Art set to transform Fountains’ follies

Simon Costin ' one of the artist's whose work will be featured at the Folly! exhibition at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. (Credit ' Tim Walker)
Simon Costin ' one of the artist's whose work will be featured at the Folly! exhibition at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. (Credit ' Tim Walker)

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden has opened up its 18th century folly buildings to some of the country’s most inventive theatre set designers, directors and artists.

Folly! will see the temples and follies of the World Heritage Site and National Trust property near Ripon transformed from their original uses to places of visual trickery and untold histories between Saturday, April 25 to Sunday, November 29.

The original designers of the Studley Royal Water Garden – the Aislabie family – created many follies on the vast estate to surprise and delight their 18th century guests.

Visitors who seek the Octagon Tower, Temple of Fame, Banqueting House and Temple of Piety this summer will get the chance to see installations created by 21st century artists in response to the buildings’ opulent past.

Twelve artists put forward ideas and three were chosen: theatre designer Gary McCann, art director, curator and designer Simon Costin, and artist, curator and academic Irene Brown.

Alexa Morton, visitor experience and marketing manager at the National Trust site, said: “We know that visitors come to enjoy the abbey but the water garden often gets overlooked.

“The installations inside the follies this year will be a must-see that captures everyone’s imagination.

“We’re really excited by the works the artists have proposed, we’re keeping them under wraps for now and all will be revealed later this month – we know that visitors will be astonished.”

Folly! is part of Trust New Art. The National Trust has been working with living artists since the 1980s, and in 2009 created Trust New Art in partnership with Arts Council England.

The programme makes contemporary arts available in National Trust properties, builds new and diverse audiences and offers new opportunities to artists to work in new contexts.

Folly! runs from Saturday, April 25 to Sunday, November 29 and has been developed in partnership with Arts&Heritage for the National Trust at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden.