Those looking to buy or enjoy unique sculptures but who are still skittish about being indoors with others will (literally) find a breath of fresh air in Oxfordshire, England’s recently opened Albion Fields: an outdoor gallery in a peaceful, bucolic setting.
Located on his own 50-acre property, art dealer Michael Hue-Williams came up with the idea during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Walking through these beautiful grounds during lockdown, I realized I have a unique opportunity to share the experience,” he says. “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.”
“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, one of several financial supporters of Albion Fields.
Opening on July 9th, 2021, the art garden’s first exhibition features 26 pieces from some of the world’s top sculptors, all showcased in the lush beauty of the English countryside. One preeminent work is Bernar Venet’s “Indeterminate Line” (2016-2020), itself an oversized mass of coiled metal. Also highlighted is “Sofa in Black” (2011) by Ai Weiwei, which looks convincingly like real leather but is actually carved entirely out of solid marble.
“Horizon Pavilion” (2017) by David Adjaye is a geometric timberwork that blends in harmoniously with its natural surroundings. Elsewhere in the garden the giant frame of “Cement Truck” (2010) by Wim Delvoye catches the eye, having been outlined with intricate Gothic architectural elements.
Many of the garden’s featured artworks also focus on light and reflection. “Big Be-Hide” (2017) by Alicja Kwade is composed of giant boulders on either side of a mirror, one natural and the other constructed from aluminum, thereby providing different echoes in the glass.
Erwin Wurm’s “Fat Convertible” (2019) is a mirrored car silhouette of bulbous metal, and Hue-Williams has artfully juxtaposed it against the weathered wood of an ancestral barn.
Panels of polished stainless steel and aluminum create a dimensional object that appears to vanish into the background at certain angles in “Twisted Geometric Mirror III” (2020) by Jeppe Hein. Albion Fields also includes another of his works – a nine-foot-tall metal cucumber.
Yet another reflective sculpture is Ryan Gander’s “More really shiny things that don’t mean anything” (2012), a six-foot tall sphere composed of a thousand small chrome objects.
To enhance the garden encounter, Hue-Williams even had his land, long used for agricultural purposes, rewilded with deer, badgers, owls, hares, woodpeckers, and other woodland creatures. As they move from piece to piece, visitors can catch glimpses of them as they meander on a zen-like path through forests, meadows, and lakes.
The project came together with the help of four partnering galleries: König Galerie, Goodman Gallery, Lisson Gallery, and Marian Goodman. Adding to the uniqueness of the space, every sculpture on view is for sale through their respective galleries.
The current set of sculptures will be on display until September 25th, after which the collections will be rotated every six months. Visits to the Albion Fields and the adjacent indoor gallery Albion Barn are free, but reservations are required.