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 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…
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.
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.