Last updated on March 14th, 2020
The Out About Scotland complete guide to the Jupiter Artland sculpture park near Edinburgh
Category: Art gallery, Artwork, Gardens
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Tour groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 7 out of 10
About Jupiter Artland
I don’t know about you but I love getting surprises, whether it’s an unexpected birthday bash, a winning scratchcard or that rarest of treats, an extra chicken McNugget in my Saturday night munch box (who doesn’t love free McNuggets?).
So it was with great pleasure that I happened to stumble upon Jupiter Artland recently, a contemporary sculpture park near Edinburgh that gave me one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in a long time.
I wasn’t even purposefully going there as my original intention had been to take the A71 off the Edinburgh bypass and head in the direction of Livingston and its rather impressive shopping centre.
What stopped me from giving my credit card yet another unnecessary workout was a small sign near the junction of the B7015 that simply read ‘Jupiter Artland’, a statement that was intriguing enough to make me give up on my dreams of retail therapy for the day and go explore this previously unheard-of attraction instead.
What I found as I made my way through the entrance gate was a sprawling outdoor contemporary sculpture park where nature and man-made designs collide in a mesmerizing showcase of thought-provoking artworks.
Enormous landscaped mounds rise serpentine-like out of the ground in gently sweeping arcs separated by giant pools of water, while bizarre sculptures – some made from concrete, others from metal – can be glimpsed through the broad leaves of a thick woodland.
In the middle of the trees a grand stately home can be seen lording it up over the artworks and in the opposite direction wide-open fields of grass encircle the park interspersed with a variety of decorative trees and yet more sculptures.
It’s a surreal place to be sure, but it’s also utterly unique and it seems to have gone above-and-beyond in its efforts to bring modern art to family members of all ages, which I reckon is something that’s definitely worth applauding.
Things to do at Jupiter Artland
Jupiter Artland was founded just ten years ago by two art-loving philanthropists who were keen to provide a space for the public to see art and landscape sculptures.
To that end, the park was created inside 100 acres of meadow and woodland in the grounds of Bonnington House, a gorgeous 19th-century country house located 4 miles west of Edinburgh.
While the house is off-limits to the public the surrounding grounds are open to explore at your leisure, with the first sculpture ‘Love Bomb’ sited just a few yards from the car park.
This enormous 12-metre structure depicts the bizarre form of a modified orchid, impossibly vibrant in colour and looking for all the world like I’d expect a triffid to look if one suddenly stepped out of the pages of John Wyndhams ‘Day of the Triffids’
Love Bomb gives a good taste of what you can expect from a visit to Jupiter Artland because it’s so weird you can’t stop staring at it – just like the ‘Weeping Girls’ that you’ll find hiding in the woodland near the great house.
These sculptures all feature young girls in nightgowns, faces covered in thick matted hair, and to my mind they look like that freaky girl in the movie ‘The Ring’ and they’re genuinely creepy even in the middle of the day.
God only knows what it would be like walking through the woods late at night and stumbling into one of them.
You can probably guess by now that I’m no art critic but I can at least tell you what seeing Jupiter Artland’s sculptures is like from a layman’s perspective, and I have to be honest – I really enjoyed my visit.
You don’t need an appreciation of art to enjoy this visitor attraction because it’s such a nice place to be in, especially the Charles Jencks landforms, and I saw more than one family just sitting on the grass looking out over the pools of water to enjoy the warmth of the summer sun.
The landforms are the first thing you’ll see when you enter the park and they’re by far the largest sculptures on the site, although they’re possibly followed a close second by ‘Rivers’, a boathouse used to store specimens of water from all over the UK that’s set in an impossibly tranquil pond and country meadow.
Other sculptures include a sombre tended graveyard surrounded by concrete, and a coppiced wood where giant stones are suspended inside the limbs of trees, all of which are interspersed by smaller works that are guaranteed to make you stop for a little quiet contemplation.
All-in-all this attraction is a lovely diversion from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh and it has to be one of, if not the, best place to see modern art in southern Scotland.
While the National Gallery of Modern Art is worth a visit as well (and also features a landform sculpture by Charles Jencks) it’s a little bit stuffy compared to Jupiter Artland and obviously isn’t as nice to walk around when the sun’s shining, though it’s arguably easier to get to from the city centre.
That being said you could easily spend an entire afternoon at Jupiter Artland which would be helped no end by the fact that the on-site cafe is absolutely amazing and has some of the most delicious homemade cakes I’ve ever had the privilege of demolishing.
Unfortunately, the cafe closes for winter but opens again in May, which is when I suggest you visit anyway as it’s a little quieter than summer and the gardens are starting to explode with colour at that time of year.
There are exhibitions and special events held throughout the year so you’ll likely find something of interest whenever you decide to visit, but you might want to check the ‘What’s On‘ section of their website for times of up-and-coming talks, tours and workshops before you leave home.
What I liked about this attraction
- I can pretty much guarantee you won’t find anywhere else quite like this unusual visitor attraction.
- Jupiter Artland encourages art appreciation for children and there are frequent talks and workshops held on-site.
- You don’t need to be an art snob to enjoy these sculptures.
My top tips
- You’re not allowed picnics in the grounds but the cafe is excellent – though expensive. Go to the Livingston shopping centre if you want a cheaper meal.
- You can take the bus to get to the park (#27 from Edinburgh), but driving your own car is much faster.
- National Art Pass holders get in for almost half price.
Photos and video
Address and map
Bonnington House Steadings,
To get to Jupiter Artland you can either drive or take the bus. Buses are operated by First Group. Take the #27 from Regent Road or Haymarket station in Edinburgh.
If driving, follow the A71 towards Kilmarnock and turn right just past Wilkieston onto the B7015.
Click the map for directions
Prices and opening times
- Child (4-16): £4.50
- Concession (65 and over): £7.20
- 2 adults + 2 children: £22.50
Open every day Saturday 9th May to 27th September, from 10am to 5pm.
Telephone: 01506 889900
Website: Jupiter Artland
Getting there: Car park on-site.
Getting around: Disabled access, Easy-access paths, Pushchair access, Uneven paths.
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Cafe, Snacks, Toilets.