folly! 2018 brings outdoor sculpture to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

folly! 2018 brings outdoor sculpture to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

Four playful and interactive new installations have sprung to life in the iconic landscape of National Trust site Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. Folly! 2018 is running until 4 November 2018.

Internationally recognised architects and artists Charles Holland, Lucy + Jorge Orta and Fleafolly have created installations to bewitch and beguile visitors of all ages at the World Heritage Site. The designs include an exotic and colourful 9m tower, a mirrored sphere which reflects and frames the garden’s many viewpoints, and a curious echo-chamber water tower. A fourth imaginative design by local primary school student Foster Carter has created a suspended cloud inspired by the great Yorkshire weather.

Now in its third year, folly! encourages visitors to explore the water garden as it was originally intended; as a site of play and intrigue with dramatic views that criss-cross the landscape. The Georgian water garden is dotted with follies, fanciful structures designed to catch the eye, and for folly! 2018, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal invited artists to design new art works, or modern-day follies, that are now installed where original 18th century follies have been lost from the landscape.

Justin Scully, General Manager at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal comments: “The new artworks continue the great 18th century tradition of follies in landscape gardens; catching the eye and surprising visitors to the garden. This year is the 300th anniversary of Studley Royal and what better way to mark this milestone than by re-imagining the garden’s lost follies through the eyes of some of the UK’s most interesting artists and architects. We hope that over the next few months visitors will see their favourite views and corners of the water garden in new, playful and enlightening ways.”


Charles Holland stood by Polly in the Grounds of Studley Royal. Picture Credit Charlotte Graham

Polly, by Charles Holland
This colourful and ornate 9m tall tower, affectionately nick-named ‘Polly’, evokes the playful structures of 18th century picturesque gardens as well as the exotic flora and fauna they often featured. Its form is reminiscent of an exotic bird and its timber shingle cladding has been painted in a mix of opulent colours to suggest a parrot’s plumage.  The ‘head’ of the tower features a camera obscura which projects new, focussed views of the water garden within the interior. The fantastical installation is also visible from ‘Surprise View,’ the most famous vista in the World Heritage Site, appearing in the landscape alongside the majestic ruins of Fountains Abbey.


Gazing Ball, Lucy + Jorge Orta. Part of folly! at Fountains Abbey. Picture credit Charlotte Graham

Gazing Ball, by Lucy + Jorge Orta
‘Gazing Ball’, located on the Banqueting House lawn, offers unusual reflections of the moon ponds and mirrored waters of Studley Royal. The 4m tall pentagonal steel sculpture has multiple windows of different shapes, referencing architectural details of the Rotundo, a classical Ionic folly formerly found on the site, presenting picture-perfect framed views across the gardens to the gothic Octagon Tower opposite. The sculpture is crowned by a mirror sphere, which catches the light and plays with the reflected views of the water garden.


The Bathing House Listening Tower, Fleafolly. Part of folly! at Fountains Abbey. Picture credit Charlotte Graham

The Bathing House Listening Tower, by Fleafolly
‘The Bathing House Listening Tower’ has been inspired by a stone bath house folly that was fed by the nearby spring until the mid-1800s. A striking 3m tall white tower topped with a copper water collector, the tower repeats the noises of dripping water. Using internal trumpets to amplify and transmit the sounds, it tempts garden explorers to interact with the listening tower, hearing the echoes of the long-lost Bathing House.  The dripping sounds in the bathing house are created through pumping water into a tank at the top of the tower. This water then falls into a giant terracotta vase that is finely tuned to create a melodic splashing sound. This system was inspired by the suikinkutsu, a 17th century Japanese music device.


The Cloud, Foster Carter. Part of folly! at Fountains Abbey. Picture credit Charlotte Graham

The Cloud, by Foster Carter
11-year-old Foster Carter won a competition run in partnership with the North Yorkshire Society of Architects to design a fourth folly! and inspire a new generation of architects. Picked from over 1,800 entries, Foster’s design, ‘The Cloud’, is situated next to the Silver Pond in the water garden, and uses a 4.2m wood frame to hold up a ‘cloud’ made of

folly! is part of ‘Trust New Art’, a partnership between the National Trust and Arts Council England.

folly! 2018
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
28 April – 4 November 2018


About the Architects


Charles Holland Architects is an international architecture and design studio. CHA work across scales and disciplines and current projects include two new houses, a public artwork on the east Kent coast and the regeneration of an historic high street.
Before forming CHA, Charles was a founding director of Ordinary Architecture and a director of FAT. Whilst at FAT he was the director in charge of a number of key projects including A House For Essex, the practice’s collaboration with Grayson Perry. Alongside his practice activities Charles is involved in teaching, writing and research and is a Professor of Architecture at the University of Brighton

Lucy + Jorge Orta founded Studio Orta in 1992, working between London, Paris and Les Moulins, a cultural complex established by the artists along an 8km stretch of the Grand Morin valley in Seine-et-Marne. Les Moulins is as an extension of their practice: to establish a collective environment dedicated to artistic research and production of contemporary art. Informed by the natural environment and the industrial heritage, in particular the former mills and paper production that once occupied the valley, the historical factories of Moulin Sainte-Marie, Moulin de Boissy, Moulin La Vacherie and La Laiterie are undergoing redevelopment into artist studios, workshops, residencies, exhibition and performance spaces, set in a 20-hectare sculpture park.

Founded in 2012 by Pascal Bronner and Thomas Hillier, FleaFolly are spatial-storytellers who use narrative to explore, discover and invent unique propositions translating them into fantastical spaces that surround us. They operate across the fields of architecture, design, contemporary art and installation to enhance and blur the thresholds of spatial design. Alongside practice, they teach architecture at the Bartlett UCL, University of Greenwich and the Cass. Drawing upon their multi-disciplinary experience in both architectural practice and through architectural teaching, their objective – no matter what the subject – remains the same: to surprise and delight!


The North Yorkshire Society of Architects (NYSA) is a group of local architects who meet regularly to share ideas and organise events to promote architecture within the area. NYSA is a voluntary member led branch of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.

NYSA’s folly! schools competition follows the successful BIKEBAY design competition where North Yorkshire primary school children were invited to design and build a bicycle stand to celebrate the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire in 2014.

Foster’s design will be brought to life by Stage One, a York based construction company that specialises in creative construction, manufacture & engineering.  Stage One collaborates with architects, designers, producers and artists. Previous commissions have included Heatherwick Studio’s Olympic Cauldron for London 2012.

The Raining Cloud Folly installation is being made possible by the generosity of the West Yorkshire Society of Architects and the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation.

Jade Tilley
Jade Tilley

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