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Lucy + Jorge Orta: Gazing Ball

Lower Lake

Gazing Ball (2018) was originally commissioned for an exhibition called Folly! at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden in North Yorkshire. New outdoor artworks were made by a number of contemporary artists to re-imagine lost follies now known only through drawings.

Buildings created primarily for decorative purposes, follies were particularly fashionable in eighteenth-century estates, where they were talking points on walks in the open air, acting as a place for people to pause and take in the views or to sit and converse. Gazing Ball has now found its home at YSP within the Bretton Estate, another landscape designed in the eighteenth century and which has a number of follies, including the Greek Temple and Shell Grotto, in addition to a number that have also been lost over time.
Framing the views beyond, Gazing Ball has differently shaped geometric windows within its open structure that offer varied outlooks onto the landscape, observed from the seat at its centre. These devices relate to the historic trend for emphasising special or far reaching vistas.
Cradled at the top, and providing another way of seeing, is a large mirrored sphere that reflects and distorts the lake and surroundings.
Above the entrance to Gazing Ball is a bronze heart. Lucy + Jorge began working with the symol of the heart in 1996 following the needless death of a close friend whilst on the waiting list for a heart transplant. This drove them to embark on ten years of collective research, working with doctors, medical scientists, and donor organisations in over 40 cities around the world. The heart has become the artists’ enduring symbol of the gift of generosity, life, love and empathy.
Lucy + Jorge Orta’s collaborative practice explores some of the most pressing contemporary issues surrounding the environment, sustainability, climate change, community, borders and migration. They had a major exhibition at Longside Gallery in 2013 and their striking bronze figurative sculpture Diana rises out of the water in an inlet near lower lake.

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