An Art Historian’s Review of Devon Sculpture Park

A secret discovered in the heart of Devon.

Art in the Devon Sculpture Park

Rosemary Cieri, Art Historian and Exhibition Curator

Arrived in this remote part of England – perhaps one of the most scenic I have seen- I proceeded to my assignment: A report on an exhibition of the latest art concerned with our most immediate problems: the destruction of our nature, our world, and our divine right to inhabit it.

This happened to be in the Devon Sculpture Park, 100 acres unknown to me, in perhaps the most beautiful part of Devon I have seen; with hills gently rolling down to the mouth of the River Exe and the open sea. A centre of rewilding, the new way to look after trees, plants, grasses and animals, who all live here in blissful harmony.

Image result for the thinker rodin

I discovered the impacting art of an artist, Philip Letts, English but known throughout the world (from New York to Beirut) for his groundbreaking art, progressive, but full of human history, of humanity faced with today’s problems. In a series of installations with paintings, sculpture, worked out with metal… we see animals alive and as skeletons, these last produced by man and industry’s impact on the natural world they need to survive.

Some of these installations shown here made me face problems until now partly ignored, but which made me think like Rodin’s “The Thinker” sitting and reflecting on our world. On leaving I saw similar types of sculptures scattered throughout the Devon Sculpture Park which, like me, were reflecting on our present dilemmas. Enhancement, vitality and energy stems from Philip Letts’ art, an art provocative, enlightening, as art should be and above all inspiring.

A Sculpture Park Tackling Climate Change

A Sculpture Park Tackling Climate Change

Devon Sculpture Park is on a mission. Not only is it developing one of the UK’s more ambitious sculpture parks, on a truly historic estate, but it is becoming a leading voice in tackling climate change.

Its permanent art collection is one of the UK’s larger collections of environmental art – sculpture, installation art and more. It includes a ground breaking 5 acre installation of 25 massive wood biodomes each housing hundreds of creatures while overwintering butterflies and bees, yielding sizable colonies of each.

This year the sculpture park has dedicated its outdoor and indoor galleries to exhibitions that challenge our thinking around man versus environment and community.

As if this was not enough the sculpture park sits on a hundred acre Rewilding Project. Six years in, this initiative has enabled nature to repair and renew the land, its wildlife and those of us lucky enough to wander through. The wildflower laden parkland with golden grasses shimmering in the sunlight remind us of bygone times. The ancient woodland glades and open scrubland foster vital biodiversity and protect wildlife, insect and birdlife. The Wilded verges are a simple demonstration of how any verge could be kept. This place is an eco-safari park right on our doorstep.

The Capability Brown gardens are one of the first historic gardens in the UK to be truly Wilded following a painstaking four year restoration. They showcase how we could make a difference in our own back yard no matter the size. The gardens lead the way on smaller scale, mass market, natural climate solutions.

The art challenges and provokes us while the Rewilding Project helps to educate us on how such natural climate solutions can save our planet – if we get behind them fast.

The education opportunities at Devon Sculpture Park are far-reaching. Children, parents, adults, researchers and activists all learn here – through the art, the gardens, the guided park tours and the events.

A day out at such a unique place not only helps support the wonderful estate and its content rich, highly topical art programme, but it allows us to get involved in solving our largest shared problem: saving the planet, its unique biodiversity and our very way of life.

Visit the Capability Brown gardens and main exhibitions Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm. Adults £12, children under 12 &£6.

Book a Group or School visit by contacting hello@devonsculpturepark.org. Volunteer at the park or simply start your climate journey by joining a two hour guided Wilding Tour – CLICK HERE.