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A Family Holiday in Scotland – Part 7 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The last day of our family holiday, where we spent a week in the Scottish Borders, was spent part way during our journey home at The Yorkshire Sculture Park. This is a favourite place for our family so it was great to all be there together. There are always top quality gallery shows and outdoor exhibitions as well as the permanent collection of outside sculpture all dispayed in beautiful parkland.

Before going out to the underground gallery to look at the work of Guiseppe Penone, we had a quick look at exhibitions inside which we all felt were rather strange except  for Arabella who enjoyed the animals. She loves all animals! See what you think of these.


We went out into the unnaturally cool, wet July morning across the gravel display area into the main gallery. This building is so good at displaying sculpture and is fascinating in its own right. The right hand photo of the three below shows part of the first piece we spotted as we entered the gallery building.


In the main gallery spaces we were enthralled by Guiseppe Penone’s exhibition “A Tree in the Wood”, each piece holding our attention. The centre piece was a tree carved to follow the natural contours and get into its soul. It was a beautiful piece! The tree was so long that the sculptural piece went through two galleries passing through from one to another.


This sculptural piece was one of the most beautiful pieces Jude and I could ever remember experiencing, as the sculptor successfully discovered and enhanced the textures, shapes contours and even the soul of the tree when it was still living. Now this tree will live on for ever, unaffected by storms, freezing conditions and long winters.

But there were plenty of other examples of his tree and wood sculptures here to enjoy plus a few 2D pieces.


After hours of being enthralled by “A Tree in the Wood” we eventually moved outside to a very wet parkland. Arabella however who loves puddles almost above all else soon spotted one result of the rain. To enjoy this you will have to await my next post.




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Sculpture at RHS Rosemoor Garden

We love seeing sculpture outdoors whether in wild landscapes such as the “Sheep Enclosures” by Andy Goldsworthy, on the shore such as Anthony Gormley’s “Another Place” or in gardens. When we visited the RHS gardens at Rosemoor in Devon we spent two days exploring the gardens as there was the added interest of an exhibition of sculpture. This first of three posts from Rosemoor will concern those sculptural pieces.

I hope you enjoy my photos of a selection of those I particularly liked.

Birds of all sorts always make good subjects for sculptures both meant for indoors or out but I think they look best in the garden setting.

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Naturally plants work well as subjects for garden works of art too, in fact maybe the most natural subject of all.

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The beauty of simple pot shapes appear enhanced by the beauty of the garden.

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Sometimes the simplest of forms in sculptural form can bring the structure of plants and parts of plants to mind. Mother Nature herself often creates her own simple sculptural forms.

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An element of fun in any garden is sculptural seating. Those that work as somewhere to rest your weary legs are even more welcome in a garden of several acres.

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This most appealing of benches attracted everyone who spotted it – it demanded a closer look. When we looked at it close up we found that its two ends were both owls, one seated and one coming in to land.

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The human form has throughout history provided inspiration to sculpture.

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This beautiful trio of figures created from metal, entitled “The Three Graces”, stood within a circle of box hedging surrounding box spheres.

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To complete my selection of sculptural pieces here are three pieces displaying simplicity and beauty. This wonderful collection made our wanderings around the gardens at Rosemoor even more worthwhile.

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Getting Creative in the Woodlands

In my last post we looked at what we discovered was going on in the old Walled Garden at Attinham Park and I finished just as we left the walled garden behind and began wandering around the woodlands.

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So here is the second part of our Attingham Park  autumn adventure.

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When taking a wander along the woodland trails at our local National Trust property, Attingham Park, we were amazed to come across this little art installation close to the soft surfaced woodchip path. Woodlands are like the seashore as they often seem to bring out creativity in people, perhaps even a return to making things which was last enjoyed in childhood. At the sea people often pile up pebbles to make simple sculptures, collect together mixed objects from the surf line and carefully put them together. This simple little piece sits beautifully in its surroundings and stopped many people walking by to have a closer look. No-one touched it, but simply looked, smiled, made a comment to their companions and walked on. It is a beautiful piece of sculpture, made anonymously and left for others to enjoy.

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We wandered on into the woods along winding paths beneath towering trees above while at our feet the orange, yellows and reds of fallen leaves. Fallen leaves always bring the children out in Jude and I and we kicked our feet through them, enjoying the sounds and woody aromas.

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The woodsmen who had been working on autumnal maintenance work left behind them little blocks and wedges of wood. Following on from the piece of found object sculpture we discovered and enjoyed earlier we both started to follow their initiative and got creative. The stumps left behind gave us ready-made plinths to work on.

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We collected bits and pieces of wood left by the woodsman or by Mother Nature and made various compositions on top of our wooden stump plinths. We couldn’t stop smiling as we played with the wood and loved the wonderful sweet aroma of fresh cut wood and leafmould. An outdoor studio! What a treat!

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As we completed each set we wandered on. Looking back through the trees we spotted other walkers stopping and taking photos of what we had left for them to enjoy, just as we had when we found that piece close to the walled garden.

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Moving further into the woodland the woodsmen had left areas cleared for coppicing, leaving multi-stemmed trees cut low to encourage regrowth. They reminded me of sculpture by Barbara Hepworth which are exhibited among trees at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

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I found slithers, slices and wedges of freshly cut wood and placed them among the stumps.

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Logs had been piled up to create habitats for wildlife winding wooden walls through the trees. The aroma here was of rotting wood, dampness and fungi.

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A huge old tree trunk felled years ago and left to rot providing shelter, food and homes for wildlife, had been sculpted by the weather, rain, wind, ice and snow, worked upon by insects, invertebrates and fungi to present us with a beautiful softly carved piece of Mother Nature’s sculpture.

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We loved finding this nest box beautifully and thoughtfully positioned on top of a rotting tree stump. We shall watch this in the spring to see if any birds like it as much as we did.

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As we left the woodland we moved into the deer park where trees were much further apart separated by tracts of bright green grass. Here fallen branches, trunks and brash had been left for children to make dens from. Another form of sculpture created by youngsters using wood from the surrounding trees. The dens had their own beauty and naivety. Each time we visit Attingham these dens change, new ones appear, the oldest begin to fall apart and some just seem to get bigger and bigger. Well done to the National Trust for encouraging such creativity for the visiting youngsters and for affording them the opportunity to get in touch with nature.


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I hope you have enjoyed sharing our spell of creativity in the woodlands at Attingham Park. When we next visit it will be interesting to see if any of our pieces remain intact after the winter storms and to discover how the children’s dens have been transformed by nature or by other children.

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Walking the Shrewsbury Battlefield – Part 2

Back at the site of the Battle of Shrewsbury we return to look more closely at the church and the sculptural tree. First though it might be a good idea to say a little about the battle itself. The Battle of Shrewsbury took place in 1403 just north of the town. Here two armies met in what was to be a ferocious and bloody battle. The rebel army of Sir Henry Percy, locally known as Harry Hotspur, met the Royal army of Henry IV on the land of the medieval Manor of Albright Hussey. There is now no sign of the village but there is a building known as the Albright Hussey which was built over a century after the battle in 1524. So many lives were lost during the battle that a memorial chapel was built in 1406 in their memory.

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This church is now known as St Mary Magdalene’s Church. Below is my photographic record of our visit to the church. We loved the detailing around the door knocker with its design based on a crown, and all the different gargoyles around the top of the building from which would originally have spouted rainwater.

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Inside the church we soon found its famous stained glass windows, but we were also drawn to the reed lamp holders and the oak carved figures on the ends of the pews.

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The ancient lych gate is looking worse for wear but its intricate carved detailing is still here to be enjoyed and appreciated, but I wonder for how much longer.

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Over 5000 men died in this battle and their remains lie in an unmarked mass grave below the churchyard. Some of the headstones found in the churchyard here are very simple and others show very stylised carving.

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When we finished looking around the church and its surroundings we made our way back along the footpaths around the site of the Battle Field. Half way back we spotted a pool in the middle of a field which still showed signs of medieval ridge and furrow farming patterns. Close to the hedge we saw a wonderfully sculptural old tree. The tree must have fallen years ago and has now lost its bark so was smooth in texture. This is Mother Nature at her most creative. Please enjoy looking at my photos of this natural piece of sculpture.


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Woodland – Mother Nature as Artist, Sculptor, and Scribe.

A winter wander around our local woodland patch within the grounds of the National Trust’s Attingham Park got off to a strange start. Expecting the cold weather to have restricted visitors to a few hardy souls, we arrived to see the main car park full, all overflow parking fields full and lots of extra parking also filling up rapidly.

We had arrived just after the start of their first Christmas related event – The Frost Fair. Bad planning! However the woodlands were quiet, the only sounds following us around were the songs of small and squeaky birds, Coal Tits, Treecreepers and Goldcrests.


The event we searched out was the art exhibition of the works of Mother Nature. She was her usual brilliant imaginative self.

Her woodcarving looked freshly made and full of texture and colour.


This piece looks to be based on the shapes of a crab’s claw.



Drawings on the cut trunks of a diseased Ash tree reminded me of cave paintings.





This triangular land art installation shows Mother Nature working in a more geometric way.


As the woodland path took us deeper in amongst the trees we appreciated the quietness of our footfalls, the quietness of the soft deep pine needle duvet. When it is quiet the subtleties of bird songs and calls are more easily enjoyed. We stood feet away from a Goldcrest feeding on insects he had searched out from the conifer needles with thin probing beak. He suddenly fell to the floor as if dead, or mimicking the gentleness of a falling leaf. He dropped into the fern and bramble undergrowth and stayed there out of sight. Was he feigning death to fool a predator or pretending to be a falling leaf with the same purpose in mind? As we stood silently in awe of what we had witnessed he reappeared vertically up into the branch he had fallen out of. One of those magical moments that two observers of the natural world will never forget! Any idea what he may have been up to?




Nature playing with light fascinated us as the sun dropped lower in the thin blue sky lighting up the understory  with golds and oranges.






Water, be it a stream, ditch, river or pool, affords nature the chance of playing with mirrors to create illusions and mysteries.




On the land shadows are drawn long and dark. The long tall tree shadow stretches out across the pastureland. My own shadow tried to get in the picture until I managed to persuade it to move into the shadow of one of the tree trunks.


The shadow of the precariously leaning seat crossed our path as we approached the gap in the tall wall that would take us into the productive gardens.


The climbing, curling tendrils of this vine glow pink and red in the sunlight, forming a natural frame for the filigree skeletons of trees.



We greatly enjoyed our visit to the open air gallery.


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Poppy Seedhead Skeleton

Sometimes the smallest and simplest of discoveries in the garden can blow you away. Pulling up a clump of small dandelion leaves to give to the chicks as a treat, I spied this seedhead of an oriental poppy. Nature had turned it into a skeletal sculpture. Rotting had revealed little windows through which patterns emerged.

It is hard to believe that these little capsules were but a few months ago hidden deep inside the bright orange over-sized blooms. Looking past this orange glare into the poppy’s secret centre, we could see a black core dusted with purple. Already the shape of the green seed head was evident. Once the floppy orange silk of the petals drooped lifelessly they fell to feed the soil beneath. Now the gaunt rigid stems were topped with the green seed heads which would dry to tinder in the following summer months. When dried, the capsules rattling with seeds, seeds by the million, turned pale biscuit. The rotting rains of autumn softened the stems which the winds then felled. The wetness of the ground rotted the capsule’s flesh away leaving these wonderful skeletal shapes.