This is an unedited version of a story which appeared in The Herald on 23/6/12
Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park
Colintraive, Argyll, PA22 3AR
Open until October every Tue by appointment & Wed-Sun, 11am-6pm (closed Monday)
|Rob Mulholland's work stands well in this setting|
THE setting for Scotland’s newest sculpture park could be described as a work of art in itself. With the mighty Scottish midge the only blight on the landscape at Caol Ruadh in Colintraive, Argyll, this 20 acre estate is a comely mix of native woodland, landscaped gardens, wide open space and sublime views over the Kyles of Bute.
This big house at Caol Ruadh, a statuesque late Victorian house (meaning ’red house on the narrows’), sits comfortably at the heart of the park, an unmissable landmark on the Kyles for passing boats.
In the last month, eagle-eyed sailors will have also spotted changes in the park, as it has gradually filled up with contemporary sculpture and outdoor art works.
From tomorrow, all these artworks will be for sale, and members of the public will be welcome to come and view original work from 17 of Scotland’s leading 3d artists, including; Tom Allan, Guy Elder, Emma Herman Smith, Andy McClintock, Illona Morrice, Rob Mulholland, Deirdre Nicholls, Tim Pomeroy, Jenny Pope, and Bill Williamson.
The park, which will be open for business until the autumn, re-opening next May, is the result of a long-held dream on the part of Caol Ruadh owner Karen Scotland and her business partner, Anne Edmonds.
The two women got to know each other when they studied for a degree in Landscape Architecture at Kingston University.
Both had spent the last 20 years designing and working around interiors and gardens. Karen explains: “Anne spent time working at the National Theatre’s scenery department, which has given her an insight into the spatial element of design. My background is in built design, which allows me to see how constructional problems to be overcome.”
Karen and her husband have owned Caol Ruadh since 1998, and the germ of an idea to create a sculpture garden has taken root slowly.
She explains: “Anne and I started with the concept of if you build, they will come, which we adapted from the movie, Field of Dreams, and set about looking for sculptors and installation artists all over Scotland producing work we felt could cope with an outdoor environment.
“In the last year, we have been out and about building connections with Scottish artists. We’ve worked closely with Penny and Andrew Graham-Weall, from the nearby Tighnabruaich Gallery, as I’ve bought a lot of art work from them over the years and have got to know them well.
“They have been looking out for likely artists and we’ve worked together on building relationships with sculptors.
“It’s been an organic thing and word of mouth has played a big part. Talking to one artist, would lead us to another. Early on, we payed a visit to the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and that was mind-blowing.”
At Edinburgh, the Caol Ruadh team met artists such as Andrea Geile, Deirdre Nicholls, Emma Herman-Smith, Kevin Dagg, Jenny Pope and Natalie Taylor, who are all participating in this first exhibition in their outdoor space.
“One of the specifications is that the work has to be robust and be able to keep up with the climate,” says Karen. “Just the other week, for example, there was a storm which left out boathouse doors the worse for wear – and that was in summer time.”
As a result, they have work like Andrea Geile’s sculptures made from everlasting Corten steel, often grouped with real plants and relating directly to the site environment and Deidre Nicholls’ portraits, cast in bronze, and other figurative cast either in bronze, plaster or cement.
Emma Herman-Smith’s giant ground-based Carbon Footprint, which can be viewed from the air, is 10.2m long, mirroring the average carbon footprint in the UK of10.2 tonnes of carbon per household.
|Go on - take a seat, courtesy of Guy Elder|
Jenny Pope’s sculptural pieces represent a coming home of sorts, since they are inspired by beachcombing, collecting, bone structures and geology.
Karen and Anne also visited Glasgow Sculpture Studios, where they met the well-regarded Scottish sculptor, Tom Allan, who works mainly in stone and marble. His beautifully tactile works blend in perfectly into these surroundings, striking an ancient connection.
More strikingly contemporary are Rob Mulholland’s see-through figures which meld their way into the landscape.
Local talent is also well represented. Guy Elder’s oak Chaise Longue has one of the best views in Scotland while Andy McClintock’s work blends painting sculpture and landscape gardening. Ceramicist Bill Williamson, another Argyll artist, has been creating interventions in the shape of plaques attached to trees.
Karen can’t help herself using metaphors from nature when it comes to describing this labour of love in this beautiful patch of Argyll.
“We are growing into our shoes here,” she says. “This is just the start, and we are already looking to next year; imagining installation as well as sculpture. Nothing is fixed. It is an organic process.”
A word to the wise; don’t forget your wellies and pack the midgie repellent.