British landscape (1982-93)

Michael Andrews Edinburgh (Old Town)

Michael Andrews
Edinburgh (Old Town) 1990-91
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh © June Andrews

After Ayers Rock, Andrews became increasingly aware of the connection between certain landscapes and a sense of their history. He now concentrated on the way specific landscapes are impressed with human experience and history.

This room celebrates the extraordinary range and depth of his engagement with depicting historical landscapes. SAX A.D.832 1982 (no.83) depicts the village green in Saxlingham Nethergate in Norfolk (where Andrews lived from 1981 until he returned to London in 1992). Andrews was fascinated by the great age of the village. The title is taken from the wording on the village sign, giving the date of the establishment of the village, thus announcing Andrews’s historic theme.

The centrepiece of the room is the panoramic painting A View from Uamh Mhor 1990-91 (no.86). This expansive image depicts the vastness of the Scottish landscape which formed the setting for Andrews’s stalking holidays and his stalking paintings. It contrasts with the dark and imposing view of Edinburgh (Old Town) 1990-93 (no.87) in which the brooding mass of the ancient castle, set against a bleak sky, looks down on the Grassmarket, a seventeenth-century site for executions. During his work on the painting Andrews was much affected by a necessary immersion in his subject’s historical significance and, at one point, progress ceased and the painting was turned to the wall. The final image presents a contemporary view of the Old Town, but it is a view through the lens of history. The paint, which has been allowed to spill and run, evokes the artist’s personal response to the tragic history of the place.

List of works

SAX a.d. 832 - Second Painting 1982

Oil and acrylic
152.4 x 152.4
Elaine and Melvin Merians

Daylesford 1983-4

Oil on canvas
122 x 183
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Oare, the Vale of Pewsey 1989-91

Oil on canvas
182.9 x 212.1
Private Collection

A View from Uamh Mhor 1990-91

Oil on canvas
177.8 x 355.6
Private Collection

Edinburgh (Old Town) 1990-93

Oil on canvas
183 x 274.3
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; acquired with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund, 1993