Former Oxfordshire farm becomes unexpected art haven
Escape the city heatwave to Albion Fields, a new destination for rural outdoor sculpture, which opens with an exhibition including works by James Turrell, Joana Vasconcelos, Ai Weiwei and Erwin Wurm
Located a short train ride from London in the rolling Oxfordshire countryside, newly opened sculpture park Albion Fields promises open vistas, secluded woodland and, above all, a world-class line-up of outdoor sculptural treats.
The first show, conceived in partnership with Goodman Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery, König Galerie and Lisson Gallery, will present works by 26 leading contemporary artists including David Adjaye, Kader Attia, Daniel Buren, Claudia Comte, Ryan Gander, Jeppe Hein, Cristina Iglesias, Alicja Kwade, John Pawson, Eva Rothschild, James Turrell, Joana Vasconcelos, Xavier Veilhan, Bernar Venet, Ai Weiwei, Rachel Whiteread, and Erwin Wurm.
Bernar Venet, Indeterminate Line, 2016-2020. © Jonty Wilde and Bernar Vernet Studio
Highlights include Wurm’s bulbous metallic Fat Convertible, 2019, which mirrors the surrounding environment, and David Adjaye’s Horizon Pavilion, 2017, which looks at home in the agricultural landscape. In more variations on a theme of reflection is Ryan Gander’s More really shiny things that don’t mean anything, 2012, and Alicja Kwade’s Big Be-Hide, 2019, an edition of which is also currently on view at the 2021 Helsinki Biennial. Ai Weiwei, who was recently interviewed for Wallpaper’s At Home With series, presents a deceptive sofa, which resembles leather, but is in fact solid marble.
Interspersed among flora and fauna, the pieces will cohabit the landscape with deer, badgers, green woodpeckers, hares and owls that have all taken up residence since the land retired from agricultural use. The first installation of artworks at Albion Fields will be on view until 25 September 2021, after which works will be rotated biannually.
Ai Weiwei, Sofa in Black, 2011, marble. Image courtesy of Jonty Wilde, the artist and Lisson Gallery, London
The park was the brainchild of art dealer and collector Michael Hue-Williams, who owns the 50-acre farming estate in Little Milton. ‘Walking through these beautiful grounds during lockdown, I realised I have a unique opportunity to share the experience,’ says Hue-Williams. ‘Having access to this land, combined with my numerous years of experience working with contemporary sculpture, made the decision to open an outdoor sculpture park really compelling.’
Entry to the park is free of charge, and each work on view will be for sale. ‘There is very considerable interest from the public in seeing sculpture, particularly in the countryside in southern England, where there are such limited opportunities. In the current pandemic situation it would be of even greater benefit,’ says Lord Rothschild, who supported the project alongside Nicholas Serota, Lord Vaizey, Richard Long and Anish Kapoor, as well as the local MP John Howell, with permission from the South Oxfordshire Council. §