Issue Number: 95
Emma Crichton-Miller ventures into the great outdoors in search of the best sculpture displays this summer
In 1973, Anthony Caro was invited to be artist in residence at York University, Toronto. Caro was already famous for bringing sculpture down off its plinth: ‘It was no longer an object to put on a mantelpiece and forget about, or to be seen from a distance on a hill top. It was a question of how it could be far more immediate.’
Anthony Caro RA, Skimmer Flat, 1974 Photo New Art Centre, Roche Court
The residency inspired a year of intense activity, during which Caro collaborated with the local steelworks to produce 35 massive constructions. these Flats (pictured) of welded and bolted sheet steel were of a weight and scale that Caro had never achieved before, dwarfing the viewer.
This summer, twelve of the series, much of which has never been seen before in this country, will be scattered throughout the verdant landscape at Roche Court, a country house-turned sculpture park outside Salisbury.
In the gallery, with its glass wall facing the garden, Caro’s wife, Sheila Girling, exhibits a series of paintings in celebration of their shared creative life. Her paintings of weathered architectural surfaces and of landscape interact with both the view outside and Caro’s own corroded structures.
Although Caro, now an RA, has argued, ‘It is very difficult to put up sculpture outdoors and it seldom looks good. It cannot compete in size or scale with a tree’, the Roche Court show is one of several this summer to indulge our growing love affair with contemporary sculpture in the landscape. Yorkshire sculpture Park is a pioneer of this concept, encouraging audiences to engage with the sweep of its hillside site through monumental works.
This summer, it celebrates 30 years with a retrospective of the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. Together with several new commissions, this survey explores how intimately Goldsworthy engages not just with nature but also with the social history that shapes it.
The Jerwood Sculpture Park is based in over 400 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown-designed parkland and Victorian formal gardens at Ragley Hall, in Warwickshire. on a two-mile trail, visitors encounter striking pieces by Antony Gormley RA and Elisabeth Frink alongside new works by younger sculptors. Last year’s winner of the Jerwood sculpture Prize, Fernando Casasempre, unveils his piece Under the Forest. This ceramic sculpture, made of colossal, tree-trunk forms, melts into existing vegetation.
Beyond these well-known parks, opportunities abound to combine a love of large-scale sculpture with a delight in the environment: Newby hall, in Ripon, Yorkshire, displays more than 50 contemporary sculptures; Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, explores the theme of the labyrinth in its annual contemporary show; and Cass Sculpture Foundation, at Goodwood, in Sussex, installs fifteen new works in its beautiful 26-acre grounds.
Even Jesus College, Cambridge, contradicts its cloistered image with ‘Sculpture in the Close’, its tenth biennial show of British sculpture, where new pieces by Bill Woodrow RA, Marc Quinn and Cerith Wyn Evans join the permanent collection, featuring sculpture by Geoffrey Clarke RA on the hallowed lawns.
Anthony Caro and Sheila Girling, New Art Centre, Roche Court, Wiltshire (01980 862244), 12 May–16 Sep;
Andy Goldsworthy, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (01924 832631), until 6 Jan;
Jerwood Sculpture Park, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire (020 7388 6287);
Newby Hall Sculpture Park, Yorkshire (0845 450 4068), 1 June –30 Sep;
Reconstruction #2, Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire (01242 602308), until 31 Oct;
Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood, Sussex (01243 538449);
Sculpture in the Close, Jesus College, Cambridge (01223 339339), 24 June–31 July