Art in the Park
We know the world and his wife goes to Cornwall for the holidays but with places like Tremenheere to visit, who can blame them?
Tremenheere is a Sculpture Park. A visual delight. A garden of Eden.
Depending on when you go, you start your journey by winding through fields of daffodils, peonies or agapanthus being grown on the local farm. After a short while, the narrow, zig-zagging Cornish road reveals the entrance to a discreet car park surrounded by abundant planting and weathered standing stones. You feel you have arrived at a secret place far from the madding crowd.
Walk towards the contemporary timber and slate café, gift shop and plant nursery complex and the park opens up on the left with a gently sloping grassy hillside facing a glorious view of St. Michael’s mount floating on a hazy sea and a collection of impressive sculptures. Impressive in scale, variety and execution. Here you can ponder the sculptures or simply sit, eat, drink and admire the vista.
To the right, almost daring you to approach, is a shaded path. I would recommend that you definitely accept the challenge as this is where something really magical begins. The path follows a vibrant, bubbling channel of sparkling water rushing down the slope past you and a lush greenness envelopes you. As you snake your way deeper and higher into the unexpected forest, temperate flora gives way to a far more sub-tropical scene. Jurassic-sized tree ferns, banana trees, Agaves and Nesperas fill the hillside. Water is everywhere in the form of a myriad of streams, water-logged moss and deep, lily-covered pools filling the air with its scent, sound and life. Butterflies flutter and dragonflies dart from plant to plant and the modern world seems a million miles away.
Transported to this other world, the sculptures that line the route pop out like lost artefacts in an Indiana Jones film. Simultaneously at one with their surroundings and in complete juxtaposition, they demand your attention and allow you to slow your journey to contemplate and wonder. Internationally renowned artists such as Kishio Suga, David Nash and Richard Long have created this series of site-specific artworks in a range of materials, subjects and techniques appealing to all tastes.
Climbing above the canopy, sun-kissed gravelled terraces are home to super-sized succulents and a number of viewing platforms. Sit, catch your breath and reflect at your leisure.
The sculptures get larger as the hill top emerges and the really stand out feature here is an installation by American artist, James Turrell RA. Tewlwolow Kernow is one of his spectacular skyspaces – a room that frames a portion of the sky through a hole in the roof allowing for some serious contemplation of the moving clouds above and the movement of light along the walls. A truly beautiful space.
Meander back down the hillside passing more intriguing sculptures and exquisite plants and come back out of the woods onto the lush grass. Ahead of you is the oak-framed gallery that displays a regularly changing exhibition of paintings and small sculptural pieces by local, national and international artists. With two floors, it is one of the largest purpose-built galleries in Cornwall and well worth a look. A must for an arty day out.
A Brief History of the Garden
The hillside site was farmland for the monks of St. Michaels up until the Tremenheere family purchased it in the late 13th century. It stayed in the family for over 600 years and it was thanks to Seymour Tremenheere, who started the planting in the early 19th century, that the gardens began to take shape. The Sculpture Park that you can visit today is down to the vision of Neil Armstrong who has harnessed the natural rugged beauty of the area and worked to use its highly-favoured micro-climate to create a very special garden.