The leaves are fresh on the trees, the swifts have finally made it to the shores of the Forth and there have been brief intimations of a “heatwave” (I use this term advisedly) – all of which heralds the annual opening of Jupiter Artland for the summer season. There is more celebration in the air than usual, as this is the venue’s tenth anniversary.

Jupiter Artland has been a resounding success, the creation of a Scottish outdoor sculpture park by private individuals with public intent – every school in Scotland is invited to visit Nicky and Robert Wilson’s venture for free in a go-getting education programme. And this year, Jupiter Artland is trying to even out the social selection that happens when entry prices exclude some from the grounds with Pay What You Want Mondays.

Jupiter’s raison d’etre is contemporary sculpture and each year it stages two series of exhibitions in the summer, with one permanent commission a year. Past commissions have included Pablo Bronstein’s Gothic-Chinese pavilion The Rose Walk, Tania Kovat’s evocative water bottle-filled boathouse Rivers and Sara Barker’s ephemeral Separation in the Evening. With a swimming pool from Joana Vasconcelos – who takes over all the temporary exhibition spaces this summer – in the making for next year, you could be forgiven for thinking that they might be running out of space.

Certainly if all the works were as monumental as Phyllida Barlow’s Quarry, this year’s major permanent commission, one might start to worry. Part of the beauty of Jupiter is the expansive woody grounds with idyllic walks and sculptural works secreted throughout. Barlow’s works might be tucked away in a clearing, surrounded by tall trees, but once you spot them you couldn’t accuse them of standing back while others pushed themselves forward.

Barlow is no stranger to large-scale, not least her superb Tate Britain installation Dock, which filled the Duveen Galleries with a vast structure of scaffolding, pallets and polystyrene. Now in her 70s, she represented Britain at the Venice Biennale last year. Jupiter is her first outdoors commission.Quarry is a play on words looming at vast scale among the canopy, a short stroll from the Charles Jencks Lifeforms. Her monumental forms comprise two vast paint-spattered columns topped by gravity-defying metal hoops, like jaunty hats or angular quoits or an alien interpretation of a tree, and a stone-effect staging of steps, part Dartmoor tor, part ancient temple stairway. The hoops, if that is the word – and I strongly feel it is not – are precarious and weighty-looking things, made of rusting steel, defying gravity and all engineering good practice. As such they are ominous, inducing a certain nervousness, even as they pick out the sky like oversized and bent bubble blowers.

The “steps” too, are disconcerting things, broodingly monumental, teeteringly steep, desperately inviting for a scramble and yet not offering any easy suggestions for the initial leg-up (although, be warned, your children will have suggestions). The whole is like a bizarre quasi-religious relic of both past and future civilisations, a dumped theatrical set, a place of mythic ritual, of quarries dragged in among the real and fabricated trees, an unsettling meditation on mass and balance and instinct, with added graffiti.

Equally enamoured of a splash of bright, although the brights are the dominant force, is Portuguese artist Vasconcelos, whose vibrant sculpture uses and displaces traditional skills from her “factory” in Lisbon. With more than 50 makers employed on her works, she could be credited with singlehandedly keeping alive traditional skills, from lacework to ceramics, knitting to crochet.

On a screen in the miniature Dovecot, five women of different ages sit and knit or crochet in a variety of locations around Portugal, in an affecting work made this year

(Hand-Made, 2018). They sit, concentrating, laughing sometimes, skilled or otherwise, among some of Portugal’s fine baroque architecture in grand palaces, or old monuments, or on the battlements of a fortification with tourists wandering around them. Outside, a giant stiletto (Carmen Miranda) made of pots, pans and lids towers in front of the steps, a melding of stereotypes in a single conflicting mesh of form and material.

In the Ballroom, Vasconcelos’ Coracao Independente Vermelho (2005), a giant, brilliant red sculpture in the shape of a heart, hangs, gently rotating, made entirely of plastic spoons. In the Steadings Gallery, a large stuffed crochet form, part animal, part internal organ, part crazed crochet project, as cosily monumental in knitting terms as Barlow’s looming columns in the woods. Here, too, is Volupta, a ceramic tower of fishy gargoyles, tassels and more crochet, clashingly coloured, both the embodiment and antithesis of historic public square sculpture.

All in, a series of new works very much worth the entry fee.

Jupiter Artland: Phyllida Barlow/Joana Vasconcelos, Bonnington House Steadings, Wilkieston, Edinburgh, 01506 889900,, until Sep 30, daily 10am-5pm, £8.50/£4.50, concessions available. Phyllida Barlow in conversation, Jun 23, 2pm, £12/£4.50, members free

Critics Choice:

Perth Concert Hall is the venue for this

first UK solo showing of pioneering Dutch

video artist Madelon Hooykaas, who has

been making innovative work since the

1960s. Hooykaas was born in Rotterdam

in 1944, trained in Paris and moved briefly

to New York, before seminal travel in

Japan which led to her first photographic

book. Now in her 70s, and still very

much active as an artist – she

made a new work in Perth at

the opening of the

exhibition this week – her

recent work is shown at

the Threshold exhibition

space in the concert hall.

Hooykaas spent much of

her career working with

Scottish artist Elsa Stansfield,

as part of Stansfield/Hooykaas,

until Stansfield’s unexpected death in

2004. Her preoccupations as an artist are

nature and memory, mindfulness, loss

and abstraction, rooted in her own interest

in Zen Buddhism. In 2017, she visited

Perth to explore ideas of walls, real and

virtual, rooted in the city’s fortified history.

These recent works, much of which is

inspired by the idea of walls and cities –

many of which have been acquired for the

Threshold museum collection in Perth –

include her “performative drawing”,

pictured below, in which in live

performances, shown on a loop here, she

draws in charcoal over projected film to

“stimulate regeneration” and healing in

cities in which the balance between the

people who live in it and the people who

visit it has become too strongly

skewed towards the visitors.

There is a vaporetto (water

bus) tour of Venice seen

through the hazing

screen of the bus

windows and a Zen

Buddhist inspired

documentary exploring

light, memory, vision and

mind. You can also buy your

own limited edition print of her

work, available exclusively at


Madelon Hooykaas: Virtual Walls/Real

Walls, Threshold Artspace, Perth Concert

Hall, Mill Street, Perth, 01738 621 031,, until 26 July,

Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm (late on

performance nights), curator’s tours May

23 and June 6 and 27

Don't Miss

Last chance to catch this winningly shonky

exchibition from London’s Hayward Gallery

courtesy of artist curator John Walter.

Finding joy and enlightenment in the

unpolished and unexpected, this is a show

in which poetry, sculpture, architecture and

installation conspire, from the tree-infested

Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna to Walter’s

own Shonky Bar that greets visitors.

Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness.

DCA, 152 Nethergate, Dundee, 01382 432

444,, until 27 May, daily

10am-6pm, Thurs until 8pm