Nestled in the Dorset countryside just six miles east of Dorchester is one of the county’s hidden gems – Sculpture by the Lakes.
This 26-acre sculpture park is a glorious gallery under the skies, where visitors can escape from daily worries surrounded by woodland, water, gardens and inspiring works of art. Even those who would never dream of setting foot inside a traditional art gallery find themselves drawn to wandering the sculpture park, confidently enjoying the sculptures in their open air setting, absorbing the tranquil magic that has been created through the park.
And if you’ve never visited before, now is the perfect time: FORM – the Sculpture Exhibition taking place at Sculpture by the Lakes – is now open, with over 200 sculptures on display by 30 of the UKs leading sculptors.
Sculpture by the Lakes is owned by Simon Gudgeon, an internationally recognised sculptor favoured by royalty and rock stars alike, with more than 30 of his pieces installed in the grounds.
Considered to be one of Britain’s leading contemporary sculptors, despite never having sculpted anything until the age of 40, Simon has become known for his signature, smooth-style and his minimalist, semi-abstract large-scale sculptures. Search for Enlightenment, Simon’s iconic bronze sculpture of two backward-tilted heads, is a firm favourite with visitors to Sculpture by the Lakes, along with another of Simon’s most famous pieces Isis, aka Serenity.
Its elegant pared-back form typifies much of Simon’s tone and style as an artist.
His works also feature in high-profile public locations, including Kew Gardens and Hyde Park in the UK, as well as internationally, and form part of many important private collections – three generations of the Royal Family own a Simon Gudgeon sculpture.
Over the past decade Simon has turned Sculpture by the Lakes into a piece of art in its own right, not only creating sculptures, but designing and making every element, from benches and hanging seats to fencing and plant supports, while his wife Monique and a small team of gardeners have created the gardens, walkways, wildlife havens, and planted hundreds of trees.
Together the couple have transformed this space from the working fishery it once was, into a stunning and unique visitor attraction, over time opening up galleries, an award-winning café, developing the landscape and every year adding more art works.
This creative hub also plays host to events throughout the year, from art exhibitions and workshops, to large scale events such as last summer’s hugely successful Dorset Arts Festival, which safely welcomed some 2,000 people.