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Messums at The Grange

24 June – 26 July

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We are delighted to announce that we have been invited to curate a programme of exhibitions at The Grange in Hampshire. The programme opens this summer with sculpture, photography and painting placed amongst magnificent architecture and open parkland.

The Grange at Northington is the foremost example in England of Greek Revival architecture. It has a colourful history stretching back several hundred years – encompassing a royal tenant, a succession of banking families and requisition during the 2nd World War. First built in the 1660s as a Palladian brick mansion, it was transformed in the early 19th century into a magnificent neoclassical residence resembling a Greek temple, complete with resplendent Doric portico. After years of neglect, the house was dramatically saved from demolition in 1975 when it was taken into state care, and now has entered a new chapter as an opera venue.

Since Messums Wiltshire opened in 2016 we have brought art to the extraordinary architecture of the 13th century tithe barn and witnessed how artworks can transform and are transformed by such a setting. It is with great excitement that we expand this framework at The Grange.

We open with Laurence Edwards, now one of Britain’s leading sculptors working today; Rebecca Newnham; architect-turned-sculptor Nicholas Hare; Finnish ceramicist Kim Simonsson and Christie Brown. Sculpture from Bridget McCrum is joined by her works on paper and monumental paintings from John Walker. Also on show are landscapes from photographer Alexander Lindsay, Graeme Black‘s ‘trunk paintings’ and works from Antony Williams and Tuesday Riddell.

 

Thank you to everyone who suggested and recommended that we create an arts programme to complement the musical programming at The Grange. It is an inspiring setting and a wonderful springboard for artistic imagination of all forms. As with a performance it is important to know who the soloist is and who is the accompanist. I hope that the sculpture, photography and drawings on view here are enjoyed in the moments of anticipation leading up to a performance and can be objects of consideration whilst assessing what you have just experienced.

Jonathan Messum

Rebecca Newnham


Rebecca Newnham is an artist and sculptor from the South-West of England whose large-scale public art projects have been installed all over the world.

Her sculpture Quercus, on show at The Grange, is her response to experiencing ancient woodland on the Winter Solstice at Kingley Vale – an ancient yew forest on the South Downs. Here, limbs of yew are entwined together as if they are a single organism, creating primitive vaulted spaces, like natural shelters or caves. In Quercus, Newnham has tried to capture the earthy, raw energy of trees in this environment.

Bridget McCrum


Bridget McCrum’s work is a potent fusion of the ancient with the modern. She works primarily in stone, from which some of her pieces are also cast in bronze. Initially influenced by archaeological finds and by the work of Brancusi, Hepworth and Moore, her sculpture also contains oblique references to the landscape and fauna around her homes in Devon and Gozo. The basis of her work is a lyrical abstraction of living forms, a process after which only the primary elements of her animals and birds remain identifiable.

McCrum was born in 1934 and went on to train as a painter with Lesjek Musjynski at Farnham School of Art in the 1950s. From 1980 she began to work primarily in stone, having learned her craft from John Joekes and Andrea Schulewitz on the South Downs.  She lives and works on the River Dart in Devon.

 

Nicholas Hare


Nicholas Hare’s works represent explorations of spatial geometries. Simple geometric elements in wood or metal are combined in consistent ways to form coherent structures designed to intrigue and satisfy the eye and the spatial sense.  The nature of the material and awareness of gravity are equally important, so that they challenge our perceptions of how they stand up, encouraging contact with the rusted metal and the worn timber.

Hare trained as an architect and his sculptural pieces reflect that spirit and influence, forming spaces allow a human scale of interaction and referencing the work of his sculptural heroes including Brancusi, Gabo and Serra.

Laurence Edwards


One of the few sculptors who casts his own work, Laurence Edwards is fascinated by human anatomy and the metamorphosis of form and matter that governs the lost-wax process. The driving force behind his work is bronze, an alloy that physically and metaphorically illustrates entropy, the natural tendency of any system in time to tend towards disorder and chaos. His sculptures express the raw liquid power of bronze, its versatility, mass and evolution, and the variety of process marks he retains tell the story of how and why each work came to be.

Based in Suffolk, Edwards trained at Canterbury College of Art and then at the Royal College of Art, where he studied bronze casting and sculpture with Sir Antony Caro. After winning a Henry Moore Bursary, the Angeloni Prize for Bronze Casting and an Intach Travelling Scholarship, he studied traditional casting techniques in India and Nepal, an experience that not only influenced his treatment of form and technique, but also gave him the necessary tools to establish his own atelier.

Kim Simonsson


Kim Simonsson is an award winning Finnish Swedish sculptor who uses ceramics as his medium. He is fascinated by the possibilities of the material and experiments with the surfaces of the sculptures as well, such as the moss-like decoration he invented with nylon fibre. Simonsson has exhibited his life-sized animal and children sculptures worldwide in solo and group exhibitions. His works are in a number of public and private collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, Arario Gallery, Racine Art Museum and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.

“It is impossible to know how the Moss People community exactly came about. Initially, the gang of children was strong, norms and social hierarchies of their own presiding in the community. Whether animal adults influenced them a great deal or the children grew up without any peer support apart from their own remains unknown. Similarly, why the community dissolved and the members gradually went off by themselves remains a mystery.  The series of ceramic works by Simonsson illustrates a time when the Moss People community had broken apart to a degree. Simonsson’s sculptures portray individuals who believe they can cope without the support of their community, but have often set their hopes too high. He narrates from the outside, like an impartial documentarian capturing what he sees.”                                                                                  – Veikko Halmetoja, Tales of the Moss People

Alexander Lindsay


Photographer Alexander Lindsay’s aim is to transport his audience to experience the landscape and be moved by it, in the same way that he was at the time of being there. To achieve this Lindsay uses up to 80 photographs of a scene which are digitally stitched together to create large-scale, sometimes panoramic, photographic images with a scale and depth of field that is incredibly rich and sharp. The resolution and detail are completely immersive and almost super-real, capturing an extraordinary beauty.

For the past forty years, Lindsay has brought his cameras to the most extreme situations and environments on the planet. From his earliest experiences with the Maasai tribe in Africa, a five-year spell in Afghanistan during Soviet occupation and his expeditions to photograph and film the wreck of the Titanic 4km beneath the ocean’s waves, Lindsay has always sought to immerse himself in situations where, as he explains, ‘the imagination is rendered unnecessary’.

Lindsay’s work has been exhibited internationally and his prints are included in major private and corporate collections in the US, UK and Europe.

Graeme Black


Graeme Black’s paintings come from a life of looking for ways to connect what he sees with what he feels, the materiality of objects seen with the sensations of forms experienced. Since 2016, he has lived permanently in the North Yorkshire Dales, and slowly ironed out the manmade damages to part of the landscape returning it gradually to nature, rewilding farmland and reintroducing trees.

His art practice in many ways has become a visual paean for a personal re-engagement with nature and connecting with wider sensibilities. His paintings begin with walks through the broadleaf woods and open fells surrounding his home, looking at the trees and watching them change through weather and seasons. The paintings are richly textured while the space around them is left as raw canvas. He paints with a palette knife, applying layers and layers of impasto paint.

Greame Black was born and raised in Angus on the west coast of Scotland and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art. He spent many years working in fashion, working for John Galliano, Giorgio Armani and Salvatore Ferragamo. Having lived in London and Italy and worked in China, Graeme settled in North Yorkshire, swapping fashion seasons for real seasons. He began a project of rewilding and at the same time made the commitment to focus on his painting.

Tuesday Riddell


Tuesday Riddell’s work takes us down to the forest floor and a glorious insight into the world that captures her imagination, that ethereal nocturne where all cycles of life and death carry on with rarely a watchful eye. However, it is her craftsmanship, that under admired phrase of accolade, which provides us with a second and lasting pleasure. There is a richness to her work: the depth of the black sharpens the contrast and the glow of the gold leaf and makes each piece look like a polished gemstone.

Tuesday Riddell graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art Painting from City &
Guilds of London Art School. Following that she undertook her Painter-Stainers Decorative Surface Fellowship at City & Guilds – the only Fellowship in the UK that provides specialist training in the craft of decorative surface techniques to ensure that endangered skills are kept alive and vibrant in contemporary practice, focusing on historic techniques such as gilding, japanning, chinoiserie and marbling. Riddell was then granted a one-year honorary membership to The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers to conclude her fellowship. She is the only contemporary artist in the UK working in lacquerware.

Antony Williams


“When Williams paints in tempera, he makes the viewer intensely aware of surface detail. One sees, more insistently perhaps than one does in life, the little marks of wear and tear, the furrows and wrinkles… [His] still lifes and portraits underline the passing of time and mortality. This was the reason no doubt why his fine portrait of the Queen caused controversy. Inevitably, his method, his close vision, revealed that that these were in fact the face and hands of an ageing woman. That is not how everybody chooses to think of the monarch. But as a work of art, and an exercise in sober, careful truth – telling like the best of his work – it was indeed, very impressive.” 

– Martin Gayford, art critic and writer

 

Antony Williams works almost exclusively in egg tempera – a painstaking, exacting medium in which egg is used instead of linseed oil as the binding medium. While oil allows for a degree of flexibility and manipulation of the painted surface before it dries, many days after initial application, this technique does not easily allow for alteration. All his work is based on intense observation, particularly of human flesh, creating as a result a heightened sense of realism.

Williams trained at Farnham College of Art and Portsmouth University and is a member of the New English Art Club, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Pastel Society.

Christie Brown


Christie Brown’s ceramic sculptures explore the relationship between historical artefacts and contemporary art, and the significance of archaic artefacts in museum collections. Archaeology presents a fragmented narrative of past lives and holds parallels with the practice of psychoanalysis where layers are carefully stripped away to reveal hidden information. Her work references these traces, as well as the mythology, narrative, and symbolism associated with clay. Inspired by idealised and uncanny representations of the human, such as mimetic figures, dolls, and puppets, her characters point to an animated narrative in which objects have a life of their own. Using free built elements and press moulded sections, she creates composite hybrid figures and otherworldly beings, which at the same time seem familiar – reflecting the complexity of identity and otherness.

Brown is a UK artist and Emerita Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster, London. She graduated from Manchester University in 1969 and from Harrow School of Art in 1982 and set up her north London studio that year. She was Principal Investigator on the AHRC project Ceramics in the Expanded Field, awarded to the University’s Ceramics Research Centre (CRC-UK) in 2011, and co-editor on the recent publication Contemporary Clay and Museum Culture (Routledge, 2016). Brown was recently elected as a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors and continues as an active member of the CRC-UK.

John Walker


Born and raised in Birmingham to a classically working-class family who gave blood to the British cause from the Boer to the Second world war, bold commitment and brave decisions mark out the turning points that have guided John Walker’s life. It is indicative perhaps that he would accept the role of teaching at the Royal College of Art but turn down an invitation to become its principal, moving instead to Australia. Walker had a strong influence as Dean of Victoria College of Art Melbourne in the 1980s – where there is still a bursary in his name. In 1969 he was awarded the Harkness Fellowship to visit New York and subsequently he would be awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in1981. By then Betty Parsons had found her way to his studio door in the UK, recognising the strength of his painterly language. It was through Parsons that Walker found Maine, taking a holiday cottage that would become his home and a teaching post at Boston where he is still Professor Emeritus.

Life is the carapace of our choices and John is a rare species, a British born internationally applauded abstract painter. He is considered one of their own by both Australia and America, two countries that readily adopted him and more recently China where he is visiting teacher in art at Beijing.