Saturday 9 March – Sunday 28 April

PREVIEW: Friday 8 March, from 6pm  Bookings

Messums Wiltshire is delighted to announce our inaugural Material: Textile exhibition, featuring clothes from 8th century Peru to 21st century Denmark as well as prints, rugs, tapestries and embroideries made by some of the greatest names in Western art.

Join us on Friday 8 March for the preview across both gallery spaces. Our popular Collector’s tour starts at 6pm ahead of the gallery opening to the public at 6:30pm.

Textile has often been associated with merely furnishing the home or decorating the human body but now artists – many of whom work across media – are increasingly starting to use them as a means of artistic expression and as an equivalent to paint. In particular we focus on contemporary tapestry with a remarkable 3D work by Goshka Macuga ‘Make Tofu Not War’, first shown at Frieze London in 2018, that layers visual references including the Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark, a cosmonaut, a space capsule and environmental protestors dressed as animals, invites us to speculate on what we are doing to today’s landscape.

Textiles exist everywhere in our lives, our history, our cultures and our politics – and indeed the finely worked cloth of ancient civilisations were used as both a tax and currency. The very best textiles are in many cultures still the most prized of all possessions, even more precious than gold or silver. Raphael is perhaps as treasured for the enormous tapestries he designed for the Sistine chapel as he is for his paintings; the Gobelins tapestries that Louis XIV ordered for his palace at Versailles were an important part of its grandeur.

Material: Textile showcases works ranging from the simple geometric beauty of cloth from the 8th century in Peru to a Tibetan saddlecloth dating from the 19th century,

Ancient techniques of weaving, tapestry, embroidery and knitting continue to have a lasting appeal for artists but also celebrated in Material: Textile is the synergy between the commissioning person or artist and the workshop that is often present in the process of making tapestries or carpets. In particular we highlight the important roles played by the Edinburgh based weavers Dovecot Studios, as well as Christopher Farr and Equator Production, where skilled makers have kept techniques alive that may have otherwise been lost, allowing for artists today to explore the medium for its material processes and possibilities.

We also showcase the first collaborations between artists (including Picasso, Matisse and Hepworth) and fabricators, with a collection of Modernist silks and fabrics presented by Gray M.C.A as well as knitted jumpers by Freddie Robins who challenges the notion of knitting as a passive, benign activity and the countryside as a pastoral idyll, with a collection of reworked hand-knitted jumpers that feature pictures on them of suicides, car crashes, houses on fire and helicopters in the air.

A highlight of our show is a 26 metre long sculpture, The Onion Farm, which will run the length of our medieval barn by leading Danish fashion designer and artist Henrik Vibskov that was first shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum in September 2018. The light, dynamic, Mikado-like structure, composed of colourful carwash brushes and red fabric onions will serve as the runway for a catwalk show by a number of international fashion designers including Vibskov on 27 April 2019.

Artists: Anni Albers, Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, Adam Belcher, Louise Bourgeois, Georges Braque, Antoni Calvé, Oscar Dominguez, Donald Hamilton Fraser, Roger Fry, Magne Furuholmen, Liam Gillick, Ashley Havinden, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Des Hughes, Kurt Jackson, Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, Joseph Kosuth, Francesca Lowe, Goshka Macuga, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Christian Newby, Ben Nicholson, Pablo Picasso, John Piper, Laure Prouvost, Alan Reynolds, Freddie Robins, William Scott, Nicholas de Staël, Hans Tisdal, Rosemarie Trockel, Gavin Turk, Keith Vaughan, Paule Vézelay and Henrik Vibskov

Events Programme

Our Material: Textile Process Weekend ‘Common Threads’ includes talks, workshops and demonstrations by makers, artists, journalists and people in industry and will take place on the final weekend of the show on 26 – 28 April:

Friday 26 April
7 – 9pm: CATWALK FASHION SHOW, headlined by Henrik Vibskov

Saturday 27 April
10am – 11am Talk and Demo: Zoe Ritchie on wool and natural dyeing
11am – 12 noon Talk: Catarina Riccabona on weaving
12.45 – 1.45pm 3×15 Talk: Common Threads – Narrative, Process and Collaboration with artists Celia Pym and Freddie Robins + Kate Grenyer (Curator, Dovecot Studios) chaired by Polly Leonard (Editor, Selvedge Magazine)
2 – 5pm Workshop: ‘Mending’ with Celia Pym
2 – 5pm Workshop: Material Propositions by CSM MA Material Futures Fab Lab
5 – 6pm 3×15 Talk: Common Threads – Can creativity, productivity  and sustainability overlap with Galahad Clark (founder of Vivo Barefoot), Kieran Jones (course leader MA Material Futures) and Edwina Ehrman (Senior Exhibition Curator at the V&A)

Top: Christian Newby ‘El Ranchito’