From the Art by Martin Urmson

Martin Urmson

Martin Urmson

First published in Entertainments

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.

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