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Angel of the North | © Toa Heftiba / Unsplash
Angel of the North | © Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

Where to Find the Best Outdoor Art in the UK

Picture of Emma Lavelle
Updated: 20 September 2017

Art isn’t always found within the confines of four walls, there are plenty of outdoor spaces in the UK where you can find intriguing art and interactive sculptures. Viewing artworks outdoors is the perfect way to get a little culture and fresh air at the same time, dispelling the myth that you can’t enjoy both at once. There are many places in Britain where artists and sculptures have placed impressive works of art that perfectly complement the natural landscapes that surround them – Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ and ‘Angel of the North’ for example. Here are six locations where you can spend an entire afternoon enjoying outdoor art.

Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

This privately owned sculpture park located just outside Edinburgh is open to the public for just half of the year, displaying an impressive permanent collection of outdoor contemporary sculptures alongside visiting exhibitions. Previously nominated for the Art Fund Museum of the Year award, Jupiter Artland showcases innovative works of art that interact with the trees, water and fields within the grounds. Impressive sculptures by big names such as Cornelia Parker, Anish Kapoor and Andy Goldsworthy draw in the crowds while temporary exhibits display work by up-and-coming artists.

Jupiter Artland, Bonnington House Steadings, Wilkieston, Edinburgh +44 1506 889900

Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland | © subberculture / Flickr

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield

Part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, the 500-acre Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the largest outdoor art spaces in the UK. There are over 80 open-air sculptures situated throughout the vast park, most of them based north of the lake near the entrance with a couple of high-profile pieces placed further away to urge visitors to explore further afield. Visit now to spot sculptures by the likes of David Nash, Andy Goldsworthy and Antony Gormley, alongside a rare collection of works by controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield +44 1924 832631

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park | © PROJordanhill School D&T Dept / Flickr

Grizedale Forest, Cumbria

Located in the south of the Lake District, Grizedale Forest is home to over 50 permanent sculptures that can be discovered and interacted with via an accessible walkway. The sculpture trail was launched in 1977, making Grizedale the very first forest in the UK to contain works of art. Most of the sculptures are constructed from wood or stone with key pieces including Kerry Morrison’s giant fern, Lucy Tomlins’ concrete country stile and ‘The Clockwork Forest’ by greyworld.

Grizedale Forest, Grizedale, Hawkshead, Ambleside +44 300 067 4495

Grizedale Forest

Grizedale Forest | © Russ McGinn / Wikimedia Commons

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Gloucestershire

An easy to follow four-and-a-half mile trail through the Forest of Dean showcases over twenty dramatic works of art that are designed to complement the surrounding woodland. Highlights along the trail include a giant stained glass window suspended over the path, a deer crafted from wire and a huge chair made from tree trunks. Keep your eyes peeled along the way for curious deer and wild boar that share the forest with the sculptures.

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Speech House Rd, Coleford +44 300 067 4800

Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean | © Nilfanion / Wikimedia Commons

Kielder Forest, Northumberland

The vast area surrounding Kielder Forest Park is home to an impressive array of sculptures, although the distance between them all insists that you travel by car to be able to view them all. Close to Kielder Castle, the Minotaur Maze is an interactive puzzle to solve with unusual staircases and rock walls twisting and turning to entice visitors to discover its sparkling centre. Just three miles away lies the giant wooden head known as Silvas Capitalis, but you’ll have to walk further to discover other works including Janus Chairs, the Salmon Cubes and the Wave Chamber. Ensure that you don’t miss the a visit to the Kielder Observatory, a working observatory that combines sculpture and architecture to create a beautifully designed building.

Kielder Forest Park, Kielder +44 845 155 0236

Kielder Forest

Kielder Forest | © Steve Elliott / Flickr

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives, Cornwall

Based in Trewyn studios, the place where she lived and worked until her death in 1975, the Barbara Hepworth Museum is a perfectly fitting tribute to the artist’s incredible body of work. After taking over management of the museum in the 1980s, the Tate went on to open their second regional gallery in St Ives in 1993, securing the Cornish town as an important location in the British contemporary art scene. Visitors exploring the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden will discover a variety of the artist’s works in bronze, stone and wood, many of them still resting in the very positions where the artist placed them after completion.

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, Barnoon Hill, Saint Ives +44 1736 796226

Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth | © Matt Brown / Flickr