We are delighted to present an exhibition of new work by contemporary artist Kurt Jackson, influenced by his artist residency at a working china clay works in Cornwall.

Kurt’s work is fuelled by a long standing interest in Cornwall’s extractive industry and its role in shaping the physical landscape, culture and heritage of Cornwall. Over the last 20 years, he has explored the geological workplace as a source for making art.

Colin Vallance, Managing Director of Wheal Martyn, said, “Our museum tells the story of Cornwall’s china clay mining industry, making it the perfect place to launch Kurt Jackson’s exciting new work inspired by an industry which has had an impact on so many people and is very much alive today. It is a very fitting opening exhibition in our first dedicated gallery for temporary exhibitions which opens this April.”

For this project, Kurt worked in situ at Littlejohns Clay Works, close to Wheal Martyn and thought to be the largest working clay pit in the world. His creativity was sparked by observing the workers in the pit as they extracted and transported the china clay in this extraordinary man-made landscape. The dramatic (and sometimes extreme) variations in the weather inspired a diverse range of drawings and paintings; in some cases Kurt incorporated the clay and stone itself into his art.

The exhibition includes new mixed media paintings, from huge tarpaulin-sized canvases to small intimate studies as well as a number of ceramic pieces. The subject matter ranges from the ‘washing’ of the clay with high pressure monitors, to the blasting of the rock, breaking and transportation.

A dedicated environmentalist and true polymath, Kurt’s holistic approach to his subject seamlessly blends art and politics, providing a springboard to create a hugely varied body of work unconstrained by format or scale. Kurt’s practice ranges from his trademark visceral plein-air sessions to studio work and embraces an extensive range of materials and techniques, including mixed media, large canvases, print-making and sculpture.

Our new gallery and adjoining learning and activity space have been created as part of the museum’s ‘Clay Works’ project, which has given new life to the historic Mica Dry, designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and created an associated programme of activities and volunteering opportunities. The project has been generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, Cornwall Council, Arts Council England, The Pilgrim Trust, The Wolfson Foundation, Historic England, Imerys Minerals Ltd, Pennon Environmental Fund, Cornwall Heritage Trust and the Hobson Charity.

Exhibition postponed until further notice