Ceramics Season


13 February – 30 April 2023


Register interest


In 2023 the spring season at Messums celebrates contemporary ceramic across its various spaces with a programme of exhibitions and events that seek to showcase the richness and breadth of the medium, profiling a number of significant contemporary practitioners and focusing particularly on the importance of the journey of making.

To mark this celebratory season, a symposium will be held at Messums Wiltshire on 1 April 2023 and will highlight the diverse potential of clay in art. The symposium programme will include talks by leading practitioners and experts in the field including presentations by the exhibiting artists and a highlight talk from Paul Greenhalgh, author of Ceramic, Art and Civilisation (Bloomsbury, 2020).

This symposium will be paralleled by a ‘Young Clay Symposium’ also taking place on 1 April 2023 organised by Messums Creative where participants aged 10+ can celebrate contemporary ceramic through hands-on learning. During the day, there will be the opportunity to explore the story of clay and for participants to make their own fire sculpture. Together with these symposiums, our programme of clay workshops at Messums’ Chilmark studios will present further opportunities to experience and enjoy the material and discover the process.

Celebrating clay and the creative processes involved, a key highlight of the exhibitions and events programme will be a dramatic wood-firing spectacle from French ceramicist Thiébaut Chagué whereby the act of making becomes part of the exhibition. Between February and April, Chagué will transform the Messums Tithe Barn into a live studio space, presenting to view all phases of ceramic making. The artist will give talks to the public in the barn on Monday 13 and Monday 20 at 11:30am providing updates on the project as it unfolds and welcoming visitors to enjoy the making journey. Once the six-metre-tall wood-fired kiln is built, Chagué will fire a larger-than-life sculpture, created on site from moulded and extruded clay forms, in a celebration of fire, clay and landscape. Together with this, a series of smaller pieces will be fired in the kiln which will subsequently be shown in the exhibition alongside further works by the artist. The firing will be a dramatic spectacle and the public will be invited to watch this exciting event as it takes place.

At Messums London, Cork Street from 15 February until 17 March, there will be a solo presentation of new and recent works by Martin Smith. Smith has achieved international recognition as one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists. He trained at Bristol Polytechnic Faculty of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, and sees himself as an artist, making his work with the mindset of an architect and meticulously planning each piece. Since the start of his career in the late 1970s, Smith has exhibited internationally, and examples of his work can be found in many public collections worldwide. A major retrospective was held at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, in 1996 and in 2001 he made Wavelength, a site-specific work for Tate St. Ives. His continuing practice in the field of ceramics consists of an on-going project investigating the formal language of the vessel and the way that it can both contain a space and define a place. Investigations into both material and process underpin his work. This exhibition presents new wall-based works produced by Smith which are characteristically ideas-driven, precision-made and explore illusory perspective and geometry. A 60 page, full-colour exhibition catalogue will be available featuring an introduction by Paul Greenhalgh and an essay by Natalie Baerselman le Gros and a Q&A with Dr Claudia Milburn.

In the Long Gallery at Messums Wiltshire from 4 March until 30 April, themes of abstraction and innovation in clay will be continued in a presentation of works by pioneering British ceramicists: Natasha Daintry, Nicholas Lees, and James Rigler, each taught by Martin Smith and all sharing an affinity with his work. These artists represent a generation exploring the ceramic medium who have been given licence to experiment. Each has developed their own abstract language within the ceramic discipline whilst together they point to a greater understanding of the potential of the
medium. They exemplify mastery of technical accomplishment and innovation.

Image: Nicholas Lees ‘Triptych’, 2020

Exhibitions and Events




Martin Smith

The Poetics of Geometry

15 February – 17 March



Exhibition Artist: Nicholas Lees

Monday 20 February



Makoto Kagoshima

Thursday 2 and Friday 3 March



Abstract Ceramics

4 March – 30 April



Sandrine Bringard


4 March – 30 April



Thiébaut Chagué

Wood Firing in Action

4 March – 30 April



Kiln Firing Days

Timings changed to allow for weather.

Friday 31 March (morning) – Saturday 1 April (evening)




Ceramics Symposium

Saturday 1 April



Young Clay Symposium

Saturday 1 April



Understanding Colour in Ceramic Glazes with Mirka Golden-Hann

Sunday 2 April



Artwork Handling and Discussion Session with Ceramic Artist Nicholas Lees

Monday 3 April


Image (top): Martin Smith, Red Black Bartlett, 2015