DSP is passionate about environmental art. It is central to our mission to support nature and art; wildlife and sculpture. Environmental art is often site-specific in its physical form and virtual in its commercial form – as photographs, video, words and performance.
Mamhead Park South, DSP’s home, has had environmentally minded sculpture for centuries, including its considerable collection of ancient stone pineapple sculptures that celebrate the exploration of far off lands. It was around 25 years ago that the private sculpture park was developed in the Capability Brown gardens. Most of the sculptures made here and collected were environmental in nature.
The environmental art movement emerged in the 1960s and early 1970s and primarily celebrates the artist’s connection with nature. Pioneers of the movement such as Nils-Udo and UK artist Andy Goldsworthy became famous for creating site-specific sculptures and installations from found natural materials, then documenting their works with photography. While earlier artists such as Udo celebrate the beauty of nature, many of today’s artists are using a wide range of media, techniques and styles to address social issues and the negative impact we as human beings are having on our planet.
Environmental art has its roots in arte povera and the minimalist art movements. The former offering up artists such as Giuseppe Penone who’s works in wood and bronze are masterful. Today environmental art has a number of strands including land art, eco art and conceptual art. Conceptual environmental art has contributed to taking conceptual art outdoors.
DSP has spent many years developing its physical site-specific aspects – largely environmental art installations in wood, clay, stone, bronze, steel, fleece, fiberglass and plastics. Most of the materials are found – some on site and some beyond. Artists such as Chris Speyer, Matt Dingle, Steve Carroll, Terry Howe, Robert Marshall, Brendon Murless, Colin Porter and Philip Letts dominate. Most recently, emerging environmental artist, Belle Cole, has been adding her elegant stainless steel Poppies.
As the artists and installations are maturing, the word is spreading more widely about what DSP and these artists are doing – partly because this is the only sculpture park in the world to be fully rewilded and to focus solely on environmental art. To support this we have started developing two online galleries. The RA Gallery showcases a number of DSP’s established artist’s works online – including a few select pieces that are made available. The Sheds gallery offers exhibitions online. Both are in their infancy but we are excited about where they might take us. As always, we thank the Letts Group for making this happen.
We have worked hard to develop a series of regional installations to complement our permanent collection. As a result we have developed an effective process for discovering, nurturing, curating and developing artists at DSP and beyond, with works that tackle climate issues and complement the landscape and environmental projects.
We are passionate about working with and supporting environmental artists. Having established the process with an initial group of artists we are working to nurture the next wave. This year we look forward to working with our more established artists to help mentor some new and emerging artists – in southwest England and more widely across the UK.
Environmental art has come a long way and is starting to take off. DSP has just begun. We hope you will support our artists and their important environmental contribution by taking a look at The RA Gallery and The Sheds gallery.