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Phyllida Barlow’s feat of engineering for Jupiter Artland’s tenth birthday

Joana Vasconcelos, who is showing a giant stiletto at the Edinburgh venue, will launch her on-site swimming pool next year

Quarry by Phyllida Barlow, unveiled at Jupiter Artland Gareth Harris

Women are making waves at Jupiter Artland, the sculpture park and gallery located near Edinburgh which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. The founders, Robert and Nicky Wilson, have over the past decade commissioned 35 site-specific works by artists such as Cornelia Parker and Antony Gormley; the pieces are dotted around 120 acres of woodlands and meadows. Phyllida Barlow, who represented the UK at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and Joana Vasconcelos of Portugal are the latest artists to join the stable.

Phyllida Barlow’s Quarry piece is her first permanent outdoor commission, comprising three parts: two trunk-like columns and a concrete ziggurat-style piece. “I wanted to make something that would give the audience the performative role of looking up. There is also this idea of meddling with nature, and also having empathy with it. There is also the fragility of nature, which is held in the arms of these structures,” Barlow says.

Foundations for the piece were dug two metres into the ground. “The steel innards are very beautiful things in themselves,” she adds. “It’s like bone and flesh.” Handing over control to fabricators, who help produce large and technically difficult works, also proved challenging, she says.

Meanwhile, Vasconcelos’s solo show (Gateway; 12 May-30 September) includes signature works made from knitted fabrics (Valkyrie#3, 2004) and a ginormous stiletto made from stainless steel pans and lids (Carmen Miranda, 2008). “The model is Marilyn Monroe’s shoe. Women have to cook and wear high heels—how can they do this today?” Vasconcelos says.

All of the works explore femininity. “Fabrics are meant to protect and decorate; I’m bringing the domestic world into the public world. It’s a way of saying that women can be warriors and fighters,” she adds.

Joana Vasconcelos sits inside Té Danzante (2018) Gareth Harris

But her plan to build a functional swimming pool at the site has been delayed for a year. The nine-metre long pool, a sculptural installation, will be built within the Italian Garden and decorated with tiles displaying zodiac symbols. “We are painting the tiles by hand which will take a few more months. It’s a very complex project as we’ve had to adapt the tiles for the icy weather,” the artist says.

Jupiter Artland is a non-profit registered charity. Robert Wilson is the chairman and co-owner of Nelsons, a homeopathic healthcare company established in 1860. Earlier this year, he was appointed chair of the arts funding body Creative Scotland.

Nicky Wilson (left), Joana Vasconcelos and Phyllida Barlow Gareth Harris
More NewsTopicsSculptureEdinburghAntony GormleyJupiter ArtlandPhyllida BarlowJoana Vasconcelos