Saturday 2 December — Sunday 4 February 2018

Messums Wiltshire is pleased to announce a new exhibition Material Light: Glass, which opens on 2nd December and complements David Sprigg’s light installation in the 13th century tithe barn. Glass will be on show in the Long Gallery. This is a refurbished stable room adjacent to the barn with a long panoramic window, viewing straight onto the rolling hills of the Fonthill Estate.

Showcasing works which highlight the versatility of the material, Glass will present pieces both familiar and unconventional: including tableware, vases and installation art. This display follows in our Material series, succeeding exhibits themed around Wood and Earth.

This exhibition will house some of the most exciting new glass work by renowned British, European and American artists, prioritising those who directly craft their own artwork, following the award-winning Judy Pfaff’s colossal sculpture exhibition in the barn. Glass hopes to explore how this powerful medium reflects and supports us literally and more symbolically, through its functionality, utility and practicality.

We use glass everyday — to alleviate our thirst and to visually access the outside world — yet the medium is often overlooked or indeed it is looked through. In fact, glass contains painterly, sculptural and artistic qualities, making it one of the finest and most technical art forms. Cathryn Shilling’s large cups with their swept multicoloured design are a case in point. By being beautiful and functional they are a plea to take stock of everyday experiences and add to them an elegance and an artistry.

James Lethbridge ‘Acanthus in Copper’

Messums Wiltshire’s survey of contemporary glass will also show the ‘fun side’ of material, with brightly coloured and humorous pieces from including Italian Hugh Findletar’s ‘Flower Headz’, vases painted with aristocratic and caricatured faces which come to life when filled with flowers. Once they have been acquainted with their fancy floral coiffures, these vase-people are bequeathed an entirely new character, reminiscent of the Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s imaginative vegetable-portraits.

Another featured artist, James Lethbridge creates freestanding glass ‘jars’ which are formed from references ranging from atomic structure, pollen, viruses and botanicals, utilising hundreds, if not thousands, of individual components. His work has been described as ‘contemporary baroque’, perfectly at home within minimalist cityscape architecture prioritised by ‘white cube’ art galleries. James’ company works primarily on site-specific commissions, with private clients, interior designers and architects developing bespoke chandeliers and lighting.

Glass follows in the footsteps of its revival in the contemporary art world, responding to and continuing wonderful events like the British Glass Biennale, the UK’s leading exhibition of excellence in contemporary glass and The Venice Glass Week — the city’s first international festival dedicated to the material. Several of the artists displaying their work in Glass were selected from these two art fairs.

There is an abundance of glass-making closer to home in the South-West region, typified by Salisbury Cathedral’s stained-glass along with their in-house workshop dedicated to restoring and conserving glass and lead lights.

Messums Wiltshire is a visual arts centre situated in a 13th century tithe barn in Tisbury that has just celebrated its first year by opening second exhibition space, ‘The Long Gallery’. This is an adjacent refurbished stable room with a long panoramic sweep of a glass window, viewing straight onto the rolling hills of the Fonthill Estate, where Glass will be shown until 4th February 2018.

Artists Include: 

Vic Bamforth, Scott Benefield, Mr FLOWERheadZ (Hugh Findletar), Laura Hart, James Lethbridge, Angela Palmer, Cathryn Shilling, Amanda Simmons, Andrea Spencer, Neil Wilkin, Emma Woffendon