Is the cold weather threatening to keep you indoors this winter? We’ve picked six of the best outdoor-sculpture sites in Britain, guaranteed to blow out the cobwebs.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
The historical pleasure grounds around Bretton Hall, West Yorkshire, host a collection of statuesque sculptures and various 18th-century follies, which include a deer shelter and chapel, that complement the undulating 500-acre landscape, lovingly shaped by the families that have lived there since the land was catalogued as ‘waste’ in the Domesday Book. Weather-brave pieces currently on show include works by Barbara Hepworth, Gary Hume, Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink and Joan Miró—there are now five indoor galleries, too, and a restaurant that serves a mean treacle tart (www.ysp.co.uk).
Another Place, Crosby Beach, Merseyside
‘Here, time is tested by tide, architecture by the elements and the prevalence of sky seems to question the Earth’s substance.’ Antony Gormley, creator of the 100 life-size figures that stand on blustery Crosby Beach, was inspired by the ebb and flow of the sea to comment on Man’s relationship with Nature. His cast-iron sculptures are scattered along this dramatic coastline for a stretch of about two miles, gazing out over the Irish Sea like lonely sentinels, ever faithful to their posts, even when submerged up to their waists in sand or seawater (www.sefton.gov.uk).
Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Gloucestershire
Start at the giant’s throne, Place by Magdalena Jetelova, then head deeper into the ancient woodland and former hunting ground of Norman kings, where 17 further monumental sculptures by artists such as the late Keir Smith, who constructed his The Iron Road on a stretch of disused railway, blend into four miles of sun-dappled woodland, evoking the forest’s medieval and industrial past. Be sure not to miss Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Grove of Silence, a series of signs carved in wood and stone, and Kevin Atherton’s Cathedral, an enormous stained-glass window hanging amid the trees (www.forestofdean-sculpture.org.uk).
Derek Jarman’s garden, Dungeness, Kent
The wildflower-strewn garden around late filmmaker Derek Jarman’s tiny clapboard Prospect Cottage is littered with driftwood sculptures and miniature stone circles in flint—not quite on the scale of a sculpture park, but powerful nonetheless. Hardy coastal plants fight for space amid the salt-spattered shingle, overlooked by an inscribed excerpt from a John Donne poem, The Sunne Rising, and the brooding Dungeness power station in the distance. ‘Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we… Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere.’ Derek Jarman’s garden is not open to the public, but can be seen from the road on the sea front.
Jupiter Artland, West Lothian
Opened only a few years ago, Jupiter Artland, in the 80-acre grounds of Bonnington House, near Edinburgh, has quickly established itself as a hub for contemporary sculpture. Upon entering the gates, the first thing you see is a fantastical landscape of eight contoured and ridged hills surrounding four lakes and overseen by swooping swallows, designed by architectural theorist Charles Jencks. There’s no set path here and spontaneous exploration is encouraged. Other unforgettable sights include a grotto with undulating walls of amethyst and Turner Prize-nominee Cornelia Parker’s 30ft-tall shotgun propped casually against a tree (www.jupiterartland.org).
Broomhill Sculpture Gardens, Devon
Alive with tales of smugglers and shipwrecks, this woodland garden, in a glorious north Devon valley, is home to one of the largest permanent collections of contemporary sculpture in the South-West. The 300-odd pieces set amid the emerging daffodils and bluebells include the evocative figures—in bronze, wire, wood, steel and stone—of humans, animals and mythical creatures alike by artists including Anna Gillespie, Ronald Westerhuis and Tian Zhu. The garden is bound by a stream and comes with its own hotel (guests go round for free) and the Valley of the Rocks and South West Coast Path are on the doorstep (www.broomhillart.co.uk)