In 2007, British sculptor Simon Gudgeon and his wife Monique created Sculpture by the Lakes, one of the most beautiful and unique sculpture parks in the UK, set in 26 acres of picturesque Dorset countryside it features gardens bursting with colour, pristine lakes, a meandering river, woodland and wild areas all interspersed with monumental sculptures by Simon.
Designed primarily as a space to exhibit Simon’s large outdoor pieces, as well as housing his workshop and gallery space the sculpture park has now become much more than that. There is now a fully licensed cafe, The Gallery Café, an extensive kitchen garden that supplies much of the menu for the cafe, a beautiful event space that overlooks the water meadows and the sculpture park where wellbeing workshops, gardening talks and winter art courses take pace and several more intimate spaces such a shepherd’s hut and a private island which visitors can hire for the day whilst enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the park.
Simon is one of Britain’s leading contemporary sculptors, sculpting primarily in bronze he crafts sculptures with a diverse range of subject matter- figurative, wildlife, abstract and kinetic yet all have an elemental kinship of identity with the living. Simon has attained worldwide recognition with exhibitions across the world including London, New York and Paris. His work is featured in important private collections including HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and can be seen in Hyde Park, London as well as the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Wyoming in the US.
The sculpture park also offers carefully planned planting, and plentiful wildlife, making it as much a destination for garden and nature lovers, as it is for art enthusiasts. The lakes are bounded by wilder, unspoilt areas, criss-crossed by tranquil walks which wind their way through newly restored wildflower and native grass meadows. A gradual process of restoration and rejuvenation of the ground’s native flora has been underway since Monique and Simon arrived in 2007 and this includes a massive planting of many thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses, bulbs and herbaceous perennials as well as reseeding with indigenous groundcover plants.
The gardens are a perfect backdrop for Simon’s sculptures throwing light and shadow across the works, bringing them to life and creating new shapes. Throughout the cycle of seasons, new perspectives are revealed as the light changes and flora and fauna appear, disappear and transform.
Sculpture by the Lakes is open to the public, and tickets are £10pp. Opening hours are 10am – 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday from April to September and 10am - 5pm Tuesday to Saturday from October to March. Children over 14 welcome.
Author: Simon Gudgeon
Pallington Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset
Photo: Sculpture by the lakes