What is folly! 2018?

Four striking and surprising new artworks have emerged into the landscape here at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal as part of Trust New Art this spring, recreating the ‘lost follies’ of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What is folly!?

folly! is our family-friendly contemporary art programme, part of Trust New Art, taking place in the water garden of this World Heritage Site.

Since 2015 folly! has celebrated the playful, whimsical style of the Georgian water gardens. From a giant black raven in the Banqueting House to a glittering chandelier depicting the debauchery and excess of 18th century entertaining, folly! is about thought-provoking, unexpected artwork for all. 

What's happening in 2018?

From 28 April – 4 November (exc. 2 Nov) you can see the third instalment of folly! This year is very different to previous years with new installations moving outdoors and appearing on the sites of the garden's lost follies.

These colourful outdoor installations have been designed by international artists and architects FleaFolly Architects, Charles Holland Architects and Studio Orta.

The water garden as eighteenth century visitors would've seen it
Studley Royal Water Garden in the eighteenth century
The water garden as eighteenth century visitors would've seen it

The lost follies of Studley Royal

Each artist has each been commissioned to create new experiential installations within the Georgian water gardens. These dramatic works will re-imagine some of the lost follies of the garden revealed by historic drawings and paintings – the whimsical Rotunda, the Bathing House nestled in the hillside and the tent which once stood atop Tent Hill.

Local school children have let their imaginations run riot as part of a competition to create the design for the fourth new folly, as part of a collaboration with the North Yorkshire Society of Architects. The winner is Foster Carter from Catterick Garrison school. Watch out for Foster’s innovative design for a folly, which you’ll find by Studley Royal tea-room.



But what is a folly?

Follies are fashionable, whimsical buildings or structures that were often used by 18th century garden designers to catch the eye or draw attention to a carefully created vista. Here at Studley Royal visitors to the gardens would explore the gardens with stops for decadent picnics at each of the follies: the Banqueting House, the Temple of Piety, the Temple of Fame and the Octagon Tower. 

Open until Sunday 4 November 2018*

Follow the trail or simply happen across these pieces of work as you explore the gardens. Step inside, listen closely for drips and drops from the lost bathing house and discover a wide new perspective on the garden in these creative installations.

*Estate is closed for winter hours on Friday 2 Nov (but will open again for Fountains by Floodlight in the evening)

Please note, the estate will be closed on Friday 2nd November but we shall be open again for the final weekend of folly! on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 November. 


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Explore folly! 2016 

Featuring work by artist Mat Collishaw, one of the UK’s most thought provoking contemporary artists, two new installations were co-commissioned with London Gallery Blain|Southern to play with your senses and trick your eyes!

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Find out where it started with folly! 2015 

Visitors who peered inside the Octagon Tower, Temple of Piety and the Banqueting House in folly! 2015 were surprised to find extraordinary installations created by artists to re-animate these fanciful garden follies.

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