Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver has one of the top-ranked botanical gardens in the US – as our flight wasn’t until the evening, we were able to spend several happy hours there on the day we went home from last summer’s road trip.

My botanical knowledge is rudimentary to say the least, so I haven’t attempted to caption any of the photos in the next two galleries. Click on anything you like the look of to enlarge or start a slide-show.

Possibly my favourite part was the Monet Pool: water lilies galore.

While we were there, the gardens were hosting Stories in Sculpture – 13 pieces from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. If you are observant, you will count 14 sculptures below – the gardens have their own collection and I’ve included one example from it (Dale Chihuly’s Colorado, the first image). If you click on this gallery you’ll find it is, unlike the others, labelled – the sculptor as the title, and the name of the piece in the caption.

There is a bistro in the gardens, which we didn’t try, and a café which we visited for morning coffee and lunch, both good, so you could easily spend all day in there. We had a short time left before we needed to leave for the airport and popped into the neighbouring Cheesman Park.

Then we had to go home after three wonderful weeks touring Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. My first post about it was published on September 29, 2016, so it has been seven months in the writing. I’ll need to speed up, because I certainly don’t want to do any less travelling!

Next – Budapest.

Perambulations in Perth

Perth
Perth
Somehow our usual autumn holiday downgraded itself in 2016 to a couple of nights in Perth in early December! I’m not complaining, Perth is a beautiful city and the weather, though cold, was wonderfully bright. We spent most of our day there, Sunday, following the River Tay Public Art Trail.

Sunbank House Hotel
Sunbank House Hotel
Our hotel (Sunbank House – highly recommended) was on the east bank of the river so we started there and followed the trail through a series of parks and gardens before crossing the river and returning along Tay Street. Here are some highlights.

East bank

This was my favourite part of the trail with the tall spire of St Matthew’s Church an ever-present landmark.

Perth Bridge

We crossed the river by the Perth Bridge which is equally attractive by day and night. It was built in 1766 and widened in 1869. On the other side are the Museum and Art Gallery and the Concert Hall – we didn’t go in this time, but enjoyed visits to both earlier in the year.

Returning to the river, some of the art serves a very practical purpose as flood gates.

We passed the war memorial and regimental monument and admired the beautiful houses on the side of the river we’d just come from.

Then we crossed under the bridge to walk up Tay Street.

West bank and city centre

On the section of Tay Street between Perth Bridge and Queen’s Bridge there are ten wall carvings and several other sculptures, of which my favourite is Shona Kinloch’s chubby eagle standing proudly atop its fish.

The trail now took us away from the river into the city centre – lunch! But also more to see. The Salutation Hotel is another historic landmark, dating from 1699.

St John Street has decorative lampposts and gratings – I’m not sure if they’re meant to remind me of Munch’s The Scream, but they do. Round the corner, Walter Scott’s Fair Maid of Perth sits forlornly on her bench.

Nearby, Nae Day Sae Dark is another literary sculpture, inspired by Perth poet William Soutar. The two figures represent happiness and misery. It wasn’t possible to get a picture of the full circle because a (tuneless) busker had plonked himself right in the way.

After lunch, we continued along the riverbank, passing another sculpture inspired by Soutar, Soutar’s Menagerie, until we reached the Fergusson Gallery. Housed in an old water tower, this is dedicated to the work of Scottish Colourist JD Fergusson (1874-1961). It’s not open on Sundays, but we’ve been before and it is well worth a visit. It also has information about Fergusson’s partner, the dancer Margaret Morris, and their life together.

Craigie walk

From the Fergusson Gallery we set off to follow another trail – there was life in the old legs yet – which focussed on the life of the aforementioned poet, William Soutar. We set off across South Inch (large grassy area) – Soutar was born in one of its bordering terraces.

We then walked uphill to areas Soutar would have played in as a child, passing Craigie Waterfall and climbing Craigie Knowes, a little patch of wilderness in suburbia. In Soutar’s day, the waterfall was surrounded by malt barns, a laundry and a flock mill. Now it’s all houses, though some of the windy roads probably had their origins as farm tracks. Higher still is Craigie Hill, where you can see John striding along below. This looks like the country, but to the left of the picture is a golf course and out of sight on the right traffic thunders along the motorway to Dundee.

Descending again, we passed 27 Wilson Street where Soutar lived in the last years of his life. Here he spent 13 years bedridden with an incurable arthritis of the spine, all the time writing his poetry and receiving a constant stream of friends, neighbours and literary admirers. He died of tuberculosis aged just 45.

Finally, we returned to South Inch and amused ourselves watching the birds on the frozen pond.

Linking to Jo’s Monday Walks where you’ll find her on trail in the Algarve and her friends – well they’re cyber-walking all over the globe.

The Chandelier of Lost Earrings

Installing the chandelier
Installing the chandelier

This striking sculpture by Lauren Sagar and Sharon Campbell is made from over 3,000 single earrings donated by owners who have lost the other half of the pair. The women who contributed items to the project also shared, via letters, the stories attached to them and these have become part of the artwork’s legacy. It’s on display at Glasgow Women’s Library until the end of the year. I love it!

Do you end up with a collection of lost earrings, and what do you do with them if so? I know I do – but never enough to create my own sculpture. I have discovered, however, that some charities collect odd earrings and pieces of broken jewellery and can make money recycling them. If you’re in the UK, here are two:

Alzheimer’s Society

Friends of the Earth

Right – I’m off to have a rummage in my jewellery box!

Jupiter Artland revisited

Life Mounds by Charles Jencks
Life Mounds by Charles Jencks
Two years ago, we visited the sculpture park Jupiter Artland for the first time, and a revisit was beginning to feel overdue as we knew some of the exhibits had changed. When we were there in May, the park was celebrating its nomination as a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year – since then the prize has gone to the V&A in London, but there’s obviously no disgrace in losing to that sort of competition.

Bonnington House

I’ll try not to reproduce too much of what I wrote in my original post in 2014, but if you missed that you might want to check it out too. One major change was at Bonnington House, the owners’ home, which had a new wing. The original house is Jacobean and the ballroom extension is seamless.

You approach the ballroom through a pretty garden with doocot (dovecot) and a view of Nathan Coley’s sculpture You imagine what you desire.

Inside, prepare to be stunned by the ceiling – a regular design with added motifs suggested by the children of the house. Here, a skull peeps through the foliage. The baskets are a temporary exhibition by Ditte Gantriis.

Gala Hill Loop

A path winds round Gala Hill and Forest. Here are some of the highlights.

A Forest by Jim Lambie. Can you spot us?
A Forest by Jim Lambie. Can you spot us?

Firmament by Anthony Gormley
Firmament by Anthony Gormley

Over Here by Shane Waltener
Over Here by Shane Waltener
I devoted substantial galleries to Laura Ford’s Weeping Girls and Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Xth Muse and Temple of Apollo in my first post about Jupiter Artland, so head over there if you want to see more.

Piss Flowers

Yes, really! This temporary exhibition by Helen Chadwick consists of casts of the interior spaces left in the snow by warm urine. According to the guide, this typifies Chadwick’s work – “aesthetic beauty created out of an alliance of unconventional, often vile, materials”. What do you think?

The lawn where the Piss Flowers are arranged is very close to the café area. I’m quite glad we had enjoyed our delicious falafel salads before visiting them. The café has indoor and outdoor seating areas – the caravan provides drinks and there is a kitchen behind it, so it’s not as rudimentary as it might look.

After lunch, we explored the other side of the park. Here are more highlights.

Orchard and meadow

New in the orchard are these ladders – A Variety of Cultures by Alec Finlay. Placed near the young trees, they indicate the extent their pruned canopies will eventually fill. In the background, you can see Mark Quinn’s Love Bomb, of which more later. Crossing the wildflower meadow brings you to Ian Hamilton Finlay’s five Beehives, very topical at the moment, inscribed BEES; they lightly skim; and gently sip; the dimply river’s brim; BOATS. Nearby is Cornelia Parker’s Nocturne (a Moon Landing). Fireworks at the park’s opening in 2009 scattered fragments of moon rock.

Duck pond

The boathouse on the duck pond contains bottles of water (not terribly photogenic) from one hundred British rivers which are listed on panels on the outside wall. I can see the Clyde and the Tyne, two significant rivers for me. Sara Barker’s installation Separation in the evening (a celestial blossom before the yellow house) is new since our last visit.

Life Mounds

We enjoyed Charles Jencks’ Life Mounds better last time because it was quieter and you could take the paths to the top to appreciate an overall view and the summit inscriptions (once again, see previous post). However, it’s obviously a great place for families to hang out and have fun – even if most were not adhering to the “no running, climbing or rolling on mounds” rule, and damaging tracks were beginning to appear. You can probably sense me rolling my eyes and tutting, and are muttering “killjoy” under your breath!

Love Bomb

Marc Quinn’s Love Bomb, which sneaked into an earlier shot, is a 12-metre tall orchid (the design has been laser-printed onto vinyl and adheres to a stainless steel structure) described as “at once monstrous and seductively beautiful, demonstrating the ways in which human desires are now shaping the natural world”. I love its colours.

The animals

Finally, before we left we stopped at the animals’ field – cute donkeys, alpacas and sheep.

At £8.50 for adult entrance, Jupiter Artland is a great-value day out. This was meant to be a quick highlights post, but I’ve run on longer than I meant to – there are just so many interesting sculptures in the park, and there are more I haven’t shown you. Do you have a favourite?

Cornish Chronicles: sculpture gardens

St Ives became a centre for the arts in the 1920s and 30s when influential painters and sculptors moved in. Barbara Hepworth, one of the leading abstract sculptors of the 20th century, had a studio there which, following her death in a fire in 1975, has been preserved as a museum. The garden contains some of her most famous sculptures:

Just outside Penzance is Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, which opened in 2012. If the Hepworth is more sculpture than garden, this is more garden than sculpture, but no less beautiful for that. It also boasts a very fine café (the Lime Tree) and hosts activities and events. We were there at least two hours, and spent most time at James Turrell’s Tewlwolow Kernow (Twilight in Cornwall), a domed chamber from which you can observe the sky.

There was plenty more art to see:

Until the 13th century, this land was owned by the monks of St Michael’s Mount which you can see out in the bay from the top end of the gardens. There’ll be more about that in my next post. And, of course, the sub-tropical plants themselves were lovely:

So, two very different sculpture gardens, but both well worth a visit. And this has been my 200th post on this blog!

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.

Southern Vermont

After a few days in Boston, we headed from the hustle and bustle of the city to the rather more peaceful Vermont. This was a new state to add to my tally – although I’ve been to New England before, it was to the states south of Boston. I won’t give up till I’ve visited them all!

We planned two stops, Manchester in the South and Burlington in the North. It’s really strange driving around all these places with British names which are nothing like the originals at home (then suddenly, just to confuse you, a road sign to somewhere called Peru appears).The Inn at Manchester, where we spent three nights, was both beautiful and comfortable:

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Just on the edge of Manchester is Hildene, summer home of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, which was the highlight of our visit to this area. It’s now owned by the Friends of Hildene who do a wonderful job of looking after it. It’s one of the best presentations of a historic home that I’ve seen – I really did feel that the family had just popped out and would be back any minute. Pictures inside weren’t allowed – but just look at the gardens! Who could tire of these views?

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Equinox Mountain is just outside Manchester. From its 3848 ft summit, there are panoramic views across four states – but, ok I confess, you can drive up it:

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However, we did the short hike to Lookout Rock at the top, so we weren’t totally lazy. We also spent some time in the visitor centre which is, unusually, owned by the Carthusian Order who have a monastery at the base of the mountain.

A few miles south of Manchester is Bennington. Passing through North Bennington, we found their annual outdoor sculpture show was on. The old Railroad Station (now the town offices) was festooned with strange hangings and a man was still waiting for his train.

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Across the street were more sculptures and a shack which had been seriously yarn bombed. I love the imagination that goes into these things!

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Further on, in Old Bennington, we visited the monument to the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington (1777) – the British lost but we liked the monument anyway.

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From Bennington, we looped back to Manchester via Jamaica State Park – another unexpected name – where we did a six-mile hike up to Hamilton Falls and back. We also drove through our first covered bridge – so they aren’t just something from Bridges of Madison County then!

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Next stop – Burlington.