'XXX' by Steven Messam.
‘XXX’ is a series of three temporary installations in the grounds of Mellerstain House from 14 July. The three outdoor pieces explore their sense of space, presence and place – each one working with the environment to temporarily disrupt it and transform the way they are viewed and perceived.
Each piece also seeks to unfold some of the many layers of narrative bound up in the house and gardens and the wider landscape.
The former gatehouse known as the Pekingese Stud cottage is transformed with a pneumatic installation that fills the void of the main building. The upper surface of the form mimics the pitched roof and contains 22 extended peaks which rise up to 3m above the roofline of the building.
The ruin of the former Laundry building near the beck will be transformed with an internal pneumatic installation that fills the interior body of the tower and extends its height with a series of basaltic column-like pillars extending above the current roofline to an overall height of around 8m.
On the lake at the foot of the lawn a collection of pure white spheres float on the surface of the water. ‘Scatter’ is a series of spheres which disrupt the wide open space of the water and play with its scale, surface and light. The balls, at a variety of sizes from 1m to 4m diameter bring a sense of scale to the landscape. The pieces appear to be scattered randomly across the upper half of the lake and are visible both from the terrace by the house and from the far side of the lake looking back towards the house, offering a fresh perspective on familiar views.
As with the other pieces, the simple white forms echo the idea of marble statues originally envisaged for the garden, yet symbolise nothing and are just pure forms that say as much about the scale and form of the landscape as their own form and scale. Each piece is as ambiguous as the names of the buildings and their narratives partially lost in time.