Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh
We recently received a call from someone looking to change careers and become a natural burial ground operator. His vision is to create a destination sculpture trail parkland similar to the little known Jupiter Artland on the western edge of Edinburgh. I wasn’t aware of Jupiter Artland and was keen to see what enthused him so much – so we visited to find out.
Immediately on arrival at the entrance to the Artland you know you are in for a treat – the front gates, designed by Ben Tindall, sparkle richly and invite you in. The driveway, initially flanked by woodland, opens up majestically into a spiralling, grassy, alien landform through which you drive. On through wildflower meadows, round the front of the 17th-century mansion house to a well concealed car park.
Set in the one hundred acre grounds, the artwork trail starts in the stable yard of the steadings where a shop, café and indoor gallery begin your experience. Out of the back door, the trail leads off into woodland where clearings feature remarkable works of art by well-known artists. We thoroughly enjoyed our two hour meander around the grounds and certainly recommend a visit.
The question is – does that environment offer what bereaved families seek from a natural burial ground? The answer is - no. The artistic richness certainly appeals, but the levels of activity by visiting families, groundsmen and staff are off-putting. The feedback we get most consistently says that people enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the surroundings at our natural burial grounds. They are places of escape from the hurly burly of everyday life.
What lessons can we learn from our visit? I think that art and sculpture can enrich the experience of a place, but that must not detract from its natural beauty. A sculpture trail and parkland needs paying visitors for economic sustainability, but at the cost of peacefulness. The mood of a burial ground is different from a visitor destination, and the mix wouldn’t work.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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