Have you ever had one of those weeks where you’re really busy but at the same time, you feel like you’re getting nothing done? It’s something I’ve related to a lot recently. Joe and I work in different fields but both of us have pretty demanding jobs. Joe’s role requires a painstaking level of attention to detail and my work as a psychotherapist comes with its own varied challenges. One way we stay afloat after an intense week is to nurture our creative interests. As I’ve mentioned before, I love to write and Joe is an enthusiastic and brilliant landscape painter (please, nobody tell him I’ve complimented his art in this way, if he finds out, he will curl up and die of shame, as is the British custom known as modesty).
However, there are times when the inspiration to create just isn’t there even if you really badly want it to be. In its place is a blank page or canvas, mocking and/or haunting you with it’s unmarked plainness. What do you do when the thing you love turns against you in this way? Well, as crime passionnel isn’t a reasonable legal defence in England; you do resist the urge to maniacally and repeatedly stab the page with your pen/implement of choice until you’ve reduced the paper to mere scraps. Instead, you take a step back, take a deep breath… aaaaaand…. you accept an invitation to a place where inspiration is pretty much a guarantee.
Joe and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Sculpture by the Lakes park (Pallington Lakes in Dorchester, to be precise). We visited on a Saturday a few weekends ago on a mild and beautifully bright day. We were quite literally kicking ourselves for not knowing that this park existed until we got an email about it. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I spend a lot of time hunting down places of natural beauty. I also love a good art gallery. In fact, all our travels this last year have been centred around art exhibits, whether it was MoMA or the Guggenheim in New York or Stedelijk in Amsterdam; they were all hours I would happily repeat. Well, the Park marries Sculpture art with the outstanding beauty of the Dorset countryside meaning it is quite literally “right up my street.” (It’s actually a 35 minute drive away which in Dorset might as well be right up your street – life without motorways is tough!)
Sculpture by the Lakes is the now seven-year-old baby of husband-and-wife team Simon and Monique Gudgeon. Simon is an award-winning Sculptor and his works have been featured internationally, as well as closer to home (for example, in Hyde Park). The Park is set across 26 acres of countryside that have been landscaped and manicured, with winding pathways that stretch alongside the lakes. Monique is the head gardener and deserves a lot of credit for the beautiful spaces she has created. Simon’s sculptures are dotted throughout the park, with Monique ensuring that her work enhances rather than distracts from his pieces.
The park itself is a stunning space. We got about ten bajillion pictures (which is why there will be a second post coming soon). Eventually, we had to force ourselves to put our phones and DSLR away and try and soak up where we were in the moment. Honestly, as a self-professed glued-to-my-phone person, it wasn’t difficult at all to do here. The park is so peaceful and still but at the same time, so breathtakingly beautiful that it demands your attention. You can hear birdsong and the gushing streams of water from the lakes. I can’t remember the last time I was outside and I could actually hear so much of the natural world. As you walk, you come across more beauty and more of Simon’s works.
I know I’ve talked about having a love-hate relationship with more contemporary art (minimalism – I’ll leave it, thanks!). However, there’s something about sculpture art that Joe and I have always appreciated whether it’s Grecian or a garage project someone finished last week. Some of Simon’s works are inspired by nature so to me, it made perfect sense they are now housed where they are – a sort of return to nature as it were. People say ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and I often think the same is true for art. Art is whatever you make of it. As you can see, a lot of my photos are taken with the sculptures being obstructed in some way, by leaves, an overhanging branch and so forth. There was something beautiful about these man-made structures existing in a way that didn’t intrude on the natural world around them but rather, they seemed to almost act as camouflage pieces.
As I mentioned, the light was particularly beautiful on this day…
One of our favourite pieces was called Embrace. I mention this as a warning that what follows now is a lot of pictures of Embrace. Tell me you agree that’s it’s beautiful – please? The ladybird certainly seemed to think so!
My absolute favourite piece was one which gave me the inspiration I was really needing that week – it was aptly named ‘Search for Enlightenment.”
Right off the bat, I’ll say what every millennial looking at this piece is thinking: what a great place for an Instagram pose. Yes, we did lower the tone of the park by taking those obligatory photos.
But more than that, it was a piece that re-ignited my creative spark. On this piece, there was an inscription from Simon where he talked about what inspired this piece.
Reading that quote immediately reminded me of one of my favourite short stories of all time: ‘The Last Question’ by Isaac Asimov. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. I think we all have that one book that really made us fall in love with reading and/or writing. For me, The Last Question was one of them. The story is all about humanity, throughout many eras, asking a computer how the death of the universe can be prevented and never getting a response. One of the final scenes of the story conjures up this very powerful image of mankind pondering his own fate as the stars begin to flicker out around them. As daft as it might sound to some, that final scene really moved me and it all stirred up this strong feeling in me that I wanted to one day be able to have the ability to write words that made other people feel things too. It was an inspiring book and this piece really reminded me of that inspiration. It really was the reminder I needed that day to get me out of my funk.
We spent a blissful few hours exploring and vowed to come back. There is an exhibition in late November that we’re eager to attend. I will also just emphasise photos do not do this place justice. I implore you to go and see the space and Simon’s work for yourselves and see what inspiration you find there.
You can read more about the Park on the website here, currently open Tues-Sat, 10am-5pm. Please be mindful that the park does not allow any pets or children under the age of fourteen. Simon and Monique are huge animal-lovers, with many rescue dogs so although I am sure they would be overjoyed to share the park with young children and pets, I know from their website that they cannot do so because of health and safety reasons (think: lakes!)