As a lover of the outdoors, I sometimes resent having to spend my leisure time indoors to visit art galleries and exhibitions. And this is particularly the case when cooped up in the office all week during our short summer months. But what if the art world could be teleported outside? This is the premise of the Sculpture Park in Churt, near Farnham, which boasts more than 600 sculptures in ten acres of enchanting gardens.
A hidden gem in leafy Surrey, I first encountered the Sculpture Park when I was invited here to a friend’s wedding reception. The park specialises in the sale of 20th century modern and contemporary sculpture for gardener and interior designers, collectors and investors and includes the work of more than three hundred leading sculptors. Such is the park’s standing in the art world that ten of their sculptures were chosen to be exhibited at the 2012 Olympic Games in Stratford.
Aptly described as “the most atmospheric sculpture park in Britain, the 800 sculptures are scattered around woodland trails, an arboretum and wildlife inhabited water gardens. Croaking frogs and droning bees provide a relaxing soundtrack as you amble along the park’s shady pathways. Lulled into a tranquil state by the park’s rural charm, I stop dead in my tracks at the sight of two cavorting skeletons – there is in fact quite a tribe of them enjoying a new lease of life in the park.
The breadth and diversity of the sculptures is overwhelming with new discoveries popping up around every corner. You never quite know what’s coming next – from angels spreading their wings to a Louise Bourgeois-inspired giant spider skulking through the undergrowth, the park constantly shocks and delights in equal measure. But the creepiest exhibit for me is this giant head peering down from the lofty branches above.
Household detritus is the subject of this fascinating piece with an eco-warrior wearily trudging his way through mountains of old television sets, toilet seats and plastic containers. A salutary message to our increasingly plastic world.
Proving a major hit with families, the larger-than-life wooden dinosaurs bring more than a hint of Jurassic Park to rural Surrey. Gnashing teeth and beady eyes monitor my every move as I get up close and personal in a close encounter with this giant T-Rex.
The Sculpture Park has no on-site café facilities but provides the perfect picnic spot with the addition of two raised wooden huts providing shelter for up to six people should the heavens open. Just watch out for the odd stray spider or marauding T-Rex!
The Churt Sculpture Park is open all year – Monday – Sunday 10.00-5.00pm.
For more information, visit: www.thesculpturepark.com