Inspiration to put garden sculpture in the spotlight

5 minutes

Whether you’re thinking of adding a new piece of sculpture to your garden or looking for inspiration to enhance a particular space, there are a number of spectacular sculpture gardens and exhibitions to visit across the UK.

From grand landscapes with sculpture on a monumental scale, to smaller formal gardens displaying hand-crafted work in mixed media, it’s always important to see a potential garden sculpture purchase in an outdoor setting. From choosing the sculptor, the type of material and style of work from abstract, traditional, figurative or kinetic, invest time in visiting a range of sculpture gardens and parks – there is so much to enjoy before even making your choice!

If you’ve had a sculpture in your garden for decades, have recently acquired or are considering acquiring a new piece, it’s important to look after it and insure it correctly.

(Image: Athena by Simon Gudgeon)

  • Above all, from the outset, ensure your sculpture is professionally installed and securely fixed. Depending on value, some insurers may require additional security.
  • Some policies may exclude outdoor sculptures or limit the amount payable in the event of a claim – so before you invest in a sculpture, check your policy wording or speak to your broker.
  • Specialist items such as statues, sculptures and other garden items, particularly if they are of high value, should be treated as fine art and not simply included under the general contents figure.
  • Your insurer may cover your sculptures on an agreed value basis. In any case, you should make sure that you have an up-to-date valuation.
  • In the winter, it is well worth protecting old stone with a cover. If you notice any small damage or hairline cracks, get them repaired so moisture cannot get in during freezing temperatures.

Some of our favourite gardens and exhibitions to explore

Remember pre-booking is essential.

Houghton Hall, North Norfolk

Antony Gormley and Magdalene Odundo

Built for Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, in the 1720s, this historic Palladian mansion is home to the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley – a descendant of Sir Robert. The grounds are home to an impressive permanent collection of contemporary sculptures and two new major exhibitors, Sir Antony Gormley and Dame Magdalene Odundo, who are staging solo presentations this year. 

Sir Antony, one of the most important artists of his generation, will present Time Horizon – 100 life-size, cast iron bodies punctuating the grounds while Dame Dame Magdalene Odundo will present her first solo exhibition in the UK since her 2019 The Survey of Kings at The Hepworth Wakefield and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

Antony Gormley: Time Horizon from Sunday, April 21 to Thursday, October 31, 2024

Magdalene Odundo from Sunday, May 21 to Sunday, September 29, 2024

Compton Verney, Warwickshire

Sculpture in the Park

Compton Verney, a beautiful Grade I listed mansion built by Robert Adam, is set in 120 acres designed by Capability Brown. The grounds are now graced by a sculpture park which opened in March 2024 with works by contemporary artists including UK-based artists Sarah Lucas and Permindar Kaur, British-Ghanian artist Larry Achiampong, London-based French artist Nicolas Deshayes and Lithuanian artist Augustas. The grouping of the sculptures is inspired by Compton Verney’s history and setting yet also challenges the idea of the 18th century landscape design as a form of ‘utopia’.

Two legendary sculptors are also featured – French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), best known for her monumental spider sculptures, and Turner Prize-nominated British artist Helen Chadwick (1953-1996).

Open from March 21, 2024 to Sunday May 2, 2027

(Image: Louise Bourgeois SPIDER, 1996 installed at Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, NY in 2007 Christopher Burke, © The Easton Foundation Licensed by DACS, UK)

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, Horsham, West Sussex

Art Walk 2024

One of the UK’s finest woodland gardens showcases the ‘Walk of Life’ exhibition by South African sculptor, Anton Smit, as well as a new Art Walk for 2024. The Art Walk features sculptures by local artists in a materials ranging from bronze, resin, glass, metal, wood, stone, ceramic and found objects. The trail winds down to seven lakes and there is a return shuttle service. In 2019, Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens opened after a closure of 10 years after the 240-acre Grade I listed garden saw the largest garden restoration in England and possibly Europe.

Open March 31 to October 27, 9am-5pm and winter season October 29-March 30, 9am-4pm.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Female focus

The park’s 2024 programme is driven by international women artists, featuring Ugandan/US artist Leilah Babirye’s first museum solo exhibition and eminent artist Bharti Kher, who was born in the UK and now lives and works in the UK and India. Babirye’s work will be shown in the Chapel and Kher’s in the Underground Gallery and outdoors.

In The Weston Gallery, see an archive exhibition of works by Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930 – 1993), an early supporter of Yorkshire Sculpture Park as the UK’s national sculpture park.

Open daily at 10am (autumn/winter November 6 –24 March 24, closed Mondays and 24–25 December.

Woolbeding Gardens, West Sussex

Heritage flowers: Kinetic Glasshouse and Silk Route Garden

On the edge of the National Trust’s Woolbeding Gardens, part of an historic estate in Midhurst, is Heatherwick Studio’s kinetic Glasshouse. This unfolding structure is the focal point of a new garden that reveals how much the ancient Silk Route has influenced today’s British gardens.

It features 10 steel ‘sepals’ which take four minutes to open, creating an immense crown shape. On warm days, the Glasshouse opens its ‘sepals’ to allow the plants access to sun and ventilation while in colder weather the structure remains closed providing shelter to a collection of subtropical species.

Open Thursdays and Fridays from April 18 to September 29, 10.30am-4.30pm.


Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Baroon Hill, St Ives, Cornwall

'Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic’, wrote Barbara Hepworth. ‘Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space'.

Most of the bronzes are in the positions where Hepworth placed them in the garden laid out by the artist with help from a friend, the composer Priaulx Rainier.

Hepworth came to live in Cornwall with her husband Ben Nicholson and their young family at the outbreak of war in 1939. She lived and worked in Trewyn studios, now the Barbara Hepworth Museum, from 1949 until her death in 1975.

Open daily 10am-5.20pm.

Godinton House & Gardens, Ashford, Kent

Sculpture in the Garden exhibition

Leave the world behind at Godinton House & Gardens, a hidden gem in the Kent countryside which hosts an annual exhibition of contemporary art in the 12-acre gardens.

The sculptures in glass, ceramics, stone, glass and steel are available to buy and dotted around the formal gardens which feature a large water lily pond, a rose garden and twin borders edged by one of the most iconic yew hedges in the country designed by Edwardian architect Sir Reginald Blomfield.

Runs from Saturday, July 20 to Sunday, August 11, 1pm to 6pm.


(Image: Thoth by Simon Gudgeon)


Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset

Sculptor Simon Gudgeon, whose work ‘Serenity’ can be seen near the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, London, displays his work and that of guest artists sculpture across 26 acres, with the River Frome running along the edge of the landscape.

This oasis for art lovers and collectors makes for a wonderful day out to see an outstanding collection of international artists exhibiting sculpture, paintings and handmade prints in the largest exhibition space in Dorset.

Adults and children over 14 only. Open Tuesday to Saturday from April 2, 2024, 10am to 5pm.



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