Where to Experience Art Outdoors This Spring

With warm weather approaching and the natural world looking its best, there is no better time to enjoy some art outside. Whether monumental masterpieces set in grand wilderness or contemporary installation along the Thames, there is comfort in experiencing art in the great outdoors – and a great alternative as we wait for our favourite galleries and museums to open their doors. Here are a few amazing places to see art outdoors in Britain this Spring.


Times of crisis, just like this one, have always precipitated the movement of people – artists in particular – away from the cities and back to nature. During World War II, when Henry Moore’s Hampstead flat was bomb-damaged in the Blitz, he and his wife Irina moved out of London to a farmhouse in Hertfordshire. They never left. Hoglands became their lifelong home where Moore worked, inspired by his surroundings, the forms and motifs of the natural world appearing in the organic curves of his work. He and Irina also shaped the landscapes of their 70-acre estate. Today, these fields and gardens are, as Moore intended, the fitting outdoor showcase for more than 20 of his monumental sculptures – the green of the trees as a backdrop, bronze figures silhouetted against the sky. In May 2021, the studios and gallery will open again with Edmund de Waal’s This Living Hand exhibition.



The 18th-century follies, lawns and soul-stirringly lovely parkland of Bretton Hall is home to Britain’s original and largest art park. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is, in essence, an outdoor gallery, with changing exhibitions as well as permanent works such as the James Turrell-reimagined deer shelter, an extensive collection of Henry Moore bronzes, and sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Andy Goldsworthy – altogether around 100 works. Also showing in 2021 is a series of amazing large-scale installations by Joana Vasconcelos – including a vibrant, light-up rooster, a curving wall of rococo mirrors, and a lace-like wrought-iron teapot, along with oversized bronze figures by Damien Hirst and Thomas J Price. 



Weaving around the waterways of East London, from Stratford’s Olympic Park down to the Docklands and North Greenwich, The Line is a walking route via a series of contemporary artworks by British-based artists. The pieces speak to and are inspired by their surroundings, most of them site-specific and many on a grand scale. Anish Kapoor’s red rollercoaster of a tower. Antony Gormley’s steel Quantum Cloud, floating almost 100ft above the Thames. Richard Wilson’s cross-section of a sand dredger, A Slice of Reality, which sits on the riverbed and has an industrial, rust-bitten beauty. There’s humour and irreverence, as well as serious statements about our fragile environment and the colonial history of the London Docklands, explored in audio works by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong on the Emirates Air Line cable car, which flies The Line walkers across the river.



Jupiter Artland is an experiential sculpture park. The 100-acre grounds of Bonnington House outside Edinburgh is an offbeat wonderland of odd-angled greens, surreal topiary and splashy surprises that play tricks on both the mind and the eye while asking you to look differently at the world – just as contemporary art should. Founders and collectors Nicky and Robert Wilson have more than 30 permanent works here and hold temporary exhibitions too. In Jim Lambie’s A Forest, mirrored tiles reflect back the woodland, peeling away to reveal paintbox layers beneath. Phyllida Barlow’s tree-like structures in industrial concrete and steel both echo and clash with the surrounding landscape. Cornelia Parker’s giant shotgun leans disconcertingly against a tree. On Saturday 8 May 2021, Rachel Maclean unveils her permanent commission, upside mimi ᴉɯᴉɯ uʍop (Upside Down Mimi), an apparently abandoned toy shop, alongside an exhibition of her work running until Sunday 18 July 2021. Shortly after, in August 2021, the park will host an unmissable art and music festival, Jupiter Rising.


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