[Until 25th August]
This is the latest permanent commission by Jupiter Artland owners Nicky and Robert Wilson. Gateway is an intricately-designed informal swimming pool, enclosed within a formal, landscaped garden. All of this is set in a private area within the 100-acre estate of Scotland’s five-star attraction sculpture park. This will also be a site for Jupiter Rising, the annual live art and performance festival which marks the closing weekend of the Edinburgh Art Festival.
Joana Vasconcelos is an internationally-acclaimed Portuguese artist, previously commissioned to make temporary artworks at Jupiter Artland. She also enjoyed a successful exhibition there in 2018 and is known for working with bright colours.
Vasconcelos’ nine-metre circular swimming pool is bordered by a topiary garden, complete with fountain, summer house and with a yew tree hedge framing the entire space. Three years in the making, this collaborative artwork was conceived by Vasconcelos, working in partnership with tile makers, engineers, architects and a team of craftworkers in Portugal. The garden landscape is expertly designed in collaboration with the senior head gardener at Jupiter Artland, Thomas Unterdorfer, and Nicky Wilson – over 3,000 plants feature here, with boxwood, beech and Portuguese laurel all producing a flat complementary green hue of solid shapes which envelop the pool without distracting. In fact, green doesn’t feature anywhere within the pool’s intricate colour design which uses colours only found within the earth, water and sky.
You enter the garden through a secure gate and gradually follow a long path along to one of two wrought iron gates (Sun and Moon Gates), and then flow into a vast yet contained space with high hedges. The pool and garden are private and secure, a secret paradise.
There is a light-framed building summer house dome with a pink marble Flower of Life medallion in the centre. Here you can change, shower or relax on matching deckchairs and a bulbous, crochet-covered leather armchair.
The pool tile design also forms a splash, framing the pool itself, each petal of the splash represents a member of the Wilson family and includes design elements relating to their own astrological signs as well as the artist’s own sign. Each of the 11,366 hand-painted tiles is unique – there are no duplicate tiles here. Each different colour had to be applied separately.
This constellation of intertwined lines and forms follows a sacred geometry, astrology, cosmography and earth-bound energy meridians to orchestrate a cosmic traffic-flow of energy. It’s a highly-charged space and life-enhancing meeting point of design, energy and playfulness.
Once inside the pool, the dance of colours and lines in the water is incredible, both on the surface and beneath the water, conjuring up free-spirited and joyful energy. You also get the tactile sense of the bespoke nature and handcrafted quality of each tile against the contrast of the black earthy brick of the surrounding border which keeps you earthbound.
Vasconcelos maintains that working on this commission with the Wilsons has changed her both professionally and personally: “That’s really important because now I’m a different person in the end. That’s good, that’s how we grow. Every experience changes you but some change you more.”
If you don’t quite believe that an outdoor swimming pool on the edge of Edinburgh city centre can melt away inhibitions and encourage playfulness, then get in the pool and find out for yourself. You can book public bathing sessions throughout the Edinburgh Art Festival for up to ten people at a time. Don’t forget to seek out one very special (almost-hidden) hexagon within the pool design.
Bonnington House Steadings
Edinburgh EH27 8BY