art, London from 1961 to 1964. Ackroyd has had many solo exhibitions, both in Britain and internationally. Norman Ackroyd was elected a Royal Academician in 1991 and was made Senior Fellow, Royal College of Art in 2000. Ackroyd lives and works in London.
Friday 22 December 2017, 6:00pm, free event
You are warmly invited to our Christmas party celebrating musicians and singers in our local area. Join us on Friday 22 December for Christmas carols sung by The Tisbury Community Choir followed by a performance by musician Sagat Guirey, who has played and recorded with artists including Nigel Kennedy, Roachford and Belinda Carlisle, on guitar, banjo and mandolin. He will be joined by a handpicked group of guest musicians, all from our local area, for an eclectic fusion of jazz, rock and blues.
The bar will be open for mulled wine, drinks, mince pies, sausages, soup and rolls.
6.00pm Doors open
7.00pm Carols by Tisbury Community Choir
8.00pm Sagat Guirey & friends
Judy Pfaff’s ‘Roots Up’ installation opened at Messums Wiltshire on 23 September and continues for another month until 26 November. Pfaff was one of the first contemporary ‘installation’ artists – one of a stable of artists working in New York in 1970s who experimented with this medium and ‘Roots Up’ is a continuation of the anti-white wall, ‘maximalist’ narrative common to other artists of her generation, instigated perhaps by the French artist Marcel Duchamp with his Mile of String earlier in 1942. Pfaff’s conversation with material commenced in the 1970s, counter to conceptual and minimalist trends; being ‘one-of-a-kind, room-filling and immersive’. She commented that ‘many, many artists now do similar work. But when I began…not so much’. ‘Roots Up’ is her first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom.
After completing her Master of Fine Art at Yale in 1973, Pfaff created her first large-scale installation which showed at the nonprofit Artists’ Space. Installation artworks often exist as a unified, immersive experience, rather than being comprised of smaller, separate entities, often occupying an entire room or space. The eminent art-historian Linda Nochlin observed of Pfaff’s works that ‘I, the spectator, hardly spectated at all: I was drawn through, around, into the piece’. The installation genre emerged out of environmental art, which was prevalent throughout the late 1950s, and in the next decade asserted itself as the new major strand in international contemporary art.
Pfaff’s pioneering work synthesises sculpture, painting and architecture into dynamic ‘atmospheres’, into which the fabric of space itself seems to expand and collapse. Her work is a complex ordering of visual information, composed of steel, fibreglass and plaster, as well as natural elements such as tree roots; the central focus of Messums’ exhibition. Her wild prodigious creativity combines a delicate filigree of organic roots and steel branches with towering fantail pillars inspired by ecclesiastical architecture. Drops of glass spinning to the floor like gargantuan raindrops fall onto what looks like a neolithic earthworth. Pfaff’s work verge on the edge of chaos but is underpinned by a rigorous order of motifs made up of spheres, helixes and other geometrical shapes.
Perhaps it is obvious to state that Pfaff was one of the very first women artists to work in installation. She was written about in this context by Nochlin, a writer of course known for her revolutionary article ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ and was characterised in 1971 as the ‘most articulate feminist art-historian’. In ‘Judy Pfaff, or the Persistence of Chaos’ (1989), Nochlin identifies a key discourse found in Pfaff’s work, that of ordered chaos; a subject arguably inherited from the Impressionists which was seen in its time as wild. Nochlin realised the relevance of chaos to Pfaff’s achievements and demonstrated how it has often been dismissed as a female trait. ‘The good art-work’, Nochlin wrote, ‘in other words, is cast in the image of masculinity — aggressive, wounding, hard-edged, well defended — as opposed to the “bad” or trivial one, which is feminine by definition — a hodge-podge of unelevated objects thrown helter-skelter, without defence, into a shapeless, feminine receptacle’.
Pfaff found Nochlin’s difference between ‘male’ and ‘female’ chaos particularly insightful, commenting in 2007, ‘the same kind of impulse [chaos] could be recognised as being very powerful and also very flaky. I really liked that conversation. Because when I work, I think most people think it’s just fun. There is so little fun going on that it actually p***** me off. I’m really involved. To have things feel loose takes a sort of thoughtfulness. There’s a rigour in that’. Pfaff’s words live up to her bold and strident work, demanding that ‘Roots Up’, a piece that took two years in the making and two months to install, be placed in the context of chaos’s academic legacy and be used to further the term’s deconstruction. ‘Roots Up’ has arguably met Nochlin’s binary pairs of adjectives somewhere in the middle: it is an installation that is neither ‘aggressive’ or ‘wounding’ nor ‘defensive’ or ‘shapeless’, but is, instead, a balance between chaos’s manifold interpretations.
Pfaff’s work cannot be construed as feminist, radical or otherwise, but it is relevant to the international art world’s much needed catch-up with feminist artists from the 1970s and 1980s, with numerous exhibitions of their artwork showing and selling at Frieze London 2017 for example.
Pfaff has received many awards including the MacArthur Foundation Award; a Bessie; and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has had major exhibitions at Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Denver Art Museum; St. Louis Art Museum; and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. Pfaff represented the United States in the 1998 Bienal de São Paulo. She now lives and works in Tivoli.
Judy Pfaff’s ‘Roots Up’ is on show at Messums Wiltshire until Sunday 26 November.
Photo credit: Iain Kemp Photography
Christmas Printmaking with Finn Bush
Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 November, 10-4pm, lunch included Bookings
The sending of printed Christmas cards originated in London in 1843. The printers back then then considered it a vogue soon to pass.
Nowadays taking the time to make something for somebody is perhaps one of the most special gifts one can give. Like a ritual, its all about coming up with a design, choosing a method and settling down to the artistry and the industry.
So this Christmas as part of our Makers market, join 8 others to learn about four of the most popular print methods, Wood cut, engraving, dry point and monotype. Then choose one and create your own Christmas design with guidance or freedom. Print for your own enjoyment and use, or if you feel like it join the makers market and offer your works for sale. You never know as well as being great fun it could be the start of a new industry!
23 September 2017 — A One Year Milestone
The 23rd of September 2017 marked a historical milestone in Messums Wiltshire’s history, a year ago to the day we opened for the first time, welcoming over 2500 people over the weekend. This year our anniversary was marked with the opening of a large-scale exhibition by American installation artist Judy Pfaff and an audience who packed into our new space to hear her introductory talk. The Long Gallery is perpendicular to the main tithe barn. This new permanent exhibition gallery focuses on two-dimensional works of art including paintings, drawings, etchings and photographs to complement programming in the Barn. This gallery has a long panoramic sweep of a glass window, viewing straight onto the rolling hills of the Fonthill Estate, once owned by the greatest collector of the 19th century, William Beckford. Its enormous north-facing windows let in ample light for viewing works of art such as the current display of Judy Pfaff’s complementary two-dimensional and smaller installation pieces.
As well as The Long Gallery, a new reception space provides context to the wider sense of Place Farm and in the opening months displays smaller works of art by artists from our stable, and newer artists such as Ying Sheung Wong whose delicate porcelain plates fly up the right-hand wall. Ying graduated the MA Ceramics programme from Bath’s School of Art and Design this year and we are happy to welcome her to our growing collection of artists.
The white cube Pod in the main barn, continues to serve coffee in a remarkable location and offers an extensive collection of handmade and hand chosen artefacts by leading makers and designers from Fred Baier to Tracey Boyd, as well as Art materials and specialist art books.
It’s been an incredible twelve months: from Turner prize winning ceramic artists to modern dance and classic cars, our programme has been varied and diverse. Highlights of last year’s exhibitions include Material: Earth with Grayson Perry and Edmund de Waal and Art in Motion: Design & Inspiration including a McLaren F1 and a P1. This ‘series of firsts’ culminates a spectacular programme of events and we look forward to hosting many more this year and the years to come. Thank you all for your continuing support and enthusiasm. If you hve not already done so, please sign up for our to our mailing list at: http://messumswiltshire.com/sign-up/
Wednesday 1 November, 6:30pm Bookings
“Jinny’s genius is to marry a beautiful vision to an extraordinary empathy with the landscape into which that vision will fit, resulting in a pastoral harmony second to none” – Victoria, Lady Getty
A prolific designer, Jinny Blom embraces a wide variety of styles, from formal walled gardens to contemporary installations. What defines Jinny’s work is her skill with plants and her ability to create a garden that responds to the history of the site and the wider landscape. On the 1st November Jinny will share her insight into the creative process she has developed while designing more than 250 gardens around the world.
The gardens Jinny creates are as different as their owners and their locations. Small gardens are very intimate and have to work efficiently in order to be pleasing. An Oxfordshire garden of rooms is constructed from nothing, creating a new garden with an old soul and there are modern takes on traditional forms.
But all these gardens share a commitment to beautiful craftsmanship and considered planting. Structure and detail are important, and receive close attention. The styles vary considerably – logical, calm, beautiful, romantic, naturalistic, formal, sometimes spare – but the principles remain firm. Jinny designs for the long term, with consideration for the environment; these gardens are built to last. Find out some of the core principles behind her thinking in what promises to be a fascinating talk.
Judy Pfaff is an American artist known primarily for her immersive and expressive installation art, who currently teaches at the Bard College of Art, New York State. In 2015, she and Johnny Messum were introduced at a gallery in New York, an occurrence that somewhat incidentally led to an invitation to create a large-scale installation in the Messums magnificent 13th century tithe barn.
Judy introduced the opening of her first solo show in the United Kingdom with an artist’s talk. One of her most insightful remarks on ‘Roots Up’ revealed that she must choose where she travels to very carefully, as her location and surroundings always appear in her work. Her art, she admits, is entirely responsive to the events which happen to herself as well as others, citing 9/11, recent devastating flooding in the United States and familial deaths as examples.
Her being so attuned to the environment is perfectly evidenced in Messums Wiltshire’s latest exhibition, a literal reflection and reconsideration of the surrounding ancient landscape. When first visiting this corner of the country, Judy was shown around Old Wardour Castle, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. She was particularly interested in the architecture of the central vault in the Cathedral’s Chapter House, an element which can be found (now abstracted in form) in the finished show. ‘Roots Up’ is an exhibit which incites wonder, awe and the desire to explore our exceptional surroundings. Her 140ft installation piece combines the psychedelia of the local summer solstices, the magic of dark winter nights and the folklore of times gone by. Judy’s two-dimensional and smaller sculptural works displayed on her specially crafted ‘photowalls’ can be viewed in The Long Gallery next door.
Her fantastical, gravity-defying show is evocative of the buildings designed by her favourite architect, the Spaniard Antoni Gaudí. Architectural flourishes of his are echoed in Judy’s colourful floral bowls, fluted medieval vaulting and overflowing trees; oozing their sparkling multicoloured sap. Judy is resolutely interested in colour, not necessarily concerned with its technical features but instead its artistic, atmospheric qualities — a Kandinsky-like appreciation perhaps. Such excess, ostentation and vivacity is reflected in her approach to two-dimensional work. She describes how creating one image will end with ‘a hundred’ being produced.
Judy’s talk prioritised her processes and highlighted the scale of preparation which goes into such a monumental work of art. She demonstrated just how many people played an intrinsic role and humanised the entire operation by naming those involved. ‘Roots Up’ was a huge undertaking, one typified by the large sycamore ‘root bowl’ framing an elevation of the installation. This tree’s previous owners had done everything they could to get rid of it: attempting to cut it down and even burning it, to no avail. ‘Please take it!’ was the reply when Judy expressed an interest in using the tree for the show. She is able to notice the magic in objects that others are desperate to part with and amazingly, through her unique artistic production, she is able to allow everyone a window into the way she experiences the world.
And her world, as the art critic Dennis Kardon observed in Art in America, ‘has never been cowed by refined minimalist sensibilities’ instead is ‘wild’, ‘prodigious’ and ‘creative’. When she first started working in New York during the 1970s, she chose to ignore the climate of conceptual art as it simply ‘was never my thing’. This, she claims, provides a reason for her rather ‘funny’ or ‘interesting’ reputation. As she gained artistic prominence, she describes being including in a West Kunst exhibition and furiously discovering that the historical section included no women, an unfortunate phenomenon not unlike the treatment of contemporary female artists. The passionate and explosive character of Judy’s stories seem almost at odds listening to her measured slide-show presentation. Her commentary on her work and life was brief and light, allowing the photos and artwork to speak for themselves. Judy manages to be humble without becoming falsely modest and wryly quoted a previous agent’s opinion on her installations: ‘If I could sell this s*** then I would be a great dealer’.