From waymarking sculptures on coastal paths to pieces made from the earth itself, outdoor art comes in many and various forms.
GALLERIES IN THE GLADES
Forests can often feel a little like galleries: the hushed atmosphere, the filtered light, the sculptural forms of the branches. It’s no surprise then that several forests have taken this one step further, installing site-specific sculptures, to help us explore and understand the woods and their history. So in the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, lines of compressed charcoal by Onya McCausland signal underground coal mines, while in Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland, Chris Drury’s Wave Chamber projects the rippling waters of the adjacent lake onto the chamber’s floor.
SCULPTURES BY THE SEA
Summer is often when we head to the coast and, just as many of our seaside towns are now home to impressive art galleries (think Margate and Dundee), so outdoor art has stepped into the limelight. Another Place by Antony Gormley is undoubtedly one of the most haunting works: 100 life-size cast-iron statues “trying to remain standing, trying to breathe,”as Gormley has said, in the shifting sands of Crosby Beach, just north of Liverpool. Due to its size, and therefore the statement it makes, a lot of outdoor art tends to be by well known artists with guaranteed ‘pulling power’ (eg, Maggi Hambling’s Scallop at Aldeburgh). It’s refreshing then to note that the five new waymarking sculptures created for the Gower coastal trail between Mumbles and Rhossili this year are all by lesser-known artists, all women, handcarving in oak.
Purpose-built sculpture parks got going in Britain in the late 1970s with the launch of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the first in the UK and, with more than 500 acres to play with, the largest of its kind in Europe. The rolling open fields provide an expansive backdrop to monumental pieces by Henry Moore, while the landscaped grounds and woods shelter works by a roll call of leading names from Elisabeth Frink to Andy Goldsworthy. Entrance is free, but donations are invited. If it’s site-specific art you’re after, head further north to Jupiter Artland, just outside Edinburgh, where collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson have invited contemporary artists to make new pieces for their 100-acre estate. Highlights include several works by Goldsworthy and Cells of Life by Charles Jencks, in which the earth itself has been sculpted into sinuous, swirling landforms.
Turn to page 64 of July's The Simple Things for more extraordinary and challenging, joyful outdoor art that helps us see the world differently.