Antony Gormley, whose "Firmament" sculpture of a human figure is one of the most popular works of art at Jupiter Artland, has spoken out after the prospect of more than 2000 homes being built on nearby land was described by the attraction as a “significant threat” to its future.
Jupiter Artland’s owners say the construction of a major housing development would “rupture the peace” for visitors and deter artists from creating bespoke work for its natural landscape in future.
Gormley has described the attraction as a "unique and precious resource for the creativity of the future and the imagination of the present.”
The 70-year-old artist has called for the city council, which has identified five green belt sites for possible housing developments, to instead focus on "inner city brownfield sites."
Gormley, whose mysterious figures are also a popular attraction along the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, said a future housing blueprint for the city which could see more than 2000 homes built on neighbouring land was completely incompatible with the "open air" museum.
Jupiter Artland, which has been created on a 100-acre estate in west Edinburgh by art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson, has attracted more than a million visitors since it opened in 2009. It was shortlisted for the Art Fund’s coveted UK Museum of the Year title in 2016.
Other artists who have created works include Anish Kapoor, Phyllida Barlow, Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor, Christian Boltanski, Nathan Coley, Andy Goldsworthy and Jim Lambie.
In an exclusive interview, Gormley said: “What Robert and Nicky have created in Jupiter Artland is such as extraordinary gift, which has been done with such love and intense passion. It deserves to be fought for at every level.
"The idea that Jupiter Artland’s existence should be compromised by something that is almost the antithesis of what they stand for just seems to me to extraordinarily unjust.
“There's a brilliant connection there between very brave patronage, the commission of significant and often quite big and difficult works, and a commitment to create education.
"They are getting young people involved from a very early age with the idea of looking at works of art and then taking that experience and allowing that to be a catalyst for their own creativity. It is so inspiring.
"Jupiter Artland is a unique and precious resource for the creativity of the future and the imagination of the present. It is sustained proof of the continuum between nature and culture.”
Gormley added: “It is essential that green belt sites around cities are protected. They are not just the lungs of the city but the places where the tensions of a city are released.
"There are other post-industrial landscapes elsewhere in Edinburgh which could be built on.
"I am horrified by housing policies that, neither from an environmental sense or a design sense, are doing any better than the ‘Wimpey normal.’
“We should not be building in the countryside: the future of our species depends on high density housing on inner city brownfield sites.”