Location: Kielder, Northumberland
Year Created: 1994
Time to Complete: 3 Days +
Number of Artworks: 47
The above Map has been edited to include all artworks throughout the years.
Kielder Forest flanks the hillsides around a large reservoir created in 1982. The same year, to commemorate the building of the dam the first sculpture was unveiled by the Queen. It wasn’t until 1994/5 that the sculpture trail was introduced. Originally a “sculptural commissioning programme and since 1999, including architecture as part of its remit”. I believe all new installations are inspired by Architecture rather than taking the form of traditional forest sculptures.
The artworks for the most part are located along the banks of the reservoir, though several are on top of the hills to the north of the site and two are complete outliers in nearby villages. The northern side of the water has a plethora of sculptures only accessible by walking or by bike. It takes an entire day to visit these sculptures alone.
The southern side of the lake, is more accessible with a road alongside and numerous car parks close to the sculptures. I have not visited any of the sculptures on the hillsides, but due to my experiences I believe it takes (at least) 3 separate visits to see every artwork in the forest.
The sculptures on this page are in location order by area, following a loose anti clockwise pattern. Clicking on the title of the artwork will lead you to the official page relating to it.
Sculptures in the nearby villages
The artworks here are all sited in villages surrounding the forest.
Stonehaugh Totem Poles
These are the oldest sculptures in Kielder. Stonehaugh is a village built for forestry workers in the 1950s. Over the years, 4 sets of totem poles have been created in the village, with newer ones replacing older ones as they rot away. “The poles have traditionally been created by local people supported by Wark Parish Council and supported by local forestry staff.” None of the totems have been listed as part of the sculpture trail.
Original Totem Poles 1971 – 1982
Joe Potts and Allan Hutchinson
The original Totem Poles Carved by villagers.
Second Totem Poles 1982 – 1992
Carved by Joe Pott’s brother Jimmy.
Third Totem Poles 1992 –
I assume the photo above is of the third set of totems. Even after the new ones have been installed these remain. They are clearly a bit worn but still stand strong in 2020.
Fourth Totem Poles 2019 –
Three new totem poles were installed in November 2019. The 80ft larches used were donated by the Forestry Commission. “Children at Wark Primary School also helped to design one of the poles, and Steve said: “Each pole is different – one traditional, one incorporating the children’s ideas, and one depicting animals to represent the local wildlife.”
Quotes from Chonicle Live. Photos taken by R. Harvey 2020
Stonehaugh Stargazing Pavillion
Newcastle University School of Architecture 2014
Also in Stonehaugh is “a new pavilion for star gazers and nature watchers.” Built in 2014 by Newcastle Uni Students, unfortunately it seems it’s rather neglected now with the wood rotting, which is a shame.
Photos taken by R. Harvey 2020
Newcastle University School of Architecture 2016
Sited in Rochester a village to the north of Kielder. “The project has responded to community wishes to reuse the old unused and dilapidated ‘Brigantium’ visitor attraction to create a new external amphitheatre space using the old roundhouse’s walls, and has put in place a completely new pavilion close by to provide a simple and elegant internal space for community events and activities.” – Official Website
Colin Wilbourne 2006
Sited beside the river in Falstone Village, which is just below the dam at the eastern end of the lake. If you park up in the village it is a short and pleasant walk along the riverside to this sculpture. “A sheepfold, becomes a seat. This is a place to rest where the walls form two sofas, carved cushions are placed to lean against, and steel throws over the backs of the seats are cut with designs reflecting the community of Falstone and constantly changing landscape that surrounds it.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.colinwilbourn.co.uk/me/
Sculptures along the Northern Side of the Lake
There is a footpath the entire length of the northern side of the lake. You can start either at Kielder Castle to the west or the dam to the east. The dam walk provides access to the sculptures quicker than the west, this is the direction I have used to list the sculptures here.
This was the first official sculpture in Kielder created to commemorate the building of the dam. It is not classed as one of the sculptures which forms the trail having been installed 12 years prior to the start of the trail. It is sited beside the dam car park and has a plaque with a name, therefore I believe it should be included. The sculpture consists of three large stones placed together upright. The same stones were used to form the base of the dam. Two stones retain the marks where explosives were used to extract the stone from a quarry. This was unveiled by The Queen in 1982.
Photographs Taken 2019
Chris Drury 1996
“Wave Chamber is a camera obscura, projecting an image of the water onto the floor of a small stone structure. The building takes the form of a drystone beehive on the shoreline. Although the interior initially appears very dark, as your eyes adjust to the low light level a moving image of waves on the lake appears on the floor if by magic.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: chrisdrury.co.uk/
Interior photo taken by R. Harvey 2020
“A brightly painted steel structure. The name refers to the latitude and longitude of the site and highlights the importance of the building’s location to its design, where key site lines contribute to its unusual layout and seating orientates visitors towards particular views of the wider lake and into smaller inlets nearby.” – Official Website. This is a shelter containing seats, where the central panel slides allowing you to change the view around.
Artist’s Website: www.sixteenmakers.org/
Softroom Architects 1999
“The first architecture piece added to the forest. This metallic shelter reflects the surrounding landscape, changing with the weather.” – Official Website. A silver, reflective building with a window inside to view out. Like a bird hide but doing the opposite of blending in.
Photo taken by R. Harvey 2020
Studio Weave 2009
“Robin’s Hut is one of a pair of small buildings located on opposite sides of the Kielder Water, the other being Freya’s Cabin (See Below). They are linked by a story which tells a tale of the two characters who live by the lake and their efforts to meet up. Robin’s Hut is a simple cedar shingle clad open-ended timber structure.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.studioweave.com/
The Italian Tower
Nathan Coley 2001 – 2001
An Italianate tower sited in the water off the remote north shore. This was a temporary piece lasting 4 months in the water. It linked the flooded village underneath Kielder Reservoir with that of Venice.
Artist’s Website: www.studionathancoley.com/
FleaFolly Architects 2018
“FleaFolly Architects were commissioned to create a sculptural perch sited in the lake for Ospreys and other birds at Kielder Water. Their artwork, Plashetts Rising, references the submerged Plashetts Quarry located nearby from which stone was extracted during the making of Kielder Water’s dam between 1976 and 1980, as well as René Magritte’s 1959 surrealist painting The Castle of the Pyrenees and Michael Heizer’s monumental sculpture Levitated Mass.” – Official Website.
To me this resembles a cloud with rain drops coming down…
Artist’s Website: www.fleafollyarchitects.com/
Photograph by R. Harvey 2020
Xsite Architecture 2009
“A series of sculptures that reflect on the amazing life cycle of the salmon that live in the river Tyne. The four Salmon Cubes started life as part of the Tyne Salmon Trail, a sculpture project initiated by the Environment Agency to encourage more people to use and enjoy the river Tyne and to raise awareness of its healthy salmon population.” – Official Website.
Four boxes of different colours, some with pieces that move.
Artist’s Website: www.xsitearchitecture.co.uk/
Ryder Architecture 2009
“Three large rotating seats that offer seating, shelter and a view of the open expanse of Kielder Water. Based on the idea of flower petals in different stages of unfolding, the seats can be arranged to face each other, face the sun or the desired view, or turn their backs to inclement weather.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.ryderarchitecture.com/
Tania Kovats 1998
“Originally two ‘Viewpoints’ sat on opposite shores, visible from either side, but remote destinations. Only the north Viewpoint at Needs Hill is now still in place. Viewpoints is a physical three-dimensional representation of the Ordnance Survey symbol for a viewpoint it offers a frame for the landscape and encourages a visitor to consider the experience of looking.” – Official Website
Silvas Capitalis (Forest Head)
“Silvas Capitalis (a play on the latin for ‘forest head’) is a giant timber head. The head has been conceived as a watcher, an imagined presence who has observed the passing occupation of the landscape over past millennia and how the environment has dramatically changed during the last one hundred years with the coming of the forest and more recently the lake. The ears take the form of trumpets protruding into the head’s interior. Visitors can nor listen to the forest the the sculpture’s ears, as well as watching it through its eyes.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.simparch.org/
Photographs above unless stated taken by J.Harvey & A.Ferguson 2016.
Top of the Lake & Around Kielder Castle
A selection of artworks located around the top of the lake, Bakethin Nature Reserve and the Kielder Castle Visitor Centre.
Bakethin Nature Reserve
Multiple Blacksmiths 2004
If you carried on the northern footpath from the dam you would eventually meet this viaduct. It is much easier to approach it from the car park nearby at the west end of the lake. Along the top of the derelict Skew Arch Railway Viaduct, are a number of panels depicting animals and history of the forest. “The wrought iron panels on Kielder Viaduct were made by about 60 blacksmiths from across the country at a ‘Forge In’ event at Kielder Water & Forest Park in 2004.” – Official Website. This sculpture is not listed on the official website but is well worth including.
Newcastle University School of Architecture 2017
“Students at Newcastle University’s School of Architecture worked with Kielder Art & Architecture, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Northumbrian Water to design and build a Welcome Point to compliment their new wildlife hide at Bakethin Conserevation Area.” – Official Website This is a structure containing information about local wildlife and maps of where to walk.
Tommy Craggs 2018
This is an intricately sculpted wooden bench depicting several otter, a swimming fish and a large bird of prey. Located on the walk to Bakethin Hide. This sculpture is not listed on the official website but is well worth including.
Artist’s Website: www.treesculpting.co.uk/
Newcastle University School of Architecture 2017
This is a bird and animal hide with two parts, one facing the water, the other facing the forest. The roof is seeded and the wood used for construction is charred to preserve it longer.
Around the Castle
Earth, Wind, Fire & Water
Richard Caink 1994 – (Post 2004)
The first artwork to be commissioned at Kielder. Four carved wooden Seats around a table in the grounds of Kielder Castle. Still listed on the guide map 2004 – 2006 so removed after this point. Decommissioned.
These carved stone posts are sited just at the entrance to Kielder Castle. To me they bare a resemblance to the wooden seats by Richard Caink. I’m not sure if they were also part of the artwork above, but they fit here anyway.
Andrea Wilkinson 1997 – ?
A flock of 70 budgerigars positioned in the trees around Kielder Castle. The website claims some can still be seen in one tree in particular. Decommissioned.
Nick Coombe & Shona Kitchen 2003
This is a full size maze with stone walls sited just below Kielder Castle. Very popular it has some “special features that include a set of stairs taking visitors above the walls and enabling them to consider possible alternative routes within the maze and say ‘Hello’ to others waiting outside. The final goal, a small glittering room formed from rocks of recycled glass is a quiet place from which to contemplate the task of discovering a return route to the outside world.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: coombearchitecture.com
The Warm Room
Newcastle University School of Architecture 2015
This is a warm space for campers to go to be able to watch the stars.
The Grass Seemed Darker Than Ever
Fiona Curran 2016
“It consists of a tall brightly painted sycamore paling fence encircling a section of the forest about half a mile from Kielder Castle visitor centre. Within the enclosure created is the usual forest debris, but painted black. The fence and its dark interior allude to the historic inclosure of the English landscape.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.fionacurran.co.uk/
Castle, Follies & Elephants
Claire Harper, James & Oliver Perry 2017 – 2017
A temporary piece located around Kielder Castle. “A series of sculptures realised as playful objects in the landscape. Each of the five structures derived from a fragment of a buildings or other facility that had influenced the development of Kielder over ther past 1000 years” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.harperperry.co.uk/news/kielder-castle/
“Developed from old and new maps of Kielder. This mini golf course has fairways and obstacles from these maps with holes and start points that refer to past and present locations within the valley spread out over the course on a number of levels.” – Official Website. In the photograph above you can see the sculpture ‘Viewpoints’ recreated as part of the course.
Artist’s Website: www.wolfgangweileder.com/
Sculptures on the hillsides
These artworks are all located high up on the hills in Kielder, or further out from the main lake area.
Blakehope Nick Pavilion
Newcastle University School of Architecture 2019
Photos taken by R. Harvey 2022
“The Heritage Lottery funded viewing platform and shelter has been built at Blakehope Nick as part of the wider Revitalising Redesdale initiative.” – Newcastle University Website. This sculpture is located on the ‘Forest Drive’ which is not always open. It is closed during winter until the 1st of May.
Adjaye Associates 2009
“Specere is a stark timber shelter located on top of the 1900 foot summit of Deadwater Fell” – Official Website. The black rectangle on the hill top is Specere, viewed from Kielder Village.
Artist’s Website: www.adjaye.com/
Source of the North Tyne
Gilbert Ward 2013
“Kielder Art & Architecture worked with cancer charity Daft as a Brush to commission a sculpture to mark the source of the North Tyne River. The project will eventually mark the start/finish point for a new walking route from the source of the North Tyne to the sea and back. The sculpture marks the highest position from which water still flows into the stream bed during summer months. During the winter water can be found contributing to the flow a further 300m up the hillside.” – Official Website. There is a pull of at the road side then it is a very short walk to the sculpture.
Artist’s Website: www.gilbertward.co.uk
Cat Cairn: The Kielder Sky Space
James Turrell 2000
Photo by R. Harvey Spring 2021
“The artwork consists of a short tunnel that leads to a partially buried circular room with a ceiling containing a central circular oculus or opening (to the sky) and a ring of seats forming the lower part of the inner wall.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: jamesturrell.com/
Charles Barclay Architects 2008
Photo by R. Harvey Spring 2021
“Like the deck of a ship sailing above the landscape, the Observatory provides astronomers with a permanent facility in the heart of Northumberland. Famed for having the darkest night skies in England thanks to minimal light pollution.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: cbarchitects.co.uk/
Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley, 1996 – 2004
“On a high point overlooking The Forks in the Lewisburn valley. The structure was constructed using untreated larch logs with their sawn ends exposed. Set out as two intersecting ramp shaped walls, Log Lookout had small benches formed from longer protruding logs and a turfed roof formed over a seat in one of its inner corners.” – Official Website Designed to resemble timber stacks seen throughout the forest. Decommissioned.
Artist’s Website: www.jplw.co.uk/
Alan Franklin, 1997 – (Post 2004)
Deep in the forest at Lewisburn, “constructed from approximately 6500 triangular blocks of pine and larch, Skedaddle stood twenty-one foot tall amongst a dense population of Norway spruce trees. Its form appeared to be somewhere between a giant skittle and a chess pawn. Clinging to its surface was a colony of small red wooden houses which like ants, seem to have taken possession of their host.” – Official Website. Still listed on the 2004 – 2006 guide map so removed after this point. Decommissioned.
Artist’s Website: www.alanfranklin.net/index.htm
Sculptures along the Southern Side of the Lake
These artworks are located sporadically along the southern bank. They are all relatively accessible as a road runs along this shoreline. The largest selection of them are sited around Leaplish Water Park area.
John Maine 1990/1999
“Kielder column is a stock of pink sandstone blocks arranged in courses around a core. The surfaces have been closely worked by hand to create the sense of an ascending spiral throughout the column. The artist John Maine created Kielder Column in 1990 for the Gateshead Garden Festival. It was re-erected at Bakethin Weir in 1999.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: johnmaine.co.uk/index.html
Kisa Kawakami 2006 – 2011
A large wooden deck of varying elevations above which was suspended 500 shining discs. The discs were removed in 2011, the deck possibly still remains. The sign certainly does in 2019.
Tania Kovats 1998 – (Post 2004)
There used to be two viewpoint sculptures one each side of the lake this one was removed at some point, the one on the North Shore remains. Still listed on the 2004 – 2006 guide map so removed after this point. Decommissioned.
In Flagrenti Delicto
Angus Watt 1996 – 1996
“A flag installation as part of Year of Visual Arts” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: anguswatt.net/
Wolfgang Weileder 2006
“The artist developed Mapping from old and new maps of Kielder creating fairways and obstacles from these maps with holes and start points that refer to past and present locations within the valley spread out over the course on a number of levels.” – Official Website. Mapping is a crazy golf course, above you can see the Viewpoints Sculpture in miniature.
Photo taken by R. Harvey 2020
Mosedale Gillatt Architects with OCTO Design 2002 – (Post 2004)
This was a “thin stainless steel upright slab that unfolds like a magic box to create a seating area. This work was originally built for the Sitooteries exhibition at Belsay Hall in 2000.” – 2004-06 Guide map. Decommissioned. The above photograph was taken at Belsay Hall.
Artist’s Website: mgarchitects.info/t
Photograph from Northern Arts ‘Commissions in the North of England’ Pdf.
Zone Architects 2006
“Play Garden is an unusual playscape featuring a walled garden for smaller children, with forest follies in the wilder area for older visitors, a miniature landscape that mimics aspects of the Kielder environment. While the enclosed are provides safe play for younger children, more challenging tower structures in the form of a Cottage, Barn and Castle occupy an open area and suggest past lives of this agricultural and military landscape.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: zonearchitects.co.uk/
This open doorway is located at the start of the beech walk. It encourages people to take a photograph and upload it to social media. It is artistic. I don’t know when it was sited or who made it, it isn’t part of the sculpture trail but is a nice encounter.
Julia Barton 1995
“Shadow is one of the earliest sculptures to be made for Kielder Water & Forest Park, inspired by and celebrating the ancient trees along the Beeches Walk.” – Official Website. The Sculpture takes the form curving stone walls forming small mounds up the hillside.
Colin Rose 1995 – 2010
“A series of large balls, all made from rope and sited in two trees along the Beeches Walk at Leaplish Waterside Park. Artist Colin Rose created the work, drawing on elements of play and energy stored within seeds and from the elements – sun, rain, clouds, waves and the natural rhythms and cycles that underlie them.” – Official Website. Decommissioned 2010.
Artist’s Website: www.colinrose.co.uk/
“A rough hewn hedgehog crouching on a plinth, with a bench set into one side.” – Public Sculpture of North East England Book
I have only found one photo of this carving, the artist seems to be unknown. As there are no recent photos of it I could find has it been removed???
Simon Watkinson 2018
“Functions both as an orientation point and utility store screen (hides the bins) at Kielder Waterside. Fabricated from self-weathering steel, during the day Shapling presents a hard, rugged feel. However, in the evening its softer side emerges as a hidden lighting system transforms it into a mosaic of colour changing squares.” – Official Website. This is located in the middle of the camping area it can be hard to locate.
Studio Weave 2009
“Freya’s Cabin is one of a pair of small buildings located on opposite sides of the Kielder Water along the Lakeside Way. The two buildings, Robin’s Hut (See Above) and Freya’s Cabin, are linked by the story of Freya & Robin, which tells a tale of the two characters who live by the lake and their efforts to meet up. Freya’s Cabin is a timber structure, clad in gold, balanced in long golden stems and carved on the inside like a forest. It has been constructed like a flower press with two solid end that squeeze 200 differently carved ‘pages’ that together make up the internal forest and integrated seats.” – Official Website
Nicola Moss 1998
“Kielder Keepsake is an interactive walk of approximately 2 miles (2 hours walk time). A series of 12 bronze rubbing plaques are located on a walking loop around the end of the Bull Crag peninsula. Each plaque depicts a different subject inspired by the experiences the artist had as she explored Kielder and developed the project. The walk becomes an intriguing hunt for each plaque with the finished book of rubbings becoming the artwork to be taken home, hence ‘keepsake’.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.nicolamossartmedals.com/
Photos of Kielder Keepsake by R. Harvey 2020
David Rickard 2019
“A structure that invites visitors to take in the view, and while they are there, ponder on the slippery nature of time passing. As visitors approach the sculpture from the three paths leading to the site their first impression might be of a large stack of timber drying within the heart of the forest. Harvested at Kielder, this neat mass of timber embraces the materiality of the forest whilst also forming a minimal sculpture in juxtaposition to the surrrounding landscape.” – Official Website
Artist’s Website: www.david-rickard.net/
Newcastle University School of Architecture 2018
Located in Kielder Calvert Trust area of the forest ‘Calvert Trust Kielder is respected globally as a leading provider of outdoor experiences for disabled people’. This is an area full of outdoor activities. “Calvert Pavilion, provides a place for guests and their families to enjoy watching their friends take turns on the zip wire. The pavilion is formed from a series of repeating bays, each capped by a triangular peaked roof section. CNC cut varnished plywood panels divide and screen the spaces, and similar materials are used to create seating in each bay. “– Official Website
Webpage last updated 2021