Sculpture by the Lake Dorchester

PUBLISHED: 15:58 22 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:24 20 February 2013

Sculpture by the Lake Dorchester

Sculpture by the Lake Dorchester

Kate Hall considers the holistic benefits of experiencing art at one of the country's finest sculpture parks at Pallington Lakes near Dorchester

Sculptureby the Lakes

Kate Hall considers the holistic benefits of experiencing art at one of the countrys finest sculpture parks at Pallington Lakes near Dorchester

As Sculpture by the Lakes enters its second year, it is time to reflect on what has been achieved at this idyllic site. Simon and Monique Gudgeon have seen a dream turn into reality as the fruits of their planning and hard work have crystallised into what is considered to be one of the most beautiful sculpture parks in the country. By transforming an ordinary fishing-lake into a magnificent outdoor art gallery Simon and Monique have created artistic history. They have taken art out of conventional spaces and thoughtfully placed it in a natural landscape in the heart of the Dorset countryside.

Sculpture by the Lake showcases the much sought after work of internationally renowned sculptor Simon Gudgeon, who is represented worldwide by Halcyon Gallery which has four magnificent galleries in the heart of London, including a prestigious gallery in Harrods. Simons work not only sits in the homes of the royal family, his sculptures are featured in Hyde Park and on Millbank, as well as a number of art museums in the USA. One of his iconic pieces, Isis, will soon be unveiled in the new Sculpture Trail at Americas National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.

A journalist writing about Sculpture by the Lakes in one of the national newspapers referred to the art being "scattered" through the park. This evoked a vision of someone simply throwing the pieces randomly, leaving them where they landed without rhyme or reason to their placement. In reality the position of each piece is carefully considered before being placed against the wild and beautiful backdrop of the 26 acre Pallington Lakes. Each piece is then enhanced further by Moniques thoughtful and delicate planting, so much so that the pieces seem to be born from the landscape and the sculptures sit in harmony with their surroundings, never at odds with them.

Sculpture parks are Britains best-kept secret and are proving to be a popular way for people to connect with art on many levels. They also give unrivalled access to monumental pieces by some of the most notable names in British art scene, pieces that would otherwise merge or disappear in the confines of a gallery setting probably in a city.

This accessibility factor was paramount in Simons vision for Sculpture by the Lakes. "One of the defining aspects of our species is that we make objects that are essentially non-utilitarian; we make beautiful artwork because we find them pleasing to the eye and the soul," he says. "Some of that power is diminished when they are placed in a museum or gallery because they are out of context. Placing sculpture outdoors, where large pieces were intended to be, restores that power so that people can relate to them."

With this in mind the visitor experience at Sculpture by the Lakes is unparalleled. Each person has a personal, tangible, unedited, unconstrained interaction with Simons art. Art is not interpreted for you; you are not told what to see but encouraged to find your own meaning in the pieces. You can even touch the sculptures. As a result each person has a very individual response to the place, but, remarkably, they share similar reactions. I have witnessed people arrive feeling stressed and then watched as they are transformed during their visit, leaving with a renewed sense of calm and peace. Leafing through the Visitor Book you get a feel for the impact this experience has on them on both a physical and psychological level:

Impossibly beautiful sculpture, surroundings and experience; the mind wandered, the heart soared

Absolutely enthralling. We all love it and will be back as often as possible

This is a place of wonder, magic and inspiration

A magical place, refreshing my soul

One of the most magical and inspiring places in our very beautiful Dorset. We will most definitely be back

Reading such uplifting comments like this is rewarding for Simon and Monique who have always intended that Sculpture by the Lakes would be a place where people can find peace and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of life; a place where you can experience a more natural presentation of art. With no barriers, no queues or crowds, the environment enhances your freedom to enjoy the experience and touching the sculptures in positively encouraged by Simon: "We experience art with all our senses, art is a natural human behaviour; it demands that we engage with it not just as mere observers."

The venue also has a remarkable quality, which makes it stand out from any experience that a gallery can offer. Here in the great outdoors the canvas changes every day, every hour and with the seasons; visitors often remark on this and their repeated visits are testament to the magic of this phenomenon.

Art does not have to be, and should never be, inaccessible. At Sculpture by the Lakes there is an invitation to encounter art on a truly personal level without being challenged by it or told what to see. When visitors return again and again, each visit seems to enhance their well-being. In our sometimes chaotic world there is a haven of tranquility in this beautiful part of Dorset, where the visitor can escape for a few hours and leave refreshed.

Visiting Sculpture by the Lakes

There is a limit on the number of daily visitors so booking must be done on line in advance and no children under 12 years old are permitted. Entry 10 per person.

A guide to the sculptures can be downloaded from the website.

Refreshments:There are no facilities on site though you are welcome to bring a picnic. A list of local pubs, restaurants and hotels can be found via the website.

Opening times:11am 5pm. The average visit is around two hours but stay for as long as you wish.

Getting there:Sculpture by the Lakes is located at Pallington Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8QU. Pallington is about half a mile east of Tincleton, once you go under the power lines its the second house on the right with a tall beech hedge and security gates. Outside the entrance is a black stone Pallington Lakes sign.

For more details and booking visit

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