Artists plead for Edinburgh’s ‘open-air museum’ to get green belt reprieve

A host of Britain's biggest artists have issued an 11th-hour plea for an award-winning Scottish sculpture park to be protected from new housing developments or risk it being "compromised forever".

Antony Gormley's Firmament is one of the most popular works of art at Jupiter Artland. Picture: Allan Pollok-Morris

Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Nathan Coley, Calum Innes and Alison Watt have signed an open letter urging Edinburgh City Council to protect greenbelt land around Jupiter Artland.

A year after a campaign was launched to thwart what was branded “Edinburgh’s least sustainable development”, some of the open-air museum’s most high-profile supporters have pleaded for a rethink over proposals which could see 2,000 new homes built on surrounding countryside.

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Andy Goldsworthy, Alberta Whittle, Peter Liversidge, Pablo Bronstein, Sara Barker, Nathan Coley, Henry Castle and Shane Waltener are among the other figures from the art world to sign the open letter, which has been sent to the council ahead of a crunch meeting on the future of greenbelt sites across the city.

A campaign was launched last year to protect Jupiter Artland from new housing being built nearby. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

They have warned councillors that if they give the green light for housing to be built at Calderwood, they will "effectively be destroying the very thing that has made Jupiter so unique".

The open letter states: “For the last 15 years, Jupiter Artland’s mission has been to bring world-class artists to Scotland.

“The invitation extended to artists is unlike any other– to create an artwork that resonates with nature, the place and the landscape.

“Jupiter has become a must see for locals and international visitors alike, who have been able to enjoy and be inspired by this unique artland within Edinburgh’s boundary.

Tracey Emin is among the artists fighting to protect the green belt around Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh.

"If the city council allows the surrounding landscape to be built on, they will effectively be destroying the very thing that has made Jupiter so unique, so special and that artists and visitors alike love to respond to.”

The open letter has also been signed by crime writer Ian Rankin, who has thrown his weight behind the campaign mounted by Jupiter Artland’s founders, Robert and Nicky Wilson, who spent several years commissioning bespoke works of art for the grounds of their 100-acre estate near Wilkieston in west Edinburgh.

The estate has attracted more than a million visitors since the grounds were opened to the public.

The open letter adds: “Housing can go anywhere. Jupiter Artland cannot.

“More than 100,000 visitors come here every year because of the beauty of the landscape and the escape into a magical world of art. If there’s housing right up to the edges of this designed landscape, Jupiter will be compromised forever.

“As artists, we thrive on the nurturing and creative environment, the landscape and the opportunity that it brings us to discover something unexpected. We ask you to protect the landscape that holds this for us.”

Ms Wilson said: “Jupiter is at a critical moment in its existence.

“A titanic battle has been raging over the last year against the proposal of another 2,000 houses being built to enrobe Jupiter.

“We’re not against housing – we understand that it’s in chronic shortage. We already have large amounts of new housing around us that we’ve not complained about, but the latest tranche will be very close and very visible.

"It’s also miles away from a bus stop, any trunk roads and shops, meaning that it will be only for car owners and will be be entirely unsustainable."

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