Andrew Burton’s 2020 installation at Cheeseburn comprises of 12 Georgian urns inspired by Mary Eleanor’s beloved orangery at Gibside in Gateshead. The project was originally produced for the National Trusts Gibside Estate in 2018 as part of a Newcastle University research project called Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience.
The work features large scale ceramic vessel-like sculptures that weave a visual narrative around the story of Mary Eleanor Bowes, the Countess of Strathmore, and Gibside, focusing on Mary Eleanor’s confinement at the hands of her second husband, Andrew Robinson “Stoney”, her interests in plants and botany – including commissioning plant expeditions – as well as Georgian England itself and the source of the Bowes’ wealth, coal.
Using the vessel form as a metaphor for the relationship between Mary Eleanor and Andrew “Stoney” Robinson, he has inscribed into the surface of the clay extracts from contemporary eighteenth century texts.
There are a number of sculptures by Andrew to discover at Cheeseburn and his work often explores the reclamation and re-use of elements from his earlier sculptures. Conceived as temporary works – after a sculpture has been completed it is broken up, with the component parts salvaged to form the building blocks for the next work. His sculptures made from miniature bricks are painted or coloured before they are dismantled. Over time, and as the bricks are formed into many different sculptures they gradually acquire a surface patina composed of residual scraps of paint, cement and glaze. These surfaces convey a sense of the history of the making of the sculpture. Vessel, shown at Cheeseburn is constructed from several thousand hand-made bricks previously used in other works. Works such as Vessel play with scale, referencing both monumental and day-to-day objects. In its emphasis on the re-use and recycling of his own sculpture, the works provoke questions about the nature of monumentality and tensions between conservation and sustainability.
India has been a frequent source of inspiration. The Earth is cast from a huge tractor tyre Burton came across whilst working in the Netherlands – the title alludes both to the cycling of seasons on Earth and the way these shape agricultural production, as well as to the clay from which the sculpture is made.
Juggernaut also plays with scale and with imagined relationships between animals and architecture: two oxen appear to be pulling an impossibly huge architectural structure. The title for the work is taken from the Indian word for the huge wooden wheeled chariots that have traditionally been pulled from village temples at festival time.