Melissa Kretschmer: Tsunami (The Caledonian Hall, RBGE)

15 August - 6 September 1998

Inverleith House and Caledonian Hall

Two American artists, Carl Andre and Melissa Kretchmer accepted our invitation to visit Scotland for the first time and create new works in situ for the garden.

Extending the theme of the glass exhibition in the Glasshouse Experience, Melissa Kretchmer created her largest work to date along the entire north wall of the Caledonian Hall. Using layered sheets of float glass sandwiched together with applications of silicone and tar, the work measured sixty feet long by eight feet high. The materials (which are all fluids) when combined in this way, hovered between painting and sculpture; incident light is reflected across the smooth surfaces and cut edges of the component sheets, refracted between the layers beneath and reflected back from the white wall behind. When the exhibition ended, on 6 September, smaller works were on view at Inverleith House in the middle ground floor room. In these works, more precise applications of tar on successive layers of thicker glass created dark geometric forms which emerged from the blue-green depths of the glass, changing appearance noticeably with viewpoint and ambient light.

New works by Carl Andre, one of the most influential sculptors of the late twentieth century, occupied the remaining six rooms of Inverleith House. Carl Andre's work is characterised by the use of fabricated materials; blocks of poplar and cedarwood, plates of aluminium, steel, copper, zinc, tin and lead for instance, as well as firebrick, concrete and different types of stone. To date he has used granite, blue limestone and marble, but for this exhibition chose to use blocks of Scottish red sandstone, quarried at Gatelaw Bridge in Dumfriesshire. Three hundred blocks, each cut to the dimensions of 210 x 135 x 85mm were used in the making of works for the exhibition; a number of blocks resting together to create works in each room. The sandstone itself contained feint striations and irregularities which evidenced the process of sedimentation and pressure which created it over 300 million years ago. Relationships were found to exist between works in certain of the rooms, depending upon the number and configuration of the constituent blocks, the scale of the work and its orientation within each room.

Melissa Kretschmer was born in Santa Monica, California in 1962, and has held one-person exhibitions in Los Angeles, Paris, and in New York where she lives. Carl Andre was born of Scottish/Swedish descent in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1935. His numerous solo museum exhibitions have included: Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, New York (1970); Kunsthalle, Berlin (1975); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1978); Haus Lange/Haus Esters, Krefeld (1996) and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1996).

We wish to thank The Henry Moore Foundation and Scottish Natural Stone, West Calder, for their support of the exhibition and for their assistance: Lothian Glass; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Jim Ritchie, John Brazenole, Donald Urquhart and Graham Domke.

Carl Andre and Melissa Kretshmer gave a talk about their work in Inverleith House and the Caledonian Hall on Thursday 13 August.

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