“I’d like this one … and this one … and this would be gorgeous in our garden, Mummy,” so shouts my daughter as she runs on ahead of me, breaking the peace and quiet of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens as we make our way around the latest Sussex sculpture trail (from the Surrey Sculpture Society).
In fairness to my keen 10-year-old, she hits the nail entirely on the head.
Surrey Sculpture Society at Leonardslee
Surrey Sculpture Society are showing an impressive 101 sculptures on the trail – and kudos to whoever designed the route as it is accessible all the way around (though just bear in mind there are a couple of loose gravelled sloping paths where wheelchairs and buggies will need a little assistance) and if done the way we did, with various stops, it can be done in a comfortable 90 minutes – leaving you plenty of time to indulge in a piece of cake at the café.
The trail is well thought out and embraces some of the Anton Smit sculptures that are dotted around the entirety of the estate, again, giving us pause for thought as we compared and contrasted the skills of the South African sculptor’s enormous heads and people, versus the smaller ones such as the beautifully formed yoga figures in the Camellia Walk.
You’ll also find the trail takes you past the famous wallabies – always a win, and alongside the stunning vineyard that is really beginning to take off. Not long until some Leonardslee Sussex wine will be on its’ way, to complement its South African offerings.
A Sussex sculpture trail for all people
Sometimes art, sculpture, culture in general, can feel a bit … difficult to get into. It can be inhabited by people too keen to prove you “don’t get it” and can sometimes be too provocative, or too niche, too cliché or sometimes just all a bit “samey”.
Sculpture and art are not easy mediums to get children interested in either. They can be too static or passive but when they’re good, and the setting is glorious, when the trail takes in a wallaby enclosure and finishes off nigh on next to a café and dolls house exhibition. Well. Then you have a winning combination.
On our visit to Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, we took our time around the trail with our canine companion (well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome), moving from abstract beauties to garden sculptures that enchanted, via copper statues and inspiring monoliths. One of the real attractions for me for visiting a sculpture exhibition such as this one, which is at Leonardslee until Sunday 4 September, is the sheer volume of art and creativity around every corner. When we came upon anything my daughter instinctively felt she “didn’t like” we’d discuss why, opening the discussions around art and opinion.
The majority of the work is for sale, which again encourages a response when looking at it. Would I buy it? Would I have this art in my house? Can I own a small sliver of culture? The answer is, well, yes, probably. Whilst we’ll have to save up for our favourite sculpture there are many which are around the £200 mark, and considering the blood, sweat and tears which would have in all likelihood gone into making the vast majority of them, this seems a bargain.
If you’re inspired to make a purchase, the Surrey Sculpture Society sales desk is near the Clocktower Café, where the stewards can discuss your interest – but are also on hand to have a chat about any of the works you see. Entry to the trail is included in the entry fee to the whole of the Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, a stunning 240 acres of Grade One listed gardens, parkland, lawns and forest area.
For more information on the trail visit www.surreysculpture.org.uk
Contributed by Lisa Brace Our Writers
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