Ceramics at Messums

EXHIBITIONS by some of the world’s leading ceramicists will all be on view at Messums Wiltshire, in the tithe barn and galleries at Tisbury, until 24th April. The galleries will reopen on 15th April, and anyone interested in contemporary ceramics will be able to see “in the flesh” the works that have so far only been online.

Exhibitions of ceramics by two leading Korean ceramicists Ree Soo-Jong and Lee Hun Chung can be seen in the tithe barn and the reconstructed Elisabeth Frink studio (respectively), while British Studio Ceramics will now be extended until 24th April.

British Studio Ceramics features work by Alison Britton, Stephen Dixon, Carol McNicoll , Magdalene Odundo and Martin Smith. Like the two Korean shows, this has been curated by Paul Greenhalgh and coincides with the launch of his book Ceramic, Art and Civilisation, and places this British movement as an important moment in the story of this ancient medium.

The work is powerful, beautiful, technically brilliant, occasionally witty and often thought-provoking. From the exquisite burnished pitchers and bowls by Magdalene Odundo to the ewers scored with annotated drawings by political potter Stephen Dixon, the exhibition reveals the rich diversity of styles and techniques currently at play.

Colourful, jug-eared urns by Alison Britton and jugs and urns by Carol McNicoll, both leading lights since the 1970s in the revival of ceramics in the UK, sit next to Martin Smith’s digitally printed architectonic, abstracted ceramic forms.

Stephen Dixon, Professor of Contemporary Crafts at the Manchester School of Art, uses clay, which he describes as the most ‘mundane’ of materials for social commentary and political dissent. Working in British tradition of satirical artists like Hogarth and Rowlandson, Dixon combines drawings of historical and current public figures with written annotations, layering the images and words to give depth and acuity to the narrative.

Pictured: Jug-eared urns by Alison Britton and Orthographic Shift by Martin Smith.