The orangery urns by Andrew Burton

Andrew Burton working on artworks

Sculptor Andrew Burton has created a new temporary visual art collection which takes inspiration from the 12 Georgian urns that once graced Mary Eleanor’s beloved orangery.

The collection features numerous large scale ceramic vessel-like sculptures that weave a visual narrative around the story of Mary Eleanor Bowes, the Countess of Strathmore, and Gibside.

Each urn aims to be a creative response to different aspects of Mary Eleanor's experiences at Gibside.

In particular, 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.

From Saturday 12 May to Sunday 30 September they can be found at various points within the walled garden, as well as a very small collectioin just outside the garden walls, next to the avenue.

These large structures are not replicas of the original urns. Instead, they are inspired by Gibside's scale and the Ancient Greek and Roman influences on its architecture.

Measuring approximately 1.7m high by 90cm in diameter and weighing 200kgs, each urn is made from professional clays that have been formulated for colour and strength. They are then fired at very high (stoneware) temperature which makes the fired clay body extremely strong and resilient.

The orangery vessels is part of 'Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience’. A research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

For more information visit