Gallows double as climbing frame at Jupiter Artland

The 51ft-tall scaffold is deliberately sited at a high point in Jupiter Artland to command spectacular views. Picture: Jane Barlow
The 51ft-tall scaffold is deliberately sited at a high point in Jupiter Artland to command spectacular views. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A MASSIVE sculpture inspired by America’s history of capital punishment is to become the latest feature at Scotland’s multi-million-pound sculpture park.

Children and adults will be encouraged to clamber over Los Angeles artist Sam Durant’s “eco-friendly climbing frame” at Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh Airport.

A series of five reconstructed gallows are built on top of and into each other to form a single work of art, which the artist describes as his statement against the death penalty.

It has been installed to help mark the fifth season at Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park set up by Robert and Nicky Wilson in the grounds of their Jacobean mansion at Kirknewton.

The grounds have become home to works by Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Jim Lambie, Nathan Coley, Charles Jencks, Cornelia Parker and Ian Hamilton Finlay.

The new work, simply entitled Scaffold, has been sited at the highest point in the apple orchard to the east of Bonnington House, which commands spectacular views of the Pentland Hills.

Durant says the work has been deliberately constructed to resemble a 1970s adventure playground feature and to appeal to children, to address long-running concerns over the notorious “school-to-prison pipeline” in the United States.

Among the executions the various gallows are said to depict are those of John Brown, a militant abolitionist who was captured after leading an anti-slavery revolt in Virginia in 1859, and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, in 2006.

Scaffold, which is 51ft tall and 14ft wide, is the first major temporary work of art to go on display at Jupiter Artland since it opened in 2008.

More than a million people visited the piece last year when it was exhibited as part of German’s vast Documenta arts festival, which is held every five years in the city of Kassel.

It took about two weeks to construct at Jupiter Artland after being shipped from Germany.

The work will be going on display beside the International Criminal Court at The Hague, in the Netherlands, in the autumn after its run in Edinburgh, from next Saturday until 15 September.

Seattle-born Durant, who has just launched a solo show in London, said: “It’s really a commentary on the whole history of the criminal justice system in the United States, and the fact that the death penalty still exists, unlike other parts of the world like Europe.

“That’s part of the reason it’s relevant to show it in Germany and Scotland, but I hope it can also be show in the US one day.

Susanna Beaumont, guest curator at the park, said: “I saw Scaffold in Documenta myself last year and just thought it would be perfect for Jupiter Artland.”