Lonely Planet Writer

A new sculpture park in Scotland features artwork that transforms the environment

A new venue for contemporary open-air sculpture has debuted within the grounds of Mellerstain House in Berwickshire, Scotland, with the first exhibition featuring striking artwork that disrupts and interacts with the environment and structures already in place.

The "Pointed" installation at Borders Sculpture Park at Mellerstain House.
The “Pointed” installation at Borders Sculpture Park at Mellerstain House. Image by Steve Messam

Started in 1725 by Scottish architect William Adam and completed in 1778 by his son Robert, Mellerstain house is noted as one of Scotland’s great Georgian stately houses. Standing in parkland that features a playground, a coffee shop, rose gardens, an ornamental lake and holiday cottages, Mellerstain has proven to be a popular attraction with visitors. The sculpture park is the latest addition to the offerings, having opened this month.

The "Scattered" sculpture being installed on the lake of Mellerstain Park.
The “Scattered” sculpture being installed on the lake of Mellerstain Park. Image by Steve Messam

The launch of the Borders Sculpture Park on the grounds was marked by an exhibition called XXX, featuring three pieces by Steve Messam that were inspired by the history of the house itself. Redesigned in the 1920s, the gardens were made to house marble statues in a style similar to Versailles. However, due to the cost, the use of the marble was never realised, something that Steve tried to remedy with his new installations.

“The pieces on one level recall the marble the garden was designed for – with vast forms of pure white. The shapes are drawn from the buildings and lake and are seen as extensions of the architectural forms rather than sculptures with a building. The spheres on the lake, for example, become one with it in the way, they work with the changing light and animate the vista with their constant movement,” Steve told Lonely Planet Travel News.

The "Towered" installation by Steve Messam at The Pointed installation at Borders Sculpture Park at Mellerstain House.
The “Towered” installation by Steve Messam at The Pointed installation at Borders Sculpture Park at Mellerstain House. Image by Steve Messam

The project sees the former gatehouse on the grounds being transformed with a pneumatic installation that fills the void of the building. The upper surface of it mimics the pitched roof design and contains 22 extended peaks that rise to around 3 metres above the building. The ruins of the former laundry building are also transformed with a sculpture that fills the body of the tower, while the lake at the foot of the lawn sees a collection of pure white spheres floating on the surface of the water. The balls range from one to four metres in diameter, bringing a sense of scale to the landscape.

"Scattered" features white balls that float on the lake, adding perspective to the grounds.
“Scattered” features white balls that float on the lake, adding perspective to the grounds. Image by Steve Messam

“Creating temporary artwork in the landscape is always a challenge and creating something that has to look great every day for nearly three months is a particular challenge. However, the best is yet to come. As a grand finale, the three pieces will be lit from inside under a full moon for a one night only nocturnal garden experience on 9 September,” Steve said.

XXX is open until September, with more information on visiting the Borders Sculpture Park available at the official website.