Sculpture by the Lakes visit
Sculpture by the Lakes is located near Dorchester in the beautiful county of Dorset. For several years I had been wanting to visit. Then the opportunity arose to go with Tintinhull Garden Club so I jumped sat it.
This sculpture park is based on a previously intensively managed coarse fishing lakes but all that has changed.
I first met the artist Simon Gudgeon over 20 years ago at fund raising events to support the work of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.
A strong sense the beauty of natural things shows in his work. Simon has been very successful in making the transition from painting to sculpting and his works are hugely inspired by nature.
The description on the Sculpture by the Lakes website aptly sums up Simon Gudgeon’s work – “One of Britain’s leading contemporary sculptors, Simon Gudgeon has a signature smooth-style that marvelously concentrates spirit and nature. His minimalist, semi-abstract forms depict both movement and emotion of a moment captured with a visual harmony that is unmistakably his own.”
If you have been to Chelsea or Malvern Flower Shows then you may have already seen some of Simon’s pieces. Two of these have graced the Best in Show Gardens at Malvern Spring Festivals [2018,2019].
I was delighted to see one of these pieces again on my Sculpture by the Lakes visit. That was Leaf Spirit.
Seeing this and the other sculptures in a naturally setting was perfect. Some even reflect in the lakes.
Large pieces are displayed in the open and there are smaller pieces in the Gallery Barn. The excellent on site restaurant has some small sculptures to admire as you relax and eat good food. Most of the sculptures on display are on sale.
To see “Search for Enlightenment” set between a lake and the fast flowing River Frome was very special for me. I had previously seen these at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Friends have two smaller versions of these in the centre of their kitchen. These are very tactile irrespective of size!
The River Frome flows alongside this 26 acre site. Damselflies, dragonflies and other aquatic insects were everywhere.
Well established native trees and shrubs are everywhere between the lakes . Newer plantings around the Sculpture by the Lakes are of interesting specimen trees and shrubs.
Native wildflowers flourish here. There’s plenty to attract insects with big drifts of ox eye daisies in bloom at the time of my visit will be followed by greater knapweed. The latter is a favourite of butterflies and moths.
Wherever you are at the Sculptures by the Lakes there is constant birdsong. It’s not just the common birds; this place is full of the uncommon stuff too. I tried to identify warblers and failed miserably. However, I’m sure that there were reed, citti’s and willow warblers calling constantly.
With so much wildlife it’s little wonder that the Sculpture by the Lakes has been awarded Dorset Wildlife Trust’s 2018 Wildlife Gardening Award.
Closer to the house there’s a delightful garden designed by Simon’s wife Monique Gudgeon.
Naturally this displays some of Simon’s exquisite sculptures but it also shows the skills of Monique as a talented garden designer. I
particularly liked the simplicity of mounds of green privet that sat so well in the surrounding tree plantings.
But there are more conventional plantings rich with colour from roses, perennials and climbing plants.
It’s not hard to find a rill, dense bamboo planting, exotic green foliage, flowering bulbs and much more.
There’s a very productive and attractive vegetable and fruit garden. The on site restaurant uses produce to create delicious lunches and tea.
If you’ve enjoyed my account of my Sculpture by the Lakes visit you might enjoy my account of visits to