Throughout my travels, I have seen plenty of “art in the landscape” but for now, I am going to stick with the relatively modern man-made ones. They can take on many forms and be interpreted in many ways some of which can be highly controversial. If I recall correctly I believe only one of those I have included came into that category although as everyone has become use to its presence those that spoke against it have become less vocal. See if you can guess which one it is. I’m starting in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast and a work that was dedicated to Benjamin Britten, one of the twentieth century’s most important composers who spent much of his life there. The inspiration he drew from the area is most notable in the famous ‘Four Sea Interludes’ from his opera Peter Grimes. The violinist Yehudi Menuhin once commented, “If wind and water could write music, it would sound like Ben’s.” In late 2003, a striking tribute to Britten and his music was unveiled on the beach just north of Aldeburgh. “Scallop” – a four-metre high steel sculpture which was conceived by Suffolk-born artist Maggi Hambling, and made by local craftsmen Sam and Dennis Pegg.
The phrase “I hear those voices that will not be drowned” (from Peter Grimes) is pierced through the steel, to be read against the sky. Images of wings rising in flight, swimming fish and the ripple of waves are all suggested by the work, whose scallop forms also recall ancient symbols of pilgrimage, Venus and the sea.
Some of you may not class the next two as art at all but as I said at the beginning it can take on many forms and in these instances, it becomes religious and then a war memorial. For the religious one, we visit the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides to see the like of which I have not come across before at least at the height it is positioned. Castlebay on the island is overlooked by Ben Heaval, which rises 1260 feet behind the town and forms the highest point on the island. From here, there are spectacular views over the bay and beyond to Vatersay, Sandray, Pabbay, Mingulay and Berneray. High on the steep southern slopes of Heaval stands “Our Lady of the Sea” a marble statue of the Madonna and child, symbolising the Islanders main religious faith.
For the war memorial, we stay in Scotland but return to the mainland on the shores of Loch Lomond. Since 1995, the area around Ben Lomond, including the mountain summit, has been designated as a war memorial, called the Ben Lomond National Memorial Park. The park is dedicated to those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars. This granite sculpture created by Doug Cocker, which sits amidst the Rowardennan landscape acts as a particular focal point for the park as it frames and is framed by the landscape. The memorial is a focus however it draws your eye through it and around it to see the mountains and the Loch.
For the final artwork, for now, we are back in England and the North York Moors National Park. The Millennium Stone is just off the Ralph’s Cross – Rosedale Abbey road, a true modern megalith raised in the spirit of all the many prehistoric standing stones found across the North Yorkshire Moors. The stonemason was Mike Weatherill of nearby Danby. If I hadn’t told you I suspect that many of you would not have realised how recent it was.
Maybe in a future post, we can visit other forms of “art in the landscape”?