The National Trust property of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is stunningly beautiful and it is a World Heritage Site. It receives about 600,000 visitors each year. There are so many reasons to visit this property. From now until November 4th there is an extra reason to visit.
Working with support of the Trust New Art, Arts Council England, the North Yorkshire Society of Architects with funding from the West Yorkshire Society of Architects, The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, Stage One, RIBA, and James E. Smith Northern, the National Trust has added four brilliant Follies to the grounds of Studley Royal. These four striking outdoor artworks re-imagine the lost follies that once stood in this dramatic place.
When we toured Studley Royal yesterday we were impressed by the amount of thought and research that had been done to produce these works. They cause you to stop, to think, to imagine and to enjoy. Each is placed carefully in an appropriate and relevant location. Each is provided with an interpretive sign which tells of the inspiration of the work. A display in the Banqueting House provides more detail, but more importantly calls for comments and feedback. We looked at the feedback cards which visitors had posted. Almost everyone was positive and enthusiastic. We talked to other visitors and again the feedback was positive. Visitors were engaged (turned the handle on the camera obscura which is built in to Polly the Parrot, listened intently to the sounds from the Listening Tower at the Bathing House and took photos from all angles at the Gazing Ball).
From a trust perspective this exhibition is brilliant. It engages visitors, it brings new visitors, it educates about the follies that were present in this garden and in so many others from the period and it is simply a lot of fun. There will always be those who object to anything new but they are certainly few and far between. To those I would say: “Remember this is an exhibit for only 8 months. Enjoy it. Isn’t that what follies are and always were for?”
We think it is brilliant!