I’ve always been of the “I don’t know a lot about it, but I know what I like” school of art appreciation, and one of the things that I do like is sculpture.
More specifically, open air sculpture.
Fortunately, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to interesting outdoor art in this part of the world.
Not only is there the world famous Tate gallery in St Ives, Cornwall, housing the majority of the work by sculptor Barbara Hepworth but we have a host of other, lesser-known exhibitions.
The nearest to us, only fifteen minutes from home, tucked away in the woods just outside Barnstaple, is a hotel, restaurant, and sculpture garden, Broomhill Art Hotel.
Just some of the sculptors displaying art at Broomhill.
The hotel prides itself on top quality food, locally sourced, and if you go there for a meal – something I highly recommend – you will also get free entry to the indoor galleries and gardens.
Painting by John Hurford. Gallery café.
Some of the art in the grounds is on a huge scale, other pieces are hidden in the trees of the ten acre site.
Meanwhile, on an abandoned tennis court…
You can wander around the sprawling, wooded valley for hours, stopping in for a refreshing drink and a snack at the hotel bar, or relaxing on the benches among the trees. But whatever you choose to do there, one thing us for certain, you’ll get a surprise around every corner.
Another place we have visited more than once is Stone Lane gardens, also known as the Mythic Gardens, near Chagford on Dartmoor.
This is a truly magical 6 acre woodland, with water gardens, national collections of both Birch and Alder trees, and an extraordinary, ever-changing variety of sculptures, in every imaginable medium.
It is, in short, a photographer’s dream come true, with beautiful shots wherever you turn.
Even in the winter, when some of the current sculptures have been sold, and other exhibits are being replaced, the gardens are worth a visit, the ghostly white trunks of the Birch trees an artwork in their own right.
A quick mention too, for municipal art.
In Lynmouth, there is a life-size Predator, made of scrap metal…
…and then of course, in Ilfracombe, there’s Damien Hirst’s controversial – and, I think, deeply wonderful – Verity statue.
Looking out to sea, the rear view.
That controversial “flayed” side.
Guarding the harbour.
So, whether you want fine dining in light, airy galleries, or secret leafy glades with mysterious figures peering out of the ferns, there’s something to please every taste.
Sculpture, not just for dark, stuffy museums after all then…