Picture this: Summer’s end at Broomhill…

First posted September 2014

With the days becoming noticeably shorter and meteorologists once again reach for descriptions like “autumnal” to make “cold and wet” seem more acceptable, I took the opportunity to visit Broomhill Sculpture Gardens again before the summer came to an end.

Plenty of the sculptures that I photographed in my previous post were still on display here and I knew from several other visits to Broomhill that many of these are semi-permanent installations, giving them the feel of familiar old friends, aging gracefully amongst the trees and lush foliage of the beautiful woodland valley setting.
But there is always something new to see here and the gardens were at the time playing host to the National Sculpture Prize, displaying work by the 2014 finalists in the woods and wildflower meadow down by the river.

Walking up the winding drive from the visitors parking area, the entrance flanked by sleek curving steel forms…

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…you encounter all manner of surprises, rearing above you from the steeply sloping banks or tucked away within the green alcove of a hedge.

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Reaching the top of the hill, your first view as you round the final curve in the drive is this impressive gryphon, towering over the terrace in front of the hotel…

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…where I sat for a few minutes, looking down over the valley, reading about the sculpture prize and enjoying a refreshing local cider in the late afternoon sun.

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Making my way down the zig-zagging path through the wooded garden, I first encountered sharply stylised African influenced stone figures…

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…juxtaposed with more abstract, modernist pieces, both on the ground and suspended in the branches overhead.

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The path eventually leads down to the lake, the area around it dotted with more sculptures, peering out from the surrounding trees and the still water itself.

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Following the meandering track back up through the woods, I couldn’t resist dropping in on the strange, post-apocalyptic world of the abandoned tennis court, an exhibit I am always drawn to when I come here and one that never fails to provide some striking images.

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Then I made my way to the main display area for the prize finalists, on the way passing what looked like a yoga lesson, frozen in time.

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Details of all the 2014 NSP finalists are included in the links at the top of this post, but here are a selection of some of my favourite pieces, starting with an oversized piece that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, I can’t think why…

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And I had to get one final shot of this piece, another of my personal favourites, the atmospheric Watchers, frozen in enigmatic contemplation amongst the dappled shade by the riverbank.

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If you can get down there, I recommend that you visit the National Sculpture Prize exhibit at Broomhill, the voting ends soon and the winner will be announced in October.

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Sculpting the landscape…

I was recently contacted by someone from Artsy, a company that specializes in selling the work of artists and promoting galleries, because they had seen a post I wrote a couple of years ago on Diary of an Internet Nobody about the abundance of outdoor sculpture we have in the south west.

The gentleman who got in touch was specifically interested in the fact that I had published photos of Damien Hirst‘s giant statue, Verity, that stands on the seafront at Ilfracombe in North Devon.

Verity is a breathtaking piece of work, standing guard over the small harbour, towering over residents and tourists alike, her stance giving the appearance of a benevolent colossus or avenging angel, brandishing the divine sword and scales of justice as she gazes out to sea, keeping a watchful eye out for invaders.

Hirst's Verity statue.

The sculpture is very much part of the town’s landscape now, but when she initially arrived Verity was a controversial figure, with one side of her imposing, pregnant frame flayed of skin, the surface of her body peeled away to reveal her unborn child and other anatomical details.

Hirst's Verity, flayed side

You can watch Verity being lifted into place in this clip.

Hirst is one of the most talked about, original and talented modern artists to have come out of the UK in recent years, so I am very honoured to have been asked by Artsy to include this link to the Damien Hirst page of their site where you can find out more about the man himself and view the catalogue of his extraordinary work.

But as I said, there is a huge variety of outdoor artwork to marvel at in Devon, be it municipal art in the centre of towns or private sculpture gardens in the beautiful countryside, wherever you go, you are never far from the next striking artistic installation.

"Family" statue, Barnstaple, North Devon

Scrap metal "Predator" sculpture, Lynmouth

Stone lane Mythic Gardens, Chagford

Broomhill Art Hotel

Stone lane Mythic Gardens, Chagford

Broomhill Art Hotel

Stone lane Mythic Gardens, Chagford

Broomhill Art Hotel

Stone lane Mythic Gardens, Chagford

Broomhill Art Hotel

War Memorial, Wollacombe

Broomhill Art Hotel

Broomhill Art Hotel

Broomhill Art Hotel

Broomhill Art Hotel

Broomhill Art Hotel