‘Since opening in 2016 with a remit to support and encourage creative process and thought across artistic genres, Messums Wiltshire has been a platform for a wide variety of art forms from contemporary dance to clay and ceramics. None have been more fitting to our wooden building than the connection to the material and makers in wood’. Johnathan Messum
‘Twig Vertical’ by Russell Pinch
On 8 August 2018 we open our third annual Material: Wood – Art & Design, a threefold programme comprised of an exhibition, festival and hands-on making experiences. Set in our thirteenth-century barn – the largest thatched building in the country – artists and makers including Thomas Heatherwick, Gareth Neal, Chris Eckersley, Richard Woods, Rob and Nick Carter and Alastair Mackie lead a survey of contemporary making practices in wood, with a focus on chair design. Henry Brudenell-Bruce’s colossal, outdoor chair epitomises the spirit of this ambitious show and will be complemented by designs by Russell Pinch and Christopher Kurtz.
At a time when our outlook is increasingly shaped by the information of digital media, the value of the handmade is more important than ever. Our programme illustrates that there is an underutilised means of expression in the process of making, one which connects both viewer and creator. This comprehension can be a vital part in encouraging us to look through objects to the person behind the work. Ultimately, it is our contention that art binds people to people, not people to objects. Material: Wood brings together a curated collection of talks, exhibitions and makers’ courses – unlike any other seen – that celebrates a material that has been part of our cultural landscape since the dawn of wood henges. Put simply, wood has driven and been driven by artistic and innovative thinking.
Join other ‘makers-on-benches’ for courses led by some of the best practitioners working today, from steam bending to paddle making and green chair crafting. We will host a talks programme with subjects as varied as the history of boat design and how we can grow furniture rather than make it.
Material: Wood is about making and about celebrating the ‘object’, with an exhibition space dedicated to some of the finest in design, art and craft. Artists including James Dodds, a shipwright-turned-painter will be exhibiting in the Long Gallery. His works illustrate the anatomy of boats, revealing how knowledge of trees and craftsmanship allow individual component parts to come together to the finished vessel. His paintings are rich in colour, tone and texture, moving beyond the literal and simultaneously evoking sailing’s mythical and historical dimensions. We are also pleased to welcome back designer Luke Hope who hand-carves ergonomic, functional implements as well as delicate, abstract vessels. He says that he loves ‘the calm of the process…working with an organic material, revealing natural form and creating new lines and shapes’.
Workshops will include chair making with artist and designer Chris Eckersley from 8-10 August, maker and designer Dom Parish will be leading the children’s workshops, creating steam-bending propellers modelled after the natural flying capacities of sycamore seeds, and lattice weaving with strips of willow. We are delighted to welcome Colin Henwood on 23-25 August, one of the leading restorers and boat builders to take a two-day course in Ash paddle making, before taking his charges to the waterside on Fonthill lake and setting them sail. Nick Ashley-Cooper, the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury and former New York DJ will close out the show on 8 September with a Supper Club to launch of his new book ‘The Rebirth of an English Country House’, charting the restoration of his family home and a celebration of great craftsmanship. A pop-up exhibition by award-winning photographer Justin Barton visually documents the conservation process.
Messum’s Wiltshire is a pioneering multi-purpose gallery and arts centre celebrating the creative endeavour.