We were lucky enough to be invited for a sneak preview of the new folly! installation at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal this week. The new follies are a great addition to the water gardens and families will love exploring the new structures. Children will be able to follow the trail to discover the follies, answering questions along the way.
Running from 28th April to 4th November, the exhibition will feature a cloud, a listening tower to transport you back 250 years, a huge glass lens, reflecting images from the outside to inside the folly and a shiny sphere to help you see things in a new way – don’t forget to send in your pictures of what you see to the team at Fountains Abbey.
Now in its third year at Fountains Abbey, the interactive art installation folly! encourages visitors to explore the water garden as it was originally intended; as a site of play and intrigue with dramatic views that criss-cross the landscape. The Georgian water garden is dotted with follies, fanciful structures designed to catch the eye, and for folly! 2018, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal invited artists to design new art works, or modern-day follies, that are now installed where original 18th century follies have been lost from the landscape.
Justin Scully, General Manager at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal comments:
“The new artworks continue the great 18th century tradition of follies in landscape gardens; catching the eye and surprising visitors to the garden. This year is the 300th anniversary of Studley Royal and what better way to mark this milestone than by re-imagining the garden’s lost follies through the eyes of some of the UK’s most interesting artists and architects. We hope that over the next few months visitors will see their favourite views and corners of the water garden in new, playful and enlightening ways.”
Polly, by Charles Holland
This colourful and ornate 9m tall tower, affectionately nick-named ‘Polly’, evokes the playful structures of 18th century picturesque gardens as well as the exotic flora and fauna they often featured. Its form is reminiscent of an exotic bird and its timber shingle cladding has been painted in a mix of opulent colours to suggest a parrot’s plumage. The ‘head’ of the tower features a camera obscura which projects new, focussed views of the water garden within the interior. The fantastical installation is also visible from ‘Surprise View,’ the most famous vista in the World Heritage Site, appearing in the landscape alongside the majestic ruins of Fountains Abbey.
Gazing Ball, by Lucy + Jorge Orta
‘Gazing Ball’, located on the Banqueting House lawn, offers a dazzling reflection of the moon ponds and mirrored waters of Studley Royal. The 4m tall pentagonal steel sculpture has multiple windows of different shapes, referencing architectural details of the Rotundo, a classical Ionic folly formerly found on the site, presenting picture-perfect framed views across the gardens to the gothic Octagon Tower opposite. The sculpture is crowned by a chrome sphere which catches the light and plays with the reflected views of the water garden.
The Listening Tower, by Fleafolly
‘The Listening Tower’ has been inspired by a stone bath house folly that was fed by the nearby spring until the mid-1800s. A striking 3m tall white tower topped with a copper water collector, the tower repeats the noises of dripping water. Using internal trumpets to amplify and transmit the sounds, it tempts garden explorers to interact with the listening tower, hearing the echoes of the long-lost Bathing House.
The Cloud, by Foster Carter
11-year-old Foster Carter won a competition run in partnership with the North Yorkshire Society of Architects to design a fourth folly! and inspire a new generation of architects. Picked from over 1,800 entries, Foster’s design, ‘The Cloud’, is situated next to the Silver Pond in the water garden, and uses a 4.2m wood frame to hold up a ‘cloud’ that will ‘rain’ on visitors. Perfect on a hot summer day. To find out more about the design read our blog here.
folly! is part of ‘Trust New Art’, a partnership between the National Trust and Arts Council England.