When Robert and Nicky Wilson bought Bonnington House, a Jacobean manor house in 1999 they soon realised that the formal gardens, fields and woodlands surrounding the historic house would be perfect for their long-held ambition to create a sculpture park.
Nicky had always been deeply influenced by Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest piece of work Little Sparta, situated 30 miles from Bonnington that combined horticulture with individual works of art. Nicky believed that in the ancient land of art and nature, home and family, livestock and the footfall of those interested in contemporary sculpture could all co-exist.
The couple’s aims with Jupiter Artland were to promote the benefits of outdoor creative activity for well-being, promote contemporary art through permanent commissions and exhibitions and to nurture emerging artists. As well as this and perhaps the grandest aim was to provide free unique access, learning and engagement to world class sculpture for educational organisations and community groups as well as extending reach through free digital engagement, training and resources.
It is Jupiter Artland’s mission to get every school child in Scotland to visit and experience the sculpture park for free and offers free visits to schools, universities and community groups. The team also work with schools to build a lifelong appreciation of art.
Jupiter Artland is home to a growing collection of outdoor sculpture, powered by an annual commissioning programme that sees artists invited to create their best work in response to, and in dialogue with, landscape. Since 2005, the grounds of the 120-acre estate have gradually become populated by works of art from some of the biggest names in contemporary sculpture and opened to the public as a sculpture park in 2008. The entire 120 acre estate is dotted with site specific sculpture and each year the team commission a temporary sculptural piece by an emerging artist.
Unrivalled internationally, this unique programme has resulted in landmark permanent artworks by luminaires including Charles Jencks, Phyllida Barlow, Christian Boltanski, Helen Chadwick, Nathan Coley, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Anya Gallaccio, Andy Goldsworthy, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Tania Kovats, Cornelia Parker and Joana Vasconcelos, all of which are permanently on view to the public during open season. A living collection, Jupiter has been described as ‘an open-air laboratory; a place where new things come into dialogue with things that already exist, allowing them to grow in people’s imaginations.’
Situated between the urban centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Jupiter stands first and foremost as a garden of ideas: a protected yet open space for new ways of thinking, making and doing sculpture. The five gallery spaces at Jupiter represent a garden within a garden, a hortus conclusus within the larger Jupiter landscape, where artists test out new art forms, where ideas flourish and where critical discourse is respected. From the earliest days at Jupiter, it has been vital for the galleries to function both as exhibition spaces and as the setting for public talks, assemblies and an active live art programme. To date, Jupiter has hosted over thirty exhibitions and temporary projects, including an annual commission award to an early career artist, of any age, to make their first site-responsive work in the landscape.