On Monday 17 May, we unveiled a new exhibition by contemporary artist Kurt Jackson, inspired by his time at Littlejohns Clay Works in Cornwall.

After our closure during the recent lockdown, we opened our doors on Monday, revealing the new exhibition, ‘Clay Country’, to the public. The body of work will be displayed in the museum’s brand new gallery space until 5 September 2021.

Colin Vallance, 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.”

Jackson’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. 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 weather variations 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. 

Our new gallery and adjoining learning and activity space have been created as part of our ‘Clay Works’ project, which has given new life to the historic Mica Dry, a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument, and also created a 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.

The exhibition is free, included as part of normal museum admission. 

Find out more about the exhibition here.