Jupiter Artland - outdoor work by high-profile contemporary artists
David Pollock takes a trip out of town to Jupiter Artland, which combines works by high-profile contemporary artists with a beautiful outdoor setting
‘This isn’t a sculpture park,’ says Robert Wilson, co-director, along with his wife Nicky, of the recently-opened Jupiter Artland. ‘We think of it as something different. That’s why we used the word “artland”, because we want to focus equally on the land element. The intention is that the art will increase the landscape it’s in and the landscape will enhance the art, particularly because the artists have been able to place their own work.’
The project, based in the grounds of the Wilsons’ Bonnington House estate in West Lothian, is, essentially, a good walk in the countryside pleasantly interrupted by some first class environmental art. Driving through a pair of black gates freshly decorated with nail-studded orbs, and along a light-dappled driveway canopied by trees, visitors’ first sight of the estate proper is the artificial hills of Charles Jencks’ ‘Life Forms’ rising on either side of the road, their moulded, spiralling grass verges and shaped, shallow gravel pools reflecting the shapes of the tadpole-shaped benches on top of each hill, and surely familiar to anyone who has marvelled at Jencks’ ‘Landform’ in the garden of Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Dumfries-based Jencks was the first artist contacted by the Wilsons after they moved up from London five years ago. Nicky Wilson is originally from Edinburgh and studied sculpture at Camberwell College of Arts and Chelsea College of Art and Design. Once she and Robert married, as he has it, ‘She put all her creativity into raising children, so this is her way back into art through another route.’
Comprising a woodland walk past more than a dozen permanent outdoor works, Jupiter Artland has been beautifully put together, no doubt in large part due to the artists’ siting of their work. Antony Gormley’s ‘Firmament’, a mesh of steel framework representing an old star map, is deliberately sited against the sky, although it’s also possible from its siuation on the edge of the wood to view it juxtaposed against the similarly over-engineered Forth Bridge.
Other works enjoy an eerie solitude in the heart of the woodland: Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Stone House – Bonnington’, a period-effect-stone cottage housing a rocky-landscaped floor; Anish Kapoor’s ‘Suck’, a cast-iron framed pit in the ground caged-off and obscured from proper view by a 17ft-high cage; Laura Ford’s ‘Weeping Girls’, a series of carved, pale figures shaped like young girls, their faces obscured but their body language suggesting lonely fear.
Artists whose work also features across the site and within the stable-block gallery space and visitor centre include Ian Hamilton Finlay, Marc Quinn, Alec Finlay and Peter Liversidge. According to Wilson, new works by Nathan Coley, Jim Lambie and Cornelia Parker will be installed over the winter season closure as part of a planned annual expansion. ‘We want people to enjoy our collection,’ says Wilson, ‘and to enjoy the walk around it. We also want to give them a reason to come and visit again.’
Jupiter Artland, Bonnington House, near Edinburgh. Open Fri-Sun 10am-4pm until Fri 31 Jul; Thu-Sun 10am-4pm until Mon 31 Aug.