A house such as Mompesson is full of stories, some obvious, some that require delving into and teasing out. This exhibition looks at connections between contemporary sculpture and the historic objects, furnishings and architectural fabric of this Queen Anne house. It explores the evolving story of how creative imaginations and the skilled touch of hands working with expensive or low value materials have shaped lives and the look of this house across the centuries.
Many contemporary artists continue to be drawn to finding ways of achieving their visions by combining their imagination with the challenges involved in mastering skills and developing a deep understanding of their chosen material.
The aim is to support emerging artists, both national and local, by presenting their work alongside that of sculptors with established international reputations.
The majority of work exhibited is for sale.
The Veronica Stewart Arts Trust with the National Trust
Curated by Annette Ratuszniak
Dave Cousins, courtesy The National Trust and Roger Elliot.
SCULPTURE often presents me with a problem. I don’t easily get the point and am left wondering why three dimensions seem to amount to less than two. The current exhibition at Mompesson House, however, I have found to be an absolute delight.
This early 18th century National Trust property is delightful in itself of course, and deserves regular visits as it regularly includes special exhibitions in the entry price. This really is an excellent place to take friends visiting Salisbury, especially so during this contemporary sculpture exhibition.
I didn’t like all the 68 works on show. They are diverse, from 21 contributing artists, so there’s no reason why anybody should ‘get’ them all. The charm of the exhibition rests in the way the art has become part of the furnishings, integrated into the fabric of the house itself. The works in various media combine high quality craft skills with interesting concepts and are most sympathetically displayed.
There are some familiar artists here: Elizabeth Frink, Keith Rand and Roger Stephens, all of whom have links with the Cathedral. Materials used range from paper, wool, wood, glass, stone, and many of the pieces might not be considered to be sculpture in the traditional sense. This eclectic mix allows the work to be placed in a variety of settings, from garden to dining room to bedroom. The unfurnished upstairs bedroom is laid out as conventional gallery space and it is here that I found two of my favourite objects. Planktos by Roger Stephens resembles a seed head or fruit; its pure white smooth alabaster seems neither solid nor liquid; sublime in an almost spiritual way. Mary Spencer Watson’s Muse, on the other hand, is rough terracotta, a standing female figure that reminds me of Ernst Barlach’s naive works. I might even have bought the former, but it has already been sold.
One can approach the rest of the house and gardens as a treasure hunt, as finding the work is not always easy. Printed guide sheets are available in all the rooms, so be sure to check. There is much more to please the eye. Peter Randall-Page’s organic forms, Jacki Parry’s delicate casts of hand-made paper, Karen Howarth’s ceramic tiles and wall-hangings, and stone carving by Gary Breeze. The curator Annette Ratuszniak, who works for the Elizabeth Frink Estate, has created a show that feels like a breath of fresh air. It runs until November 2.
It is something of a truism to say that good contemporary art and design can often look at its best in a genuinely antique setting, but of course that depends -both on the work and the quality of the setting. In 'Material Connections across the Ages', at Mompesson House in Salisbury, you have the best of both, with one of the most sensitive of contemporary curators, Annette Ratuszniak, doing the selecting and placing in what is one of the most perfect and beautifully conserved Queen Anne town houses in the country. Ratuszniak's approach was to find sculptures/objects in a variety of materials - glass, paper, wood, textile, ceramic, artist's book, stone, bronze and willow fibre - that reflect and update those used in the structure and interior of the building itself. Siting the objects in and alongside fixtures and fittings of the house, the outcomes are intriguing, from Laura Ellen Bacon's sinuous woven willow sculptures that welcome you into the house to Sally Fawkes' tiny exquisite cast, mirrored engraved, glass object found nestling by a place-setting on the dining room table - a modern fingerbowl? I could go on, but you'll just have to see for yourselves: it's on until 2nd November.
Annet focuses on inscriptions and ‘word sculpture’, working with stone and the marks that tools can make to influence her designs and carving.×
Charlotte’s original work is made in wood and wax before being cast in bronze or fabricated in stainless steel. Wind, fire, water, clouds all play their part in her inspiration.×
Elisabeth Frink’s sculptures embody the ambiguities of human relationships, injustice and impermanence that also have such impact on the animal world and the earth.×
Gary has developed an innovative approach to letter carving in stone and wood, conveying meaning through mark and notation.×
Gary explores the forms of nature through sculptural felted knitting, using Fibonacci number sequences that ‘grows’ the knitting.×
Gillian works in stained glass, creating images inspired by nature and the monumental heads of antiquity.×
Jacki works with the development of translucent, strong membranes from pulp. Inspired by changes in landscape and the containment and manipulation of information.×
Jane’s hand embroidery employs techniques including silk paper-making, painting and modelling. Her inspiration comes from the natural world and butterflies in particular.×
Jay works with stone and pigmented resin, carving them to create sculptures that reflect relationships between natural and built environments.×
Karen makes handmade ceramic wall pieces and tiles, exploring mark-making and texture. Her inspiration is drawn from natural and man-made landscapes.×
Laura uses natural materials, predominately willow. Her woven work often has a relationship to a host structure, such as a building.×
Linda creates unique, limited edition hand made books that combine linocut, woodcut or wood engravings with letterpress texts. Inspired by historic and contemporary texts.×
Mary Spencer Watson worked within the tradition of direct carving. The humanist and naturalistic themes that she explored often related to Blake and the Metaphysical Poets,×
Patricia builds coil pots by hand creating forms on which to paint subjects inspired by the wildlife and chalk downs of her surroundings.×
Peter’s work is inspired and informed by the study of the diversity of natural phenomena and its subjective effect on our emotions.×
Richard works in kiln cast glass, animated with layers of textural marks and carved calligraphic strokes, often informed by his interest in memory and time.×
Roger Stephens works from stone, finely finishing the surfaces of the forms , reflecting his observations of outside forces on the natural environment.×
Sally works primarily in kiln cast glass, at times introducing mirrored surfaces to engage the observer’s imagination on a journey of visual exploration within the sculpture.×
Sher works purely in paper to make her sculptures. She is often inspired by stories, myths and legends.×
Keith Rand developed a unique technique of carving timbers to wafer thin sections creating semi-abstract, figurative shapes inspired by plants, animals and landscapes.×