Between Concrete and Wood, solo exhibition at & Gallery, Edinburgh, 2024

Installation view, & Gallery, Edinburgh, March 2024

Between Concrete and Wood : Catalogue Essay

Andrew Mackenzie grew up near a community woodland on a hill in NE Scotland. On the top of the hill, surrounded by trees, stands a disused concrete WW2 Observation Post, which became a den and playground. This obsolete and decaying structure, like a folly or a temple, provides the starting point for much of Andrew’s subsequent interest in relationships between human    -made structures and woodland, drawing attention to the ambiguities and complexities around how we see the landscape. This interest finds its current focus in the artists on-going exploration of the area around where he lives in the Scottish Borders.

This exhibition brings together several new paintings based on Bernat Klein’s wood and glass modernist house near Selkirk, High Sunderland, designed by the renowned British architect, Peter Wormersley and built in 1958. In early 2023, with kind permission of the owners, Andrew spent a day there, drawing and photographing. The resulting paintings took a full year to realise, and celebrate the balanced light and warmth of the building and its setting within the landscape. Elements of the surroundings have been adapted but the depictions of the forms and proportions of the house are closely observed. Accompanying these are a series of small abstract paintings responding to the gracefully poised concrete geometry of Netherdale Stadium in Galashiels, also designed by Wormersley and built in 1964, recently restored by Reiach and Hall Architects.

Showing alongside are a series of paintings displaying aspects of an area of clear-fell in much-loved woodland very near the artists’ home, partially felled by Storm Arwen and recently cleared and replanted. One large painting shows the resulting log-pile, with future (or past) imagined trees and protective tree tubes repopulating the area – presenting simultaneously either a hopeful vision of a future where tree-planting is accelerated, or a sense of deep time before the clearing of trees for agriculture. In another large scale work, Viewing Platform, a boardwalk for accessing and viewing neolithic stone carvings in the Kilmartin Valley is transposed into the clear-fell of local woods, uniting Andrew’s long-term fascination with early human marks on the land and his observations on how land is managed and used now – a call perhaps for us to consider the everyday life cycles occurring under our noses.

The common ground between the work is that they all prompt questions around human entanglement with place; whether a revered modernist classic building, a cleared area of woodland, a damaged fence around abandoned land, or a back street fire-exit. There is a tension here between Andrew’s deep regard for modernist painting, sculpture and architecture, and his awareness of the damaging separation of nature and culture, of subject and object, presented by modernism, as explored in Bruno Latour’s 1991 book We Have Never Been Modern. This separation is playing out today in how we regard ecology, of which we are a part.

Installation view, & Gallery, Edinburgh
Installation view, & Gallery, Edinburgh


Barn Nocturne 1, Oil on panel 24 X 12cm 2023/24
Barn Nocturne 2, oil on panel 24 X 12cm 2023/24
Car Port 1, oil on panel 24 X 12cm 2023/34
Car Port 2, oil on panel 60 X 30cm 2023/24
Car Port 3, oil on panel 60 X 30cm 2023/24
Carport 3, detail
Fire Exit, oil on panel 120 X 60cm 2023/24
Fire Exit, detail
House 1 , oil on panel 110 X 55cm 2023/24
House 2, oil on panel 110 X 55cm 2023/24
House 2, detail
House 3, oil on panel 76 X 76cm 2023/24
House 4, oil on panel 30 X 30cm 2023/24
House 5, oil on panel 24 X 12cm 2023/24
Log Pile, oil on panel 150 X 75cm 2023/24
Log Pile, detail
Phantom Limb 54 X 36cm Charcoal, soft pastel and gouache on paper 2024
Quarry 6, oil on panel 60 X 30cm 2023/24
Stadium 1, orange, oil on panel 37 X 21.5cm 2023/24
Stadium 2, Yellow, oil on panel 37 X 21.5cm 2023/24
Stadium 3, Blue, oil on panel 37 X 21.5cm 2023/24
Tennis Court 54 X 27cm charcoal and soft pastel on paper 2023
Viewing Platform, oil on panel 150 X 75cm 2023/24
Viewing Platform, detail
Waste Land, oil on panel 60 X 30cm 2023/24