Walking through the woods, I could feel the chilly air trying to embrace me. Though still clearly in the early stages of her work, Mother Nature has been busy preparing her annual celebration of autumnal colours and cooler temperatures. There is something fresh and rejuvenating about the season. Feelings of anticipation and renewed energy surround me. Visiting Jupiter Artland helped me to further connect to those feelings and much more. Therefore, this week I want to share a bit about our experience visiting this lovely location, and hope to inspire others to set out on their own ‘explore and discover’ mission.
At this point you are probably wondering where exactly is Jupiter Artland and what is it? Located on the outskirts of Edinburgh, in the small village of Wilkieston, Jupiter Artland is a sculpture park and art gallery. Privately owned, the park is situated on 80 acres and was created by owners, Robert and Nicky Wilson who opened it to the public in 2009.
There are many wonderful works of art situated throughout Jupiter Artland, but this post will cover some of my favourites. With this article, we want to focus on the art visually, so please enjoy our photos and join me as we stroll around Jupiter Artland.
I grew up playing in the woods and forests- spending hours every day exploring and creating my own adventures. Therefore, walking through the wooded areas at Jupiter Artland was magical and filled me with nostalgia for the forests of my youth. With those feelings alive and well within me, I found the sculptures, Weeping Girls, by Laura Ford particularly fascinating and perhaps even a bit personal. There are several ‘girls’ situated throughout the area forming a haunting presence.
Not too far from the girls, you come across The Stone House created with locally quarried stone by Andy Goldsworthy. According to the artist, he "wanted to make a work that acts as a geological window into the landscape...Houses are usually places of security, shelter and comfort for people. There is something unnerving about entering a building in which nature is the occupant".
The Temple of Apollo by Ian Hamilton Finlay holds court among the trees in quite a regal manner. It has an inscription by the French philosopher and revolutionary, L.A. St-Juste (a friend of Robespierre) that reads, “Consecutive upon Apollo a titanic revolt in his heart”.
Moving along through the woods we eventually came across Over Here by Shane Waltener. We were fortunate that the sun was in particularly fine form on the morning of our visit and brought this fabulous work of art to life. It’s a web with a 400cm diameter that was knitted using a technique inspired by Shetland lace.
Waltener stated that, “this knitted web gives the viewer an opportunity to reflect on his/her position within the wooded area, the wood itself, and the surrounding landscape…The web is also a trap, its open lacy structure catching, filtering and refracting light, colours and sounds”.
There are some incredible surprises found throughout Jupiter Artland. One of them is the installation, The Light Pours Out of Me by Anya Gallaccio. It is an ‘underground chamber of amethyst surrounded by obsidian in is natural state, protected by gold barbed wire’.
Another surprise was The Rose Walk by Pablo Bronstein. Wooden Gothic and Chinese porticos face each other alongside a courtyard, lined by beds of roses. It was quite a picturesque site, and an interesting juxtaposition between the porticos.
On the surface, In Memory by Nathan Coley appears to be a typical family graveyard that are often found on large country estates. However, it is an art installation where the artist “asks us to think about how we mark lives that are passed”.
As we continue along with our exploration of the woods, we eventually come upon sculptures that seem to have come straight out of a Star Wars movie (at least that is one of the first things that came to my mind). Quarry by Phyllida Barlow are made up of two towering cement and steel columns.
One of the last places I would like to highlight are the Cells of Life by Charles Jencks. This installation consists of ‘eight landforms and a connecting causeway surround four lakes and a flat parterre for sculpture exhibits. 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”. The circular landforms and surrounding landscape are like nothing I’ve ever seen before and were absolutely stunning. Depending on where you stood, you were afforded varying views of the land, water, and sky. Truly a place to help you visually engage with your environment in a special way. Hopefully the pictures in the slideshow below can help to give you a sense of what can be experienced.
Navigating through the varying landscape and art installments that inhabit Jupiter Artland, it is obvious that the Wilsons are quite fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. However, as I’ve said before, we- the public- are also lucky that we can access such places. Yes, there is an entrance fee, but Nicky Wilson explains that “every penny goes to this educational endeavour”. Therefore, we are happy to support such ventures and appreciate that they are creating opportunities to learn, enjoy, and engage. Everyone has a different experience with the land and art- that is what is fascinating about it. For me, it helped to nourish my soul and hopefully gave me a bit more positive energy to get through these dark times we are all trying to navigate.
Related to that, we have been promoting on our various social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) that we all need to take care of ourselves right now. Specifically, making sure to attend to our mental health is important. One positive way that we deal with the high levels of stress and negativity is getting outside, spending time with family (including our canine members- Finn and Sawyer) and enjoying all that Scotland has to offer. We try to help others by sharing our travels through social media and our blog articles.
With travel currently (and understandably) restricted, we encourage those who are in Scotland and the rest of the UK, to consider a visit to Jupiter Artland. It is a fantastic way to celebrate the beauty of the land and the art that interacts with it in unique and fun ways. At the same time, you get the benefit of exercise, fresh air, and taking some time away from the stressful world that surrounds us.
Normally, Jupiter Artland closes around the end of September. However, I am pleased to say that they have decided to extend their season and will be open from the 5th to the 25th of October. In fact, they have announced a fantastic family-friendly opportunity- a daily Pumpkin Hunt. Please note, as of this writing, booking your visit is essential. Be sure to check out the Jupiter Artland website for the most up to date information and how to plan your visit. And when travel reopens for the rest of the world and you come to Edinburgh, Scotland- we highly recommend a visit to Jupiter Artland. It is a wonderful way to experience Scottish nature and art in a distinctive way.
When you are in the area, don’t forget to also check out our Edinburgh walking tours. Our Golden Retriever tour guide, Sawyer, and our human tour guide, Sami, love to show visitors around. It is a chance to get some fresh air (our walking tours are completely outside) and learn a little history of Edinburgh, while enjoying the magnificent sites sprinkled throughout our beautiful capital city.
Until next time- Explore & Discover!