Image Credit Cecile Paul
Just under 10 miles west of Edinburgh, cozily nestled in a spectacularly lush pocket of rural Scotland and ensconced in the grounds of the fetching 19th century Bonnington House sits an emerald jewel in the crown of bonnie Scotland. Aptly named after the largest planet in our solar system – the planet of ‘miracles and blessings’ – this magical sculpture park meandering through a vast 120 acres of epic woodland and meadows more than lives up its poignant connotations.
On an outrageously spectacular sunny summer’s day one August we decided to take a drive out to the quaint hamlet of Wilkieston to go see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. As any Scotsman would gladly tell you, when the weather is on one’s side in Scotland, it easily beats just about anywhere in the world for beauty. It was indeed on such a lucky day that we had the pleasure to experience Edinburgh’s best kept secret. We were given a map that located the artworks en route, with the instruction, ‘whether you opt to go clockwise or anti-clockwise, is, your choice’.
We opted for neither, discarded the map and proceeded to follow our gut into the wild. And boy, were we in for an enchanting walk through Mother Nature … she kept delivering ‘miracles and blessings’ around every corner of this diverse landscape. It was not unlike a mini universe we found ourselves in, proceeding through entirely man-made, controlled space-age sculptural mounds and precisely contoured water features by artist Charles Jencks, that soon unraveled to become wild and untamed forests with ancient witchy trees reminiscent of scenes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth as one kept wandering. Although we didn’t meet the Three Wayward Sisters there, we did have the pleasure of the acquaintance of Laura Ford’s Five Weeping Girls with their distressed postures and wild hair.
We saw many other wonderous creations, for example Cornelia Parker’s Gun and Tree – a mammoth shotgun leaned casually against the trunk of an ancient tree, Shane Waltener’s Over Here giant knitted spider’s web with sunlight shimmering through the sports and Phyllida Barlow’s Quarry (2018) – a trio of sculptures that comprise of two dystopian concrete pillars with sky frames that stand adjacent to a mountainous boulder, all intrinsically comfortable in the landscape they inhabit.
Jupiter Artland is the brainchild of art collectors Nicky and Robert Wilson who own, fund and inhabit the grounds. The phenomenal sculpture collection was established in 1999 and in 2015 two new wings were created to house indoor gallery space. Over the past two decades Jupiter Artland has attracted extraordinary global talent like Nathan Coley, Charles Jencks, Antony Gormley, Phyllida Barlow, Christian Boltanski, Helen Chadwick, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Anya Gallaccio, Andy Goldsworthy, Anish Kapoor, Tania Kovats, Cornelia Parker and Joana Vasconcelos.
Joana Vasconcelos, a Portuguese sculptor, wowed the world of art with her giant metallic stiletto named Carmen Miranda (2008) confidently parked in front of the manor house to celebrate Jupiter Artland’s tenth birthday. A piece like her unforgettable Red Independence Heart (2005), an immense blood red rotating piece seemingly made from precious jewels hanging from the ceiling in the Jacobean ballroom, shimmers as it rotates to a Portuguese soundtrack. Up close one realizes the piece is in fact constructed from 1000 pieces of plastic cutlery, bound together by filigree.
For more Information on Jupiter Artland and the artists:
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Some of the artworks are permanent installations, others are seasonal. Be sure to catch the visiting attractions!
Jupiter Artland reopened for the summer season on 30th April 2022 and will remain open until September 2022, five days a week 10am – 5pm. For more information on tickets and directions, see:
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