I love a sculpture garden. Barbara Hepworth’s garden in St. Ives is a particularly good one, as was a playful temporary one in the Loire Valley that I chanced on a few years ago. There are several scattered across the UK, mostly run by private foundations, operating over the summer with rotating works by various artists.
Sculpture on the Lakes is a half hour drive northwest of Poole, set well off the track along Dorset’s Pallington Lakes. It’s a quiet setting surrounded by cornfields and cow pastures, laced with electric transmission lines that contrast with the flowering bushes. Admission is £10 and includes the gallery and gardens; it takes an hour or so to stroll and pause, stroll and pause among the works.
I thought that it was a bit of a monoculture: large sleek metal-works depicting birds and sprites, each on a grassy pad set monumentally apart from the others. They vary from whimsical to pretentious, some set into descriptive text while others benefit from walk-around contemplation. The best were set onto the ponds, where reflections of the sky and sculpture mingled on the surface.
I liked the huge heads against the Dorset sky, the green sprite set down into the stream, and a stabile above the still waters at the center of the park.
‘lots of helpful volunteers and an ice cream hut for a hot day – ‘worth a stop for a contemplative break along the drive between Bournemouth and Salisbury.