Crime writer Ian Rankin pleads for Edinburgh sculpture park to be protected from green belt housing threat

Crime writer Ian Rankin has pleaded for an acclaimed sculpture park on the outskirts of Edinburgh to be protected from the threat of more than 2000 homes being built on its doorstep.

Antony Gormley's Firmament sculpture is one of the most popular works of art at Jupiter Artland. Picture: Jon Savage
Antony Gormley's Firmament sculpture is one of the most popular works of art at Jupiter Artland. Picture: Jon Savage

The best-selling author has thrown his weight behind a campaign to prevent land beside Jupiter Artland, near Ratho, being allocated for a development under a 10-year blueprint for new housing being drawn up by the city council.

Created by art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson at their 100-acre estate at Wilkieston, the “open air museum" is home to more than 30 works of specially-commissioned works of art.

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However they have warned that its future is under “significant threat” after nearby was earmarked by the city council as one of five green belt sites on the outskirts of the city where new housing could be built. They claim new housing would “rupture the peace” for visitors and deter artists from creating bespoke work there.

Ian Rankin has thrown his weight behind Jupiter Artland's campaign to prevent housing being built on nearby green belt land.

Rankin has spoken out after the creator of The Angel of the North, Antony Gormley, said it would be “extraordinarily unjust” for new housing to be built near Jupiter Artland, which he described as “a unique and precious resource for the creativity of the future and the imagination of the present.”

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Angel of the North creator backs campaign to 'protect' Edinburgh sculpture park ...

Rankin, a regular visitor to the attraction with his family since it opened to the public in 2009, has hailed Jupiter Artland as one of the best sculpture parks in the world and said he had come to value it even more in the wake of the pandemic because of the peace and tranquillity it offers.

However he suggested the experience of visiting would be ruined because some of the artworks have been designed to be enjoyed against an “unspoiled” landscape.

More than a million visitors have flocked to Jupiter Artland since it opened to the public in 2009. Picture: Allan Pollok-Morris

Rankin said: “We’ve gone to Jupiter Artland as a family for years.

“It’s an absolutely magical place. The people who run it have put their heart and soul into it. It stands comparison with any sculpture park in the world.

“When you go for a work through the woods there you are suddenly confronted by world-class works of art by internationally-renowned artists. You’re doing that in someone’s garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

“Every time you go there there will be a new artwork which wasn’t there before. It’s all been done privately by people who love art and want to see it displayed in the best possible circumstances.

“If you start building houses around it that’s going to be detrimental to the experiences visitors will have.

“The setting is actually intrinsic to its enjoyment. When you come across some of artworks you are looking past them and through them to the scenery beyond. At the moment, that’s pretty unspoiled.

“I’m against building on green belt sites, full stop. One thing the pandemic has shown us is that we should cherish our green spaces.”

A spokeswoman for Jupiter Artland said: “We’ve been overwhelmed with support from our Friends of Jupiter, visitors and our local councillors.

“In a time when the news has been filled with negativity, the outpouring of gratitude towards Jupiter and all we do with local schools, communities and families has been a real beacon of goodness.

"Being able to share the restorative, educational and artistic effects of Jupiter is always rewarding, but feels particularly poignant in the current climate.”

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