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Capability Brown Gardens

Capability Brown Gardens

The Capability Brown gardens at Devon Sculpture Park are extraordinary. Capability Brown was commissioned over 250 years ago to design one of his only seascapes and probably his most intimate garden. Today it is one of the last remaining Capability Brown gardens in the South West.

Painstakingly restored, the gardens boast historic water gardens, rows of signature Capability Brown Cedar trees, a lake carved into Haldon Hill and an impressive series of connected beds that keep going twelve months of the year thanks to the unique design, aspect and micro-climate.

There are specific Autumn and Winter gardens, Wilded gardens, Romanesque courtyard and terrace wrap-around gardens plus a Tuscan style terraced kitchen garden.

We believe we have developed a nationally important collection of trees while fusing UK West country plants with Mediterranean species. We put nature first. Birds, bees, butterfly, moths and waterfowl abound. The gardens are surrounded by one of the UK’s leading rewilding projects.

Come and see for yourself. The Capability Brown gardens and inaugural ‘ART WILDED’ exhibition are open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm. Adults £12, children under 12 £6.

Art and Wellbeing

A standard definition for art is ‘art is emotion’. It should therefore be the case that art can and perhaps should affect our emotional wellbeing. Hopefully positively.

At Devon Sculpture Park we want to foster this link. We have double the motivation: firstly evidence supports that people de-stress in museums and galleries but also there is a sizeable movement around improving our wellbeing through ‘time in nature’.

We are about ‘art in nature’. Mamhead Park (South) was designed for it. The evidence is everywhere – with endless, mesmerising sea views framed so magically by Capability Brown, connected via a tunnel from the ice house all the way to the sea.

The Robert Adams Orangery has a dome that makes you giddy when you stare up at it. The Lake House reflects calmy off the Capability Brown lake. Rowing boats float among fish and birdlife.

Dozens of benches and chairs have been painstakingly positioned to promote sitting and relaxing; taking in the ‘art in nature’ while detoxing. After all, we have to live up to the inspiring engraving on one of our ancient pillars: ‘Et in Arcadia ego’ which translates to ‘I am in paradise’.

Join us. The Capability Brown gardens and inaugural ‘ART WILDED’ exhibition, are open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm. Adults £12, children under 12 £6.

WELLBEING WEDNESDAY

Every Wednesday wellbeing councillors and practitioners can bring clients and run sessions in our therapy rooms. There is no cost. To arrange contact hello@devonsculpturepark.org.

‘Art Wilded’ Exhibition

Our inaugural exhibition in the Capability Brown gardens is ‘ART WILDED’ by resident artist Philip Letts. We are open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm. Adults £12, children under 12 £6.

We also host group visits and guided tours. Book a Guided Art Tour – CLICK HERE.

The exhibition is a series of contemporary sculpture installations blending conceptual and abstract themes that examine the clash between modern society, technology, environment and nature.

Resident artist, Philip Letts, has been shown in leading art fairs across the world and has had a number of solo exhibitions in New York, London and Paris. He is best known for his relentless push into new media from abstract photography to mixed media, digital art, sculpture, installation and performance art. He focuses on urban culture and its relentless pressure on community and the environment.

Philip helps us challenge our place in the continuum of nature. Nature and urbanization are too often at odds leading to the degradation of the environment. It is more important than ever to work together to deal with climate change and the destruction of our land, wildlife and biodiversity.

‘Art Wilded’ is the first annual exhibition in the Capability Brown gardens at Devon Sculpture Park.

Book a Guided Art TourCLICK HERE. To arrange a group tour (minimum 10 people) email us at hello@devonsculpturepark.org.

Open Air Permanent Collection

Devon Sculpture Park has a sizable permanent collection of individual sculptures and installations. Developed over many decades the Open Air collection is now open to visitors. Visit us and book a Guided Art Tour – CLICK HERE.

Sculptures in the rewilded parkland reflect the extraordinary contours of the land and endless seascapes.

The permanent collection includes the largest collection of resident artist Letts’ environmental artworks plus dozens of sculptures from other leading UK artists.

Open scrub and woodland house an eclectic mix of environmental installations and graffiti art.

The Capability Brown gardens above the 800 year old church house sculptures installed decades ago.

Nearly 100 artworks can be viewed across 50 acres of the sculpture park.

Book a Guided Art TourCLICK HERE. To organise a group visit (minimum 10 people) email us at hello@devonsculpturepark.org.

Historic Buildings

Mamhead Park (South), where Devon Sculpture Park is located, is steeped in history. There are a number of historic buildings.

The Orangery

The Grade II listed Orangery started as a cascade house over 500 years ago. An early owner, Thomas Ball (1671 – 1749), planted many exotic trees brought back from his continental travels. A number are still standing. In the 1770’s Robert Adams was commissioned by the Earls of Lisburne to redo the cascade house with his classic Romanesque temple and cupola.

Robert Adams introduced the now famous Lancelot Capability Brown to redesign the gardens and frame the extraordinary views over the sea and Exe estuary. The Orangery is one of the last historic orangeries that is still lived in. It houses a private art collection.

The Ice House

The Ice House has a fascinating history dating back hundreds of years. It sits around 5 metres below ground with only its ancient roof visible above the ground.

It has tunnels running for miles East and West. One leads all the way to the sea at Starcross and another heads up the hill to the Obelisk at Mamhead Woods. They may even have been smugglers tunnels!

The Church

Grade II listed St Thomas the Apostle Church is over 800 years old but the current structure is mostly a 15th Century building. It still holds a monthly church service and is available for weddings.

St Thomas’ has a small but active congregation. The beautifully maintained garden and graveyard, with historic yew, are open to the public.

A Rewilding Centre

Devon Sculpture Park is surrounded by parkland and a recently established Wilding Project. Book a Wilding Tour – CLICK HERE.

Nearly 100 acres have been rewilded letting the land and nature return to their ancient, organic roots. Ploughing and fertiliser destroy the soil and damage our fragile environment – we do neither.

We nurture and support wildlife to manage the land with us. Ponies, Roe deer and small rare breed sheep top grass and keep invasive weed back. Alpacas lift lower canopy, protect new born lambs and eat thistle. Pigs manage scrub.

An extraordinary array of birds, bees and butterfly share our trees and hedgerow with field mice, bugs, hedge hogs and snakes.

Our lakes support a rich variety of fish, newt and dragonfly with duck and heron frequent visitors.

We believe the combination of sculpture park and rewilding project is unique. The wildlife and nature are a part of the overall installation, of our living art. Environmental, sustainable art is the future. Environmental issues are vital for artists to attack.

An Outdoor Centre for the Arts

Devon Sculpture Park is a new kind of outdoor art centre. We are not just one of the UK’s larger sculpture parks by acreage, we have the ambition to be a broader centre for the arts.

We were established by resident artist, Philip Letts, to support sculpture, visual arts both indoor and outdoor plus design, film, theatre, books, music, cooking and innovation.

At the bottom of the Capability Brown gardens is a sizable natural amphitheatre where we plan to host theatre, music and performance art – overlooking the sea.

We are a platform for artists to show how uniquely they can challenge our thinking, how effectively they enable us to see things differently. If you would like to talk to us about putting on an event just email hello@devonsculpturepark.org. We would love to hear from you.