Praeteritum, Praesens et Futurum by Rowan Mersh at Gallery FUMI, London

Rowan Mersh is a multi-media sculptor who explores form through intuitive application of a material’s inherent qualities. His diverse and experimental approach to creation is epitomised by his ability to take very ordinary materials and transform them into the extraordinary. From textile sculpture to kinetic and interactive installation, Mersh’s pieces are inventive and multipurpose, bridging the realms of art, design and fashion.

Last week saw the private view of Rowan Mersh’s exhibition at the new Gallery Fumi in Mayfair. Entitled ‘Praeteritum, Praesens et Futurum’, Rowan’s works are presented at the gallery until 1st July 2017.

The gallery shared this text to contextualise Rowan Mersh’s work. 

Rowan Mersh’s experience in experimental textiles is immediately apparent in his wall-mounted, sculptural assemblages, which use hard construction to achieve a soft aesthetic. The high drama of his earlier kinetic large scale installations and his sculptural fabric works, freestanding and for the body, is now translated into a more contemplative mode, in unique wall artworks of great maturity and elegance. The works are expansive, generous in their scale, yet close examination delivers the satisfaction of individually considered parts, meticulously rendered by the artist himself.

His process is labour-intensive, involving the hand-assembly of many thousands of individual components, selected for their specific sculptural qualities when used en masse and used in organic, extensive ways. He uses responsibly-sourced materials, ranging from windowpane oyster shell discs, and dentalium shell, with all its natural variation and idiosyncrasy, through to sticks manufactured in wood with a coating of marble dust.


The works raise inevitable questions about value: some of the shells were traditionally used as currency or sacred wealth, and leather components associated with luxury brands imply a premium; but the real worth here is delivered by the artist’s unique and dedicated vision in unlocking the creative power of these strange components. 

Their sheer numbers are evocative of ruffled patterns in nature – the layering of feathers, the disturbed nap of animal fur, accretions of coral, the tentacles of sea anemones. Undulations, peaks and troughs, in reality fixed, are animated by the movement of the eye across their eddying and swirling terrain, implying life, an internal energy beneath the surface. Large-scale wall pieces may be contained within deep frames or geometric forms such as circles or squares, or are borderless and freeform, with motifs coalescing and dispersing across the wall surface. They are at the same time complementary to interior architecture and invested with an internal, dynamic architecture of their own.


Regularly exhibiting internationally with Gallery Fumi, Mersh’s sculptures have been acquired by major private and public collections the world over, most notably the V&A, Jerwood and The Crafts Council collections. His commissions and special projects include works for the Mercury Music Prize, Fendi and Veuve Clicquot. Mersh ia a graduate of the Royal College of Art in 2005, and continues to live and work in London.


Mersh’s works have been acquired by private and public collections worldwide.

Images courtesy of Shira Klasmer for Gallery Fumi, gallery text by Sara Roberts.

Gallery Fumi, 2 Hay Hill, Mayfair, London, W1J 6AS

Visit the Gallery Fumi website here.