The second season of Borders Sculpture Park at Mellerstain House, Gordon launches with The Messenger, a series of newly commissioned artworks by British artist Hilary Jack.
The Messenger is a series of four site-specific works in the landscape, made in response to the rich history of Mellerstain House and the fascinating characters who lived there, revealing the intriguing story of the family that has created and maintained of one of Scotland’s most outstanding examples of 18th century architecture, as well as the wider and turbulent history of the Borders.
Curated by Sarah Coulson of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, each of Jack’s four artworks in The Messenger focuses on a different aspect of this compelling narrative, from Mellerstain House’s foundation in 1725 to the present day. The first lady of the house, Lady Grisel Baillie (1665 – 1746), known for her meticulous bookkeeping that conveys a detailed and engaging picture of household life, stands as a strong and inspiring female presence throughout the series and was a source of particular inspiration to the artist.
Mellerstain’s beautifully decorated interior is celebrated in ‘In Memoriam’ - a 25-metre wide drawing on the lawn in white turf paint. This piece also serves as a memorial to the 13th Earl, John Baillie Hamilton, a British peer and politician famed for his extensive knowledge of crop circles and interest in the paranormal, who resided at Mellerstain throughout his life until his death in 2016.
Also on the lawn is Look Out a recreation of a former observation tower that once stood between the east and west wings of the house.
Overlooking the lake stands a bold large-scale white neon text work, mounted high on a scaffold, entitled No Borders. An ode to George and Grisel Baillie’s free spirited travels, it reads ‘No Borders, Just Horizons, Only Freedom’, a quote by American aviator and feminist icon Amelia Earheart. This quote also reminds visitors of Mellerstain’s close proximity to the Anglo Scottish border and alludes to contemporary debates on Scottish independence, Brexit and the wider role of borders, referencing both personal boundaries and freedom of movement.
The Messenger will be on display from May 4 – October 1. Full details available at www.mellerstain.com.