Traditional Gardens & Modern Art

This week I visited Arley Hall & Gardens in Cheshire.

There’s a special exhibition of over twenty works by artists including Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Isamu Noguchi, Cerith Wyn Evans and Danh Vo. Sculptures dotted around the historical grounds, in ponds and deep in the woodland groves, courtesy of the White Cube Gallery and it was fabulous to see the contemporary works within this setting.

garden sculptures

modern sculpture

Play sculpture by Isamu Noguchi. I love how striking the red feels next to its complementary colour green here, it has almost a reverberation to it.

“I like to think of playgrounds as a primer of shapes and functions; simple, mysterious, and evocative: thus educational. The child’s world
would be a beginning world, fresh and clear.”

Isamu Noguchi, A Sculptor’s World

sitting under tree

It was an absolute scorcher, so armed with a gourmet picnic found a shady spot under a tree. There are many different areas within the 8 acres to explore, each with its own individual style and planting, the Woodland Walk and Grove was especially magical.

herringbone brickwork

The hall is where some of Peaky Blinders was filmed, an unbelievable building with decorative brickwork and intricate spiral chimney pots. Check out the herringbone facade of the Tudor barn.

Arley hall

walled garden Cheshire

cruck barn

Light installation on the beam of the Tudor Cruck barn by Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans. It’s thought to have been built in 1469, the same time as the house. Each pair of crucks was formed from a single oak trunk split down the middle, jointed and assembled on the ground and then raised into position and tied in with horizontal cross beams.


The brick floor of the Cruck Barn was laid in 1976 to a design by Lady Elizabeth Ashbrook.

kinetic sculpture

Really enjoyed this kinetic sculpture that rotates in the wind by artist Takis, painted iron and polystyrene spheres. It felt like the green and the black mimicked the lights and the shadows in the trees surrounding the piece.

alley hall garden

Epic double herbaceous border, one of Arley Gardens best-known features and thought to be the first border of its kind planted in England. You can just glimpse an Anthony Gormley steel body sculpture perched on the 17th century brick wall.

herbaceous border

The gardens have been created over the last 270 years by the same family, and the Herbaceous border backlit by the afternoon sun was stunning.

rode garden

pink roses

Amazing pinks within the formal rose garden. Every new area you stumble upon has little benches dotted around where you can ponder on the surroundings, almost meditative in the cool shade.

David Altmejd’s interpretation of the classical nymph, looking great with the backdrop of green.


Front Entrance to Arley Hall, it had just closed by the time we’d got round here but next time looking forward to exploring the architecture inside.

The sculpture exhibition is on until Monday 29th August 2022.

This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. Michael E

    Thank you for sharing your outing with us; we thoroughly enjoyed the garden, and we felt a wee bit English through the video too!

    1. Will Kemp

      Great to hear it Michael, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  2. Kathleen Kokolias

    Thank you for sending these lovely photos of Arley Hall and Gardens. Looks like you had a picture perfect day.
    All the best, Kathe
    St. Augustine, Florida

  3. Jo

    Thank you, Will, for this lovely article. And the photos are very beautifully taken as well.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks so much Jo, kind of you to say so.

  4. penny

    Hi Will,
    Arley Park looks fabulous, I’m there asap!
    Thank you
    Penny Burton

    1. Will Kemp

      For sure Penny, it’s a really amazing garden.

  5. Gaynor Davies

    Great film, Will, and lovely choice of music!

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Gaynor, pleased you enjoyed the music.

  6. Norma

    I enjoyed my tour round the gardens.
    It was a joy brighten my day
    Thank you.

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased to hear you enjoyed it Norma.

  7. Fenella

    Golly, i loved the trip around the beautiful gardens and the details of the bricks and the barn, but that nymph looks as if she should be in great pain! Loved the first pictures of the red worm too!

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks so much Fenella, glad you enjoyed spotting the artworks around the space.

  8. Frieda

    Thank you for sharing your visit! I needed a little get away like this today.

  9. Hilda Rogers

    Thank you, Will – I really enjoyed your little video!

  10. Mike Kean

    Such a lovely lovely setting Will! Love the old brick work with the chimney among the greens.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Mike, yes, the old brickwork is fab, such a nice colour contrast with the greens. Hope your sketches are coming along well.

  11. Sima

    It’s amazing.
    Where is located the garden.

    1. Will Kemp

      It’s at Arley Hall in Cheshire, North-west England.

  12. Heather Courtis

    Thanks Will. For an Aussie who hasn’t travelled in 2 years this was a treat. The pattern and light play on grass and masonry was stunning.

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed the virtual tour Heather.

  13. Sylvia Hayes

    Hi Will, what a beautiful place. I’m sure they would love to have your art class there for a painting weekend. Love your work. Syl

    1. Will Kemp

      There were so many amazing views, it was a really lovely setting.

  14. Camille

    Lovely as usual, thank you for sharing Will !

  15. Philippa Granwal

    Just loved this. Thank you so much for sharing with those of us who can’t visit and see all this beauty – really generous!

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed it Philippa, glad the article gave a glimpse into the gardens for you.

  16. Nita

    Thanks for the awesome tour, Will. A visual feast… one can almost smell the herbs and roses. Can’t wait to try to sketch these old buildings.

    1. Will Kemp

      Great stuff Nita, pleased you’re feeling inspired.

  17. Charles Parry

    Living in Knutsford in Cheshire we get many opportunities of visiting Arley Hall and its beautiful gardens. Look up historic places in Cheshire and be amazed. Thanks for shariong Will

  18. Lisa

    Thank you, Will! I look forward to taking more courses with you soon! ☺ Take care from Canada.

  19. Nancy Borchert

    What a pleasure to see this morning! When we lived in Germany we made regular visits to England and we always booked garden tours. To an American from the high deserts of Colorado, USA, they are unbelievably beautiful and full of incredible history. Your photography is beautiful. I feel like a just got the gift of quick trip to England again this morning! Thank you, Will.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks for your kind words on the photos Nancy, so pleased you enjoyed seeing the gardens.

  20. Joan

    Thank you Will for sharing these amazing sculptures and this beautiful garden. We will be in the UK in September but sadly too late to visit this exhibit.

    1. Will Kemp

      Ahh, what a shame Joan, hope you manage to catch another show on your visit.

  21. Beatriz

    Hi Will, thanks for sharing this video. Btw, you have a knack for taking great photos. They capture the essence of the place. One can almost sense the atmosphere even just by looking at the photos.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks so much Beatriz, so pleased you enjoyed them and they brought your closer to the space.

  22. Cecilia

    So many beautiful ideas for so many paintings ahead, good luck in everything you do and thanks for sharing, Will!

  23. Basia Zielinska

    Thank you so much for sharing these Will. Looks beautiful. I miss English gardens. I have lived in Sydney over 40 Years and grow a few English flowers (Roses, lavender) but not the same. Too humid. Other plants – which may seem exotic to you (eg Gardenia) grow abundantly here. Last time I visited England was pre Covid, 3 years ago and visited gardens (Of course) I also love bluebell woods, childhood memories (Fairford) and the distinctive seasons which are much more subtle here.

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you enjoyed seeing the gardens Basia.

  24. Delores Haugland Will…you are so thoughtful! What a wondrous space!

  25. Bożena

    Thank you, Will. It’s been pure pleasure. I am happy to have some of the herbs and roses in my garden, now I definitely need a modern sculpture or two…

    1. Will Kemp

      Yes, so true, the sculptures seem to highlight the flowers and herbs even more.

  26. Bob Adams

    Thank you for the tour Will. I always enjoy your posts. I’m finally back to painting after a year off and a near death covid experience. Happy American Independence Day from Arkansas USA. :)
    Bob A

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you’re doing ok Bob, sounds very scary indeed. Hope the painting is acting as a calming process.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.