There is a magical place, right on our doorstep, which has been sprinkled with fairy dust. You will no doubt arrive stressed, tired and fed up with everyday life. But I promise you will leave relaxed, rejuvenated and revived. No it’s not a spa, it’s not a health retreat, it’s not even a romantic evening with Brad Pitt, it’s Sculpture by the Lakes, and it’s probably one of the best kept secrets in Dorset.
Nestled in 26 acres of Dorset’s finest countryside, Sculpture by the Lakes features the work of sculptor Simon Gudgeon, and is an oasis for art lovers and art collectors from all over the country. Upon hearing this description I wasn’t overly enthused given the fact that I know as much about art as Simon Cowell knows about nuclear physics. However it was listed number one on Trip Advisor’s list of Dorset attractions so I went to investigate, and I’m very glad I did.
To it’s complete benefit, Sculpture by the Lakes has a policy of booking your tickets in advance, you cannot just turn up on the day, and they only allow a certain number of customers in per day. This means that it will never be crowded and as their website states, “We allow people to take the time to properly absorb it, to leave their busy lives and step into ours, to have the time and the space to fully appreciate the experience.”.
As we drove up to the closed iron gates leading to what looked like a normal house I was slightly concerned that maybe we had just stumbled across an old lady who had created a website for the sole purpose of luring people to her home for company. However we were pleasantly surprised (and slightly relieved) to drive past the pretty house and down the stone covered driveway to what can only be described as heaven. We were met at the car by Monika, Simon’s very welcoming wife, who provided us with a map of the sculptures and left us to wander at our leisure.
Now, having said previously that I do not know much about the world of art, I must also confess that I have very little interest in it. For example, I spent quite a decent amount of time trying very hard to appreciate the majestic wooden statue holding a bright orange orb before realising it was an actual life ring to be used in case anyone fell into the lake. However, what I do appreciate is atmosphere, and this is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. Simon says of his work, “A sculpture, on a superficial level, must encapsulate beauty; it must uplift the spirit and enhance it’s surroundings”, and I completely agree. The sculptures are indeed beautiful, and instead of looking out of place, they take the beauty of the area to a completely different level, evoking a feeling and connection which would just not be there in a gallery setting.
There are no cafes or restaurants at the Lakes but visitors are encouraged to take their own picnics and use one of the many artistic and imaginative seating areas. We spent some time sat on the wooden veranda of a cute little hut with table and two chairs which looked jutted right out onto the lake. We then walked a little further round the lake to discover a lovely area with more table and chairs, sun loungers and to my absolute delight a bronze hanging ‘egg’ seat filled with comfortable cushions – I of course immediately jumped in. The seat looked out over yet another lake, with a beautiful sculpture of a bird rising out of the water in the middle, glistening in the sunlight. I smiled to myself as I closed my eyes and relaxed in peace and quiet for a good hour or so.
Whether you are an art lover or not, Sculpture by the Lakes is an undeniably magical place. There’s a thing of beauty round every corner, whether it’s a sculpture, a meaningful quote, or simply another stunning view of the lakes and plenty of places to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Of course it’s no substitute for a romantic evening with Brad Pitt but it comes close, pop a sculpture of Brad in there somewhere and you will truly have perfection!
Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington Lakes, Dorchester