Gather Magazine

5 of the best parks and gardens to see outdoor art in the UK

Go for a walk among stunning sculptures, statues and artworks in beautiful surroundings this summer.

The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Where: Ockley, Surrey

With around 200 exhibits, largely by British artists, this space is renowned for its delicate glassworks set in the wild, such as the exquisite work by Neil Wilkin, Dew Drops, and the brightly hued handblown ‘fungi’ made by Helen Twigge-Molecey. The garden also attracts international artists, such as Ronald van der Meijs, who hails from Holland and created one of the most striking installations, Sound Architecture 5. Inspired by the sound of something falling on his bicycle bell when he leaned it against a tree, the sprawling, undulating sculpture features 5,000 stainless steel bicycle bells that reflect the dappled light coming through the trees and, in a strong breeze, random ‘dings’ of the bells can be heard. After curating the garden for 40 years, the late Hannah Peschar handed over the reins to Victoria Leedham, who continues to cultivate the space. Visitors can buy specific works and also commission unique pieces. Entry from £10.

Jupiter Artland

Where: Bonnington House Steadings, Near Wilkieston, Edinburgh

Founded in 2009 by philanthropist art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson, Jupiter Artland is an award-winning contemporary sculpture garden located a stone’s throw from Edinburgh. Set over 40 square metres of meadow, woodland and indoor galleries, you can see more than 30 site-specific sculptures from well-known artists including Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley. Quarry by Phyllida Barlow (above), an extraordinary installation made from concrete and steel, mimics the oak and beech trees that carpet the estate, and the five gallery spaces have featured exhibitions by Tracey Emin and up-and-coming British artists. This year, Laura Aldrige will unveil Lawnmower, which uses textiles, ceramics, glass and found objects to create ‘a push and pull between dualities… whereby the tension lies in the viewer’s very own experience’. Entry tickets from £12, with advance booking savings.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Where: West Bretton, Wakefield

Voted Yorkshire Attraction of the Year 2023, this park, set within two square kilometres of immaculately manicured 18th-century landscape, has something for everyone. The collection of around 100 installations includes four major pieces by Damien Hirst, who deliberately makes the materials he uses look different than they are. For example, The Virgin Mother, a giant pregnant woman with part of her skin rolled back to expose the baby in her womb, is bronze painted to look plastic – deliberately toying with the notion that bronze is synonymous with ‘high statues’ in the art world. In the lower park, you’ll find Chinese artist and activist Ai Wei Wei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (above). Cast in bronze and standing three metres high, the symbols of the Chinese zodiac, including the head of a rooster, are works of art in their own right. But the installation’s context – it has been on a worldwide tour through Europe, Asia and the US – highlights the freedom and liberty not available to so many people. Entry tickets from £9.50, under 18s free, concession prices available.

Sculpture in the Park

Where: Compton Verney, Warwickshire

Newly opened in March 2024, Sculpture in the Park will run until May 2027. Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park near Stratford-Upon-Avon is already home to a celebrated art collection and now features works from eight sculptors, spread out across 50 square metres of Capability Brown landscaped parkland. These include French-Canadian artist Louise Bourgeois, best known for her monumental and arresting spider sculptures (right) that have appeared in spaces worldwide, and the late Turner Prize-nominated British conceptual artist Helen Chadwick, whose work explored ideas of gender and the body. Entry tickets from £18, under 18s free.

Grizedale Sculpture Park

Where: Lake District, Cumbria

Established in 1977 as the UK’s first forest for sculpture, Grizedale is set across 25 square kilometres of beautiful natural woodland near Coniston Water. There are eight main walking trails and seven cycling trails to discover the 40-plus installations hidden deep in the woods, which are managed by Forestry England. Among the collection is 17 Degrees South by Linda Watson. This circular wooden sculpture frames the ever-changing landscape, as does Only Breath by Steve Anwar, which is also a circular construction, but made from metal. Also worth searching out is Some Fern by Kerry Morrison, a beautifully intricate giant fern leaf carved from wood and perched atop a rocky outcrop.

Words: Rachel Roberts