The UK’s public art scene is booming, with world-class artists creating spectacular sculptures, often in stunning surroundings, for everyone to enjoy. Here’s our pick of the very best art you can enjoy without having to head into a gallery.
The Ring, Saltburn-by-the-Sea (see above)
The Ring (also known as the circle or bracelet), just outside the pretty north east village of Saltburn–by–the–Sea in north east England, features a series of charms referencing local culture. Standing on the cliff edge, the views through its centre are well worth the walk. Follow the marked path to see more sculptures, including an unusual marker post and metal fish that represent the local fishing industry.
Angel of the North, Gateshead
Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North is unquestionably the UK’s most famous public artwork. Taller than four double decker buses and constructed from 200 tonnes of steel, seeing its hulking form up close is even more impressive than driving past on the A1. Make sure you park up and take a walk around the surrounding countryside to see the Angel from all angles.
Whale’s Tail, Portsmouth
Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays are home to this spectacular sculpture by artist Richard Farrington. Steeped in the city’s nautical heritage, the bronze statue is covered in imagery from 16th century charts of Iceland. When you’re finished marvelling at Farrington’s attention to detail, head to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard to learn more about why the city has such a special place in global maritime history.
The Kelpies, Falkirk
Situated in The Helix, a new community park in Falkirk, The Kelpies are Scotland’s most arresting piece of public art. At 30 metres tall, artist Andy Scott’s representations of these mythical creatures stand guard at the entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal, which provides excellent walking and boating options.
Steel Wave, Newport
Newport is a city which grew on the back of its steel trade, so it’s only appropriate that this vast, wave–like creation should stand in the place where its commercial docks once thrived. Visitors can go back to the city’s steel roots by following the route of the nearby Usk Valley Walk upstream into some of South Wales’ most arresting countryside.
Standing on the Broadway Junction, one of the main routes into Belfast, Rise’s interlocking geodesic spheres dominate the skyline. Created by Wolfgang Buttress, they represent a new day rising over the once troubled city. As it’s on a roundabout, getting close isn’t possible, so explore historic Belfast centre once you’ve driven past.