National Trust for Scotland backs campaign to protect Edinburgh sculpture park from housing ‘threat’

The National Trust for Scotland has warned that allowing housing to be built beside an acclaimed outdoor sculpture park on the outskirts of Edinburgh would "destroy the magical environment created there."

Antony Gormley's Firmament sculpture is one of the most popular works of art at Jupiter Artland.
Antony Gormley's Firmament sculpture is one of the most popular works of art at Jupiter Artland.

New chief executive Philip Long said the prospect of more than 2000 homes on the doorstep of Jupiter Artland posed a serious threat to the future of what he described as one of Scotland's "most precious cultural assets."Long, previously director of V&A Dundee, hailed the "open-air museum - created by art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson in the 100-acre grounds of their home near Ratho - as "a unique cultural experience of national significance."

Mr Long, appointed figurehead of Scotland’s biggest conservation charity in July, has spoken out after Jupiter Artland’s founders, art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson, launched a campaign to prevent land near Jupiter Artland from being earmarked for new housing.

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Campaign launched to 'protect' Edinburgh sculpture park from huge green belt hou...
Philip Long was appointed chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland in April. Picture: Jeff Holmes

It has already secured the back of Antony Gormley, one of the artists who has created work for Jupiter Artland, and crime writer Ian Rankin, a regular visitor with his family.

A vast site at Calderwood is one of five greenbelt areas proposed for possible new housing by the city council – a move that the couple claim would deter artists from working in the landscape at Jupiter Artland.

Mr Long said: "Every work is produced especially for its site, and the exceptional nature of what is there (from the quiet to the spectacular) is a result of the insight of Robert and Nicky Wilson, and their care of the artists they have been so successful in attracting.

"As a result, the park (open to the public from the beginning) has been a must-see for very many thousands, who have been able to enjoy and be inspired by this place within Edinburgh’s city boundary.

"Without doubt, it is a designed landscape and unique cultural experience of national significance.

“Since 1947 and the advent of the International Festival, Edinburgh has set out to establish itself as a world-centre for cultural tourism, and this has contributed to its economy ever since.

“It is concerning then to learn that what has been created could now be threatened by the city itself.

"The importance of long-term planning to support our housing need is vital, and sustainability and appropriate design for the location which adds value to local communities should underpin decision making. ‘Calderwood’ does not satisfy sustainability criteria and, most seriously, is a threat to what has quickly become one of our most precious cultural assets, created through private dedication and available to us all.

“It would surround Jupiter Artland with housing, destroying the magical environment which draws admiration and visitors from around the world.”

Mr Long suggested the impact of the pandemic on society was even more reason for Jupiter Artland to be protected.

He added: “The health crisis we continue to face forces us indoors, requires us to live a separate existence, and removes access to much of what enriches our lives.

"Not surprisingly, open-air, safe spaces have drawn ever greater numbers. The reasons for visiting Jupiter Artland are many, but if there is one thing it encourages us to think about in these times it is the priceless relationship we have with our most accessible natural and cultural landscapes.”

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