Devon Sculpture Park (DSP) has spent the last 5 years working with 5 artists to assemble a startling collection of conceptual and contemporary open-air environmental art installations. These, in turn, are surrounded by stunning historic architecture from the likes of Robert Adam that overlooks the sea and is enveloped by 100 acres of breathtaking rewilded lands that already boast a number of national conservation firsts – all on the outskirts of Exeter, one of the UK’s fastest growing cities.
‘5 artists, 5 years, 5 media’ is the work of two conceptual environmental artists, one large scale abstract ceramic artist, one land and performance artist and a video and photo artist. Each artwork has been carefully nurtured and curated in this mesmerising place reimagined into a national showcase for tackling the issues of our time head on. Devon Sculpture Park effortlessly combines eco, nature, 3D and the power of creativity not just physically but in the digital realm as well. A mash-up of history, modernity and issues based identity so lacking in our modern way of living life and doing business.
The artists: Chris Speyer, Terry Howe, Robert Marshall MRSS, Colin Porter and Jem McCluskey have spent a great deal of time in this haven crafting their bold work for this wonderful collection on Britain’s coastal shores. Their work is a passage through time and media. The art is not only in the park but also online thanks to an exciting partnership with LettsArt, the new way of showing, collecting and cataloguing art online. It’s an emerging online platform that can support any number of artists – going beyond the smaller cross section of artists involved at DSP.
Any time spent with these 5 artists is time well spent. They are passionate about their art form, but also about climate issues, politics and social change. Each adds a great deal to their local communities – some at soup kitchens or food banks, some in schools and some in nature. They make art, write, perform, photograph and communicate the issues of our time with frank honesty.
From the moment you enter the first gate into DSP you know you are somewhere different. A peahen wanders casually down the drive, a fallow deer bolts and the sea beckons you from below. The land is wild, vibrant and abundant. A place set out to repair the damage of climate change and nature pared back by man.
From when you park your car you spot the added glint of art and architecture. It starts with Japanese style outdoor paintings hanging under trees leading onto one of the earlier UK eco-art installations of cob, stone and glass. It is not long before you confront Chris Speyer’s first installation of haunting looking forms of massive clay carefully crafted to remind us that in this historic estate soil rules. Further into the Capability Brown gardens you experience how he shapes clay to spin a story about our rewilding and his roots in the Australian outback.
Marshall MRSS and Howe entertain us with bold, audacious conceptual environmental art that leaves you with an endless series of questions. They provide not just 3D art in this wild park, but portals to a different world – one not only conjured in their minds eye through their extraordinary creations fashioned from found and recycled materials, but fathomed around them by the custodians of the park on a mission to make the place bio-diverse, climate solving and ‘new chic’: Thoughtfully cause driven, a place where humans genuinely draw inspiration from their relationship with nature as previous power-names such as Lancelot Capability Brown, James Boswell and Robert Adam did before.
Porter and McCluskey provide a final slate of artistic poetry in this climate panacea – reflecting its two extremes. One centred on land art and the other on digital. Both bring the physical into the digital and both entertain us with their messages inspired by Devon Sculpture Park but way beyond this secret corner.
Where else might a historic building carry a green roof and glass ceilings? Where else takes a hidden, overrun Capability Brown garden and painstakingly restores it as a national rewilding masterpiece? Where else achieves conservation goal after conservation goal in a small 100 acre park? At DSP we combine all these elements to try to tell one essential story about history, contemporary art and climate protection.
Visit DSP and see the work of Chris Speyer, Terry Howe, Robert Marshall MRSS, Colin Porter and Jem McCluskey this summer with a Garden or 3 Hour Wildland Safari. When you do you will be supporting our rewilding and conservation work, while learning about the climate causes and techniques we champion.