The Fantastic Jupiter Artland

About 15 years ago, Robert and Nicky Wilson bought Bonnington House, a Jacobean manor outside Edinburgh, Scotland, and decided it was the perfect spot for a sculpture park. Over the years, the couple have created Jupiter Artland, a fantastic playground for contemporary art and nature lovers.

Commissioning works from some of the leading land artists, sculptors, and landscape designers, they have clearly thought hard about the locations of the artworks within the landscape. Pieces have been added slowly. The team have even paused at certain points to let “the land heal itself” and let the art works “naturally sit in the woods.” They write: “It’s over time that we are learning the benefits of getting to know the work well.”

The team recently celebrated the completion of landscape architect Charles Jenck’s Cells of Life landform (see image above and below). In this awe-inspiring piece, eight landforms and a connecting causeway surround lakes and a flat area designed for sculpture exhibits.

They write: “The theme is the life of the cell, cells as the basic units of life, and the way one cell divides into two in stages called mitosis.”

See larger images along with a brief video with Jencks that explains his design process:

There is clearly much more to see. As the couple explain, the park is a place for true exploration. “Visitors to Jupiter Artland are given a map indicating the location of the artworks within the grounds. But there’s no set route. Clockwise or anticlockwise is your choice. As is a left turn here or a right turn there; or the retracing of steps for a second look. The artworks are land marks, events, confrontations on a journey of discovery; an open-ended journey.”

Of the many works scattered throughout, one highlight is Patterns by Sara Parker, a Glasgow-based artist. The sculpture is a delicate piece that “echoes architectural forms.” The work is made up of inter-connecting pieces of glass, brass, and aluminium set on a base of concrete, materials that richly contrast with the natural setting.

Another art work also has a dialogue with its natural context. In A Forest, artist Jim Lambie used “tessellated panels of spray painted chrome peeled back” to reveal flashes of color and reflections of the surrounding nature.

And then there’s the wild Firmanent by Antony Gormley. Constructed from 1,019 steel balls held up by 1,770 steel bands welded together, this polygonal structure brings to “mind an assembled matrix of volumes that map a celestial constellation, while also implying the form of a body lost within it. Not a celestial body, but a real one made by scanning the artist’s own body.”

Lastly, Anish Kapoor, famous in the U.S. for his popular “bean” sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park, created Suck, a spookier addition to his portfolio. This piece is “surrounded by a 17 feet square cage which enables the viewer to glimpse the smooth curves of the void sinking into the earth. The void descends to an infinite depth into which one is drawn. It engenders a sense of dislocation and a fear of being pulled into the abyss.”

Explore Jupiter Artland

Also, for those in the U.S., check out a great new guide book by Francesca Pigola called Art Parks, which covers a number of sculpture parks and gardens across America.

Image credit: (1-3) Jupiter Artland / Allan Pollok-Morris, (4) Patterns / Keith Hunter. Courtesy Jupiter Artland, (5) A Forest / Keith Hunter. Courtesy Jupiter Artland, (6) Firmanent / Ray Cox. Courtesy Jupiter Artland, (7) Courtesy of Jupiter Artland

One thought on “The Fantastic Jupiter Artland

  1. Simon 09/03/2013 / 2:46 pm

    This is a really great article. I had not heard of Jupiter Artland. I have been to the Garden of Cosmic Speculation and will definitely visit some time.

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