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News release - Issued by National Trust

Fantastical designs revealed for folly! 2018 Contemporary art for all ages at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

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

The National Trust’s contemporary art programme folly! is back for 2018, bigger and bolder than ever. Celebrating the playful, whimsical style of Studley Royal water garden, the four designs which will bring fresh colour and curiosity to the landscape in April have been revealed.

Internationally recognised architects and artists Charles Holland, Lucy + Jorge Orta and
Fleafolly will create installations for folly! 2018 to bewitch and beguile visitors of all ages to the World Heritage Site. The designs include an exotic and colourful 9m tower, a mirrored sphere which will reflect and frame the garden’s many viewpoints, and a curious echo-chamber water tower. A fourth imaginative design by a local primary school student, will create a suspended raining cloud which will collect rainwater as it falls.

Now in its third year, folly! will encourage 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, to be installed where original 18th century follies have been lost from the landscape.

1. Polly, by Charles Holland

Architect Charles Holland has designed a theatrical 9m tall tower that will sit atop Tent Hill, once the site of a period ‘campaign-style’ tent as well as a classical temple. The 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 it will be clad in timber shingles, painted in a mix of opulent colours to suggest a parrot’s plumage. The ‘head’ of the tower will house a camera obscura which will project new, focussed views of the water garden within the interior. The fantastical installation will be visible from ‘Surprise View,’ the most famous vista in the World Heritage Site, and will appear in the landscape alongside the majestic ruins of Fountains Abbey.

2. Gazing Ball, by Lucy + Jorge Orta

The site of the second installation for folly! 2018 is the Banqueting House lawn, where the Rotundo, a classical Ionic temple folly designed as a focus for distant views once stood. ‘Ornament’ will offer a dazzling reflection of the moon ponds and mirrored waters of Studley Royal; a 4m tall pentagonal steel sculpture with multiple windows of different shapes, referencing architectural details of the former folly and presenting picture-perfect framed views across the gardens to the gothic Octagon Tower opposite. The sculpture will be crowned by a chrome sphere which will catch the light and play with the reflected views of the water garden.

3. The Bathing House Listening Tower, by Fleafolly

Until the mid-1800s, a stone bath house stood opposite the moon ponds of the water garden. Fed by a nearby spring, the small folly housed a plunge pool for zealous thrill seekers. The lost folly will be re-imagined by architects Fleafolly (Pascal Bronner & Thomas Hillier) who will create The Bathing House Listening Tower; a striking 3m tall white tower topped with a copper water collector. The tower will echo the sounds of dripping water, using internal trumpets to amplify and transmit the sounds, tempting garden explorers to interact with the listening tower, hearing the sounds of the past Bathing House folly.

folly! project officer Aimee Rawson said: “We are delighted to reveal this year’s designs for folly! It’s the most exciting year yet, and we hope the works will entice visitors to discover the scale and extravagance of Studley Royal water garden. When John Aislabie created this stunning garden his designs deliberately included curious, fanciful objects and alternative viewpoints so it’s wonderful to develop these original concepts for our visitors today.

We hope to introduce many more to the garden’s mesmerising views and playful spirit – it’s is one of the key reasons we are a World Heritage Site, and alongside the original quirky and playful follies in the garden’s landscape, we hope these new striking artworks will surprise and inspire visitors of all ages.”

Folly! schools project – The Raining Cloud

A competition to design a fourth folly! run in partnership with North Yorkshire Society of Architects, was won by 11 year old Foster Carter from Le Cateau Primary School, Catterick Garrison near York. More than 1,800 children from 50 schools across Yorkshire and the North East entered the competition which encouraged children to create their own contemporary folly following design workshops led by architects. Foster’s design, ‘The Raining Cloud’, uses a 4.2m wood frame to hold up a ‘cloud’ and will be situated at Silver Pond in the water garden. The Raining Cloud will launch alongside the other installations on 28 April.

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


For further information, images and interviews please contact

Ellen Howells on 01765643189, or Anys Williams at Anita Morris Associates on 01943 603311, / @AnysAMA

Media will be able to preview the installations from week commencing 16 April 2018. Please contact Anys Williams on / @AnysAMA

Notes for editors

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal is a World Heritage Site owned by the National Trust. Amble through the beautiful landscaped Georgian water garden of Studley Royal, complete with Neo-classical statues, follies and breath-taking views. Discover the magnificent 12th-century abbey ruins and the only surviving Cistercian corn mill. There’s also St Mary’s Church, a fine example of Victorian gothic church, Elizabethan Fountains Hall with its hidden herb garden, and medieval deer park – home to over 500 wild deer.

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything the charity does.
Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 775 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than 20 million people visit every year, and together with 4.5 million members and over 62,000 volunteers, they help to support the charity in its work to care for special places forever, for everyone.

Trust New Art is the National Trust’s programme of contemporary arts inspired by our places. Many National Trust places were built with art at their heart. To continue this important creative legacy, the Trust New Art programme wasa created in 2009 in partnership with Arts Council England. The programme makes contemporary arts available in National Trust properties; builds new and diverse audiences; and offers new opportunities for artists to work in different contexts. To find out more about Trust New Art visit:

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.

Flea Folly was founded in London by Pascal Bronner and Thomas Hillier who met whilst completing their Masters in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Since graduating both founders have worked for award winning architecture practices in London where they gained experience across all sectors of the construction Industry. They currently teach Architecture at University of Greenwich, the Bartlett, and London Metropolitan University.

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.