Sculptures by the lake - Art In Dorset
What I loved about it:
When you want to escape the hustle and bustle of life, a visit to Sculptures by the lake is the perfect oasis of peace and tranquility, I love the hidden seating where you can sit quietly and take in the birdsong, changing scenery and of course the stunning sculptures. I also love that every time you visit the experience is different. I always feel recharged after spending time in this beautiful and relaxing location.
Value for money (out of 10):
Stunning art nestled within the beautiful Dorset countryside
Anyone who knows me will understand why I love visiting Sculptures by the lake as it is the perfect place for taking wonderful photos, one of my favourite pastimes. Here you will find truly unique and magnificent sculptures set within 26 acres of nature. So when I was invited to come and visit their new show Form – featuring award winning sculptures I jumped at the chance.
You would hardly believe you were just a few miles from the busy Dorset town of Dorchester, as you approach the lakes you really feel transported into a complete state of calm and serenity. An annual wellness event is hosted here and you can really understand why.
As you wander round the beautiful lakes you will see both dramatic and natural sculptures in all forms. Some tucked away within lush foliage, just peeping out to entice you to investigate further and some unapologetically owning their place standing proud, stopping you in your tracks to just admire and capture your own image.
The brainchild of Simon Gudgeon a celebrated sculptor and his wife Monique this ever evolving experience at sculpture by the lake can capture the hearts of all that visit, I was not a self-confessed art lover if I’m honest until I discovered this unusual and captivating place, the sculptures come to life in the soft and natural setting and the immense talent of those that have created the spectacular pieces really fill you with awe.
Simon creates both abstract and figurative sculptures and one of my all-time favourites is ‘Leaf Spirit’ a figurative and beautiful sculpture which is said to induce a sense of calm. It is made from imprints of leaves found at Sculpture by the Lakes and I find just breathtaking. I have seen this sculpture in various places during my visits and she currently pops out at you from amongst the hedging at the far end of the lake, as the seasons evolve and develop this sculpture seems to take this in and evolve with the changing colours and foliage.
Unlike a painting, you have all your senses stimulated at once, you can take in the beauty with your eyes, touch the various textures – rustic, cold, smooth and bumpy, smell the freshly cut grass and scent of seasonal flowers, and hear the birds chirping, bees buzzing and ducks chatting to each other as they bob around the lakes.
On arrival and parking in their onsite carpark it is a short stroll into their inviting entrance, here you are greeted by the most magnificent sculpture ‘Greer’ Guardian Angel by the super gifted, creative and award winning Ed Elliott. Taking pride of place this master piece welcomes you literally with open arms or wings in his case. Reflections in water are mesmerising and this outstanding piece doesn’t disappoint, with his wings spread this angel really seems like he is here to guide you and watch over you.
Moving on from ‘Greer” if you can, you will find everything you need at both the start and end of your visit at the entrance. The toilets with disabled access are situated here and you will not find any others during your walk around the sculptures.
If you have travelled some distance then you can grab yourself a coffee or bite to eat in their Café by the lakes, they serve delicious locally sourced lunches, including home grown produce from their very own kitchen garden, and who can resist a sumptuous homemade cake?
Brand new on this visit is the Artisan’s Pantry, as the title says stocking a great selection of artisan food and drink from Dorset’s finest producers and suppliers. You can be sure that whatever you will choose it will be fresh and delicious and not a soggy sandwich in sight. I love that there is a real focus of local here with a strong emphasis on healthier alternatives to the usual shop bought mass produced foods. There is something to suit everyone though with pies and sausage rolls also on offer too – only difference is these are locally produced..
Alongside is the Artisans Bazaar – an inviting colourful array of merchandise from craftsman and artisans alike. The gallery is also situated in this entrance area but I’ll come back to that later.
Once refreshed (you can come back to have a drinks/eats at any point) you enter the 26 acres and all that Sculptures by the lake encompasses, don’t be put off as it might sound like a lot of walking but you can get around and see everything in about an hour and a half, obviously that will depend on how long you spend taking in the beauty and reading up about each sculpture, each has its own QR code that you can scan and find out all about, so you could also easily spend all day here.
There are plenty of seating areas dotted around on your route around the lakes so if you are of limited mobility or just want to sit and absorb the tranquility then you are well catered for.
If you really want a special experience there are a number of exclusive areas that you can hire out for the day, imagine all of the above but with complete privacy in your very own escape from it all place.
You can choose from the River Keepers Hut – A snug hideaway for four situated on the edge of the river as its name suggests. and boasting a lovely outdoor picnic area and cosy indoor space with a log burner costing £50 to hire.
The Island – imagine walking across a small bridge on Rainbow Lake to find hidden in total seclusion your own pavilion for six housing restful seating, a dining table and wood burning stove so even on a chilly day you can relax here and stay warm and cosy, and The Pavilion – situated on the edge of the Artist’s Pool, and accepting up to 8 people you can enjoy your very own floating platform with opulent comfy sofas, perfect for a special celebration to share with your nearest and dearest. It has an indoor dining table ideal for your get together. Both of the larger venues cost £100 to hire.
I can imagine that this would be one the most relaxing of days you might have spent for a long time. A freshly made picnic can be pre ordered and delivered to your choice of hideaway.
If you are looking for a venue for a larger party or event then you can hire out The Retreat, available for up to 60 people for lunch and up to 100 for a drinks reception. Contact for details.
Beautiful and inspiring gardens in Dorset
Adjacent to the sculpture park, you can find the busy and productive kitchen gardens where you can see an abundance of produce growing and used within the Sculptures by the Lake Café and Monique’s enchanting garden that she has cultivated over ten years featuring and showcasing her love of gardening and plants, shrubs and flowers.
Of course the garden here wouldn’t be complete without some smaller sculptures peeping out amongst the shrubbery. I love the contrast between this lovingly cared for garden and the more natural wildness of the lakes. I’m sure many keen gardeners will take great inspiration for their own gardens from Monique’s vision. As I am not particularly green fingered for me it is a paradise that I can only dream about having at home.
At the time of writing April 2022, The Form Sculpture Show is available until the end of May 2022 so if you are reading this after this time, there will be something else taking its place, new sculptures to see and new plants blossoming into life.
Here at Sculptures by the Lake many events take place throughout the year, so sign up for their mailing list or check out the latest updates on their events section of the website.
On this year’s list is a Fire and Food Festival, Fire and Food nights where you can sample a six course tasting menu costing £75 per person in the newly founded outdoor kitchen and Bent Copper Bar. On the menu will be a selection of mouthwatering meats and fish from local suppliers paired with a selection of wines, beers and ciders.
A night spent with good friends around a crackling fire, eating delicious food and soaking up the atmosphere sounds totally divine and something to brag about when you’re back at work again on Monday. Simon created this himself and even gets involved in the cooking – a man of many talents for sure!
Throughout the summer months Live Music events take place at the centre of the park with an eclectic range of genres so take your pick to suit your taste.
Feeling arty? Dorset Arts Festival takes place for a week during the summer attracting over 60 artists, crafters and Dorset makers, pot throwing, painting, jewellery making to name but a few of the handiworks to be on show, and maybe inspire you to get your own creative juices flowing.
In line with the restfulness and general slow paced culture that Sculptures by the Lake is known for, Wellbeing By the Lakes is a plethora of mindfulness, meditation, healing and wellbeing activities ready to really take your experience of relaxation to another level. I went to last year’s event and had the most chilled out experience of a guided meditation session whilst on a flotation platform on one of the lakes. We took our places on the platform with cushions to rest upon and dangled our feet into the cooling water, lay back and let ourselves go to the pacifying sound of our instructor’s voice letting all our cares and worries float away.
After, we watched a display of graceful dance/yoga/gymnastics taking place on paddle boards that fascinated the crowd and the passing swans and ducks who were sharing their home with these performers for the day.
Keep an eye out for the details as the week varies year by ear and the timetable of events will change too. This is a very popular event so pre-booking is essential.
As you end your walk amongst the marvellous enchanting sculptures, you will pass the Sculpture courtyard home to some of the smaller sculptures and a few of my new favourites by the artistic and talented sculptor Jonathan Hateley. Originally sculpting models and effects in TV and Film he has moved on to create the figures on display which are graceful, and at one with nature and I absolutely adore them. These hand painted sculptures are produced in bronze and resin and have textures and colours that are just a perfect combination. Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder so I have mentioned specifically the sculptures that stand out to me and are my personal favourites but there are many others that are equally exquisite and will appeal to your own preference by equally skilled sculptors.
Don’t leave without viewing the local and international artists’ works in the Gallery By the Lakes featuring yet more exceptional pieces, maybe you might want to add one to your collection.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Sculptures by the Lake for anyone looking for a day of escape, tranquility and beauty. The park is clean, quiet and relaxing and you will leave feeling refreshed and re-energised a total escape from the noise and high tech world that we live in.
You can book directly from their website below, events and private hire are available for booking here too, and details of the sculptures and sculptors are listed for your information.
I hope this has inspired you to go and see Sculptures by the lakes for yourself, I’d love it if you let me know what you think.