18 Mar 2021

Sculpture Parks to Visit...

Unframe London

Sculpture Parks to Visit...

We have compiled a list of Britain’s most captivating sculpture gardens and parks to visit once rules allow.

With the possibility of being able to travel in the near future, why not plan a trip to sculpture parks and gardens within the UK. See the unexpected on your next walk in the countryside, with our list of some of Britain’s most captivating sculpture gardens and parks to explore. We at Unframe have compiled an array of brilliant parks to visit once rules allow. Mostly, these sculpture parks and gardens are only available to local residents, but soon they will be opening their gates again. We touch upon the impressive selection of exhibitions to look forward to for the fast approaching Spring/Summer of 2021.

Plensa Sculpture
‘Dream’, 2009. Jaume Plensa. Courtesy of St Helens Reporter

Dream, St Helens

The large-scale, meditative sculpture ‘Dream’ stands 20 metres high on the former site of Sutton Manor Colliery in St Helens. The powerfully dream-like face is designed by the renowned artist Jaume Plensa. The contemporary Spanish artist is best known for his portrayals of the human face using sculpture and innovative technology. Markedly, the sculpture was chosen by a number of ex-miners and was eventually commissioned by St Helens Council. The gateway sculpture stands overlooking the M62, at the heart of the North West connecting Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

UK Sculpture Park
‘Dream’, 2009. Jaume Plensa. Courtesy of Cheshire Now

In particular, Plensa’s sculptures takes the form of a young girl’s head with her eyes closed and in a seemingly dreamlike state of being. In many ways, Plensa is responding to the brief and conversations he had with the wider community and specifically the ex-miners. Plensa intended for the piece to evoke feelings of a brighter future amongst the community, whilst creating a serene and contemplative space for people. In this case, ‘Dream’ is fabricates from cast concrete and has a white and luminescent patina. The glowing white shade chosen for the sculpture’s finish stands in stark contrast to the black coal that still lies in the ground of the historical site. ‘Dream’ is also intended to symbolise the post-industrial transformation in St Helens, and the regional landmark is open all year round to visitors.

Henry Moore Hadham
‘Henry Moore Foundation’, 2019. Courtesy of Rick Ligthelm

Henry Moore, Hertfordshire

The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens are the work place and family residence of the 20th century sculptor Henry Moore, in Hadham, Hertfordshire. In addition, the grounds make up over 70 acres of sculpture gardens and rolling hills for visitors to explore. Each year within the sculptures gardens, the Henry Moore studios showcase over 20 of Moore’s monumental sculptures. In particular, these displays depict Moore’s sculptures in the landscape he intended them to be in. In this case, his bronze and stone human-like depictions sit in contrast to their natural surroundings.

Henry Moore Sculpture Parks
‘Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Hertfordshire’, 2019. Courtesy of the Henry Moore Foundation

In addition, Moore’s six studio spaces are on view for viewers to explore once rules allow. The different studio spaces hold an array of objects and tools used by the artist when art-making, including maquettes, carving, etching and drawing materials. As well as Moore’s studios, the Hadham family home houses an extraordinary collection of art and natural objects, collected by the artist. And within the Aisled Barn, a structure Moore relocated to his estate, is his collection of unique tapestries. The studios and the upcoming‘This Living Hand’ exhibition will open earliest 19 May. The exhibition is curated by artist and author Edmund de Waal and explores the role of touch, and the iconography of the hand in Henry Moore’s work. As well as this, the gardens will reopen on the 31 March.

Vasconcelos Sculpture
‘Pop Galo’, 2016. Joana Vasconcelos. Courtesy of Hyperallergic

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Situated in West Bretton, Wakefield in West Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is considered an open air gallery open to the public. The park exhibits work by both British and international artists, together with Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. In particular, Yorkshire Sculpture Park holds one of the largest open air displays in Europe of the bronze work of Henry Moore. Currently, Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents four major sculptures by Damien Hirst in their grounds. One piece in the outdoor current exhibition is Hirst’s 2002-2003 sculpture ‘Charity’, which is based on the Scope collection boxes seen on British high streets during the 1960s and 1970s. Subsequently, the work questions outdated forms of depicting the disabled and seeking charity.

Damien Hirst Sculpture
‘Charity’, 2002-2003. Damien Hirst. Courtesy of The Star

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park grounds are currently open for local people living in the area, however all indoor galleries are temporarily closed. The outdoor sculpture collection in it’s entirety remains accessible, including the vibrant work of Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. In short, sculptural works in the park are large scale and all encompassing despite their pastoral setting. Additionally, if you live locally, the park offers respite in a time of great unrest due to the global pandemic. Currently, the sculpture park exhibits four major sculptures by Damien Hirst as part of their exhibition which will be shown until April 2022.

Sculpture Parks
‘Tame Buzzard Line’, 2001. Richards Long. Courtesy of New Art Centre

New Art Centre, Salisbury

The existing house at Roche Court, Salisbury was built in 1904, however these grounds are now used as a sculpture park and garden. The New Art Centre park and gardens house a vast collection of iconic contemporary art works. Currently, the Roche Court Sculpture Park remains open during the national lockdown. Importantly, the park and gardens continue to provide a peaceful place for local visitors.

New Art Centre
‘Shapes in the Clouds IV’, 2014. Peter Randall-Page. Courtesy of New Art Centre

As well as the park and gardens, the New Art Centre consists of a gallery and artists house, which houses smaller works of art. There are three contemporary buildings on site, where in which there is a changing programme of exhibitions of artists from 1950 to the present day. All indoor spaces at the New Art Centre are closed until further notice. However, when the park was opened, the galleries were designed so that work exhibited could be enjoyed from the outside.

Charles Jencks
‘Cells of Life’, 2008. Charles Jencks. Courtesy of Country & Town House

Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh showcases architectural constructions and sculptures, as well as earth and land art from contemporary leading artists. The vast grounds of the ‘artland’ present contemporary artworks within a natural landscape. Importantly, this natural environment is considered when each artists makes their artworks and often comes into each work’s meaning. Surrounding the historic jacobean manor house are woodlands, gardens and fields which house the artworks. Every work included in Jupiter Artland is site specific and is intended to be integrated into the natural surroundings in which they sit. Jupiter Artland present new projects, events and commissioned work annually.

Marc Quinn Sculpture Parks
‘The Love Bomb’, 2006. Marc Quinn. Courtesy of Courtney Whyte

The directors Robert and Nicky Wilson don’t intend the grounds to be a sculpture park, however they use the term artland to portray their focus equally on the land element. They intend for the art within their grounds to ‘increase’ the landscape, in particular due to the nature of the works being site specifically made.

In this example, Marc Quinn made his 2006 ‘Love Bomb’ specifically for Jupiter Artland. As part of his 2000 series ‘Garden’, this sculpture is the largest and stands 12 metres high in the grounds. Within this piece, Quinn meditates on the human obsession with all things beautiful and the impossibility of maintaining this. Jupiter Artland is open for local visitors only from the 1 April 2021. However, ‘Jupiter Rising’ the two-night campout festival begins on Saturday 28 August. Alongside this, there will be an exciting new commission by Scottish artist Rachel Maclean, marking the opening of their 13th season in 2021.

Derek Jarman
‘Prospect Cottage’, 1990-1994. Derek Jarman. Courtesy of Howard Sooley

Prospect Garden, Dungeness

Lastly, artist and film director Derek Jarman created the famous ‘Prospect Garden’ on the shingle shore of Dungeness. The garden is close by to the Dungeness nuclear power station. Jarman creates a post-modern and context sensitive style for the garden, this can be seen by viewers from afar. The film director Jarman rejected modernist design theory. Above all, he strongly disliked the sterile nature of modernism and this is evident in the garden’s serene but wild design. He adorned the garden with miniature monolith like stone compilations, each made up of what seems to be found rocks and stones. The space around this modest cottage is Dungeness in Kent, simultaneously the property is not open to the public, nor is it closed. Visitors are free to wander around his beautiful garden and it is well worth a visit.

Derek Jarman UK Sculpture Parks
‘Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage’, Derek Jarman. Courtesy of BFI

Jarman’s Garden

In ‘Prospect Garden’, Jarman made small circles of flint, harking to UK standing stones and the megalithic tombs called dolmens. Jarman said “Paradise haunts gardens, and some gardens are paradises. Mine is one of them. Others are like bad children, spoilt by their parents, over-watered and covered with noxious chemicals.” In other parts of the garden, Jarman includes extracts of poems. These include John Donne’s ‘The Sun Rising’. Opening times of Derek Jarman’s garden can be seen from the road nearby. Jarman’s alluring garden is always open for visitors to pass by.

A sense of freedom amongst those who love to explore contemporary art outdoors returns with the re-opening of these venues. Some of the most compelling sculpture parks and gardens in the UK will open their gates to the public this Spring. These sculpture parks and gardens predominantly are only available to local residents currently. However, a rich programme of outdoor exhibitions are available in almost all of the parks mentioned.