Jupiter Artland

Bonnington House
Bonnington House

I’ve never been to anything quite like Jupiter Artland before. Robert and Nicky Wilson bought Bonnington House in West Lothian, a Jacobean manor house with an 100-acre estate, in 1999, and decided to turn it into a sculpture park. There are many famous names here – Antony Gormley, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Charles Jencks to name but three – and, mostly, the art works have been designed specifically for their location, thus they are unique. However, visitors are given a map and left to tour the sculptures freely with very few rules (don’t bathe in the water features in case the piranhas get you is my favourite.)

A few tips before showing you some sculptures:

  • You really need a good day – there’s very little shelter and the woodland paths can be quite muddy even when it’s not actually raining. And NB it has to be Thursday – Sunday.
  • You can pay in advance on the website. You don’t have to, but it’s 10% cheaper. (Non-discounted adult price is £8.50.)
  • You can download an iPhone app which will give you more information as you go round. It’s worth doing before you go.
  • You can get a bus from Edinburgh (35 minutes), but if you’re coming from anywhere else you really need a car.
  • You can stay there all day! There’s a lovely café and we timed it to perfection by arriving mid-morning to sample the coffee and scones. As the main path is more or less a figure of eight, we completed one loop just in time for lunch and finished off with tea after the second loop. You might have to fend off the peacock looking for crumbs though….

So here are a few of my favourite things:

The Steadings

The Steadings houses the ticket office, shop, a couple of small galleries and the café. The galleries are currently showing You imagine what you desire by Nathan Coley and A body of parts by Silvy Weatherall who creates art from the by-products of her husband’s meat and game business, found bones, skulls and road kill. Looks better than it sounds…

 Weeping Girls

Laura Ford’s Weeping girls are quite disturbing until you read her explanation: “A friend of mine told me a story about a fantastic tantrum his daughter had had where she was inconsolable whilst at the same time watching herself and the effect she was having in the mirror.” So sleekit wee girls rather than traumatised ghosts. I believe the imitative pose is obligatory – and, no, none of them have faces under all that hair.

Temple of Apollo and Xth Muse

These two sculptures are by the late Ian Hamilton Finlay whose Little Sparta is one of the influences for this park.

Life Mounds

If you’ve been to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh these will look familiar, because there is a Charles Jencks landform there too. I’m pretty sure these must be on everyone’s favourites list. Landforms, lakes and sculptures represent the cells of life, but are also a great place to climb, enjoy the view and just sunbathe. We had so many pictures of these, it’s hard to choose which ones to include.

The Light Pours Out of Me

Anya Gallaccio has created an underground (though open at the top) chamber of amethyst surrounded by obsidian and protected by gold barbed wire. It’s a crystal cave.

Best of the rest

The boat house on the pretty duck pond contains Rivers by Tania Kovats, a collection of bottles of water from 100 rivers around the British Isles. The signpost to Jupiter is by Peter Liversidge and the 12-metre tall orchid, or Love Bomb, is by Marc Quinn.

Jupiter Artland is a fabulous place and I can’t wait to go back – it will definitely join my list of places to take visitors.

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15 thoughts on “Jupiter Artland

  1. Lori L MacLaughlin June 10, 2014 / 03:56

    Such a beautiful estate! I really like the Life Mound photos. The Jupiter signpost is funny, and the “Love Bomb” is amazing! Two years ago we visited a sculpture park in New Jersey called the Grounds For Sculpture that had some of the most incredible sculptural works of art I’ve ever seen. The best one was a life-sized rendering of Renoir’s painting, “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” Definitely worth seeing if you’re ever in the Jersey area in the future.

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    • Anabel Marsh June 10, 2014 / 08:00

      When I read that it rang a bell – I checked with my husband and he has been to that park, so I must have seen pictures of it. He used to travel to New Jersey on business regularly. Definitely worth visiting he says too!

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  2. Birgit June 10, 2014 / 04:09

    The one girl looks like she is having a tantrum but it reminds me of “the Ring” which freaked me out. This looks like a really cool place to visit and see the beautiful works. The mounds remind me of the snake mound in the U.S. and other old sites. The cave looks really neat

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    • Anabel Marsh June 10, 2014 / 08:02

      Yes, I still think the girls are creepy despite the explanation about tantrums. It’s funny, this place has been open about 6 years but I only heard of it last year just as it was closing for the winter. I think I’ll be a regular visitor now.

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  3. Donna June 17, 2014 / 18:22

    This looks like such a wonderful place to visit. Your very lucky to have a husband who shares your love of both exploring new places and taking photos. My husband and I end up splitting up frequently on vacations.

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    • Anabel Marsh June 17, 2014 / 19:17

      Thanks, Donna. We do enjoy the same things – mostly – but have had to make a few adaptations over the years!

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  4. Silvia Writes June 20, 2014 / 00:28

    I have never been to Scotland, and while your pictures and descriptions give me so many reasons to book a flight, coming in here brings me a little bit closer in the meantime. So beautiful and the weeping girls’ story, interesting. Wow, a tantrum with so much hair in her face.
    Thank you, Anabel.

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  5. Silvy Weatherall June 25, 2014 / 19:43

    I read your blog with interest and was very happy that you said my show A body of Parts ‘looks better than it sounds’! Thank you. I am very glad you enjoyed your trip to Jupiter. It is a magical place and from an artist’s perspective it is a joy to show work there.

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    • Anabel Marsh June 25, 2014 / 20:10

      It certainly did – I’m a vegetarian and the description made me feel quite queasy!* However, it looked lovely once I got over the origins. Definitely a magical place, I just loved the quirkiness.

      *Actually, the chocolate room started me off. Couldn’t take the smell!

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  6. Becky B July 12, 2016 / 08:53

    Those weeping girls bit too creepy for me, but the Mound – oh my they do look glorious on your first visit. My inner child no longer wants to roll down the slopes, and I’d be tutting very loudly now if I had been with you on your second visit!

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    • Anabel Marsh July 12, 2016 / 12:42

      Maybe if there was no-one else there and if there was any damage you could say a big boy did it and ran away 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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