Follies reimagined with artwork

'Scavenger': a 3.6m crow made from metal and fibreglass by artist Gary McCann inside the Banqueting House folly.
'Scavenger': a 3.6m crow made from metal and fibreglass by artist Gary McCann inside the Banqueting House folly.

Visitors to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal near Ripon have been able to see the transformation of the World Heritage Site’s follies.

The exhibition – Folly! – which opened near the end of April has involved the buildings in Studley Royal’s water gardens being reimagined and brought to life through the vision and creativity of three artists and designers.

Among them is Gary McCann, pictured, with his scuplture Scavenger – a 3.6m crow made from metal and fibreglass which is in the Banqueting House folly.

The piece explores the relationship between man and nature.

Gary, who has produced work for many of the world’s leading theatre and opera companies including the National Theatre in the West End, on Broadway and the Vienna State Opera, also has another artwork – Lost Property – in the Temple of Fame.

The original designers of the Studley Royal Water Garden, the Aislabie family, created many follies on the vast and beautiful estate to surprise and delight their 18th century guests. The landscape they created was the height of fashion in its day.

Also helping to give the buildings a 21st century twist is Irene Brown whose work Hall of Mirrors has transformed the inside of the Octagon Tower into a world of shifting perspectives and infinite views.

Turning the idea of follies to provide viewing points to distant prospects or along carefully-constructed avenues on its head, the artist turns the viewer into the subject with mirrors evocative of the opulence of the period – epitomised by the great hall of mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France.

Irene Brown is an artist and academic whose research and practice is engaged with wonder, focusing on the history and philosophy of science.

The third artist, Simon Costin, delves into the history, folklore and ancient mythology of the water garden in the Temple of Piety where bizarre secrets are revealed and a strange series of events unfold.

The estate papers of the late Prof Dennistoun take visitors on a journey of discovery in the “ancient place of worship now in ruin”.

Simon studied theatre design and history of art and has grown to become an internationally respected art director, curator and set designer.

– Folly! runs until Sunday, November 29.