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Runnymede Sculpture Farm

Early Forms by Tony Cragg

This past weekend I was a sculpture docent at the Runnymede Sculpture Farm in Woodside. Runnymede (also written up here, with an interactive map of the property here) is a large private property with over a hundred outdoor sculptures; it’s rarely open to the public and then usually just for guests at non-profit fundraising events.

This weekend’s event was the 50th anniversary celebration for the Committee for Green Foothills, an open space advocacy group on the peninsula. Personally, I hadn’t heard of the CGF, but the Student Conservation Association, who I have worked for in the past, was organizing volunteers and I jumped at the chance to see the property. I don’t generally think of myself as a huge sculpture person, but I knew that Runnymede has an Andy Goldsworthy piece, and I’ve caught glimpses of some of the sculptures from the freeway on my way to Woodside. I’ve now done enough sculpture posts to have a sidebar category for sculpture so maybe I’m more of sculpture guy than I thought.

Blue Gate, Leaning Ring, and Two Arms Akimbo by Sam Perry

I ended up being the docent for the Andy Goldsworthy piece on the property. I took photos of it, but there are a lot of them and it’s far from the first piece that you see on the property, so I’m going to post them separately in a few days. In the mean time, I have a bunch of other photos from the property, posted below.

Horse Head for Runnymede by Ilan Averbuch

Along with the Goldsworthy piece, this horse head by Ilan Averbuch is my favorite. Goofy, a little spooky, and skillful. I also like the other work on the artist’s website.

The Horses Mouth

I went up close and took a look inside the proverbial horse’s mouth to see how it was built. There’s a metal frame inside, with the stone mounted using mortar and bolts. I like how the drill scars on the stone are suggestive of teeth.

Horse Head for Runnymede by Ilan Averbuch

The same artist has another stone and wood piece nearby. It’s titled ‘Cage’ and I’m guessing that it is sort of thought of as as an abstract of the horse’s ribcage.

Cage by Ilan Averbuch

Rising Cairn by Celeste Roberge

The other fun use of stone is with these gabions in human forms. Again, a little goofy but cool. The artist, Celeste Roberge, has some other interesting works that mix dry-stacked rock and furniture.

Walking Cairn by Celeste Roberge

Ape Sculpture by Roger Herman

I like the ape sculpture made with cast concrete, but I did wish it was made with stone. I’m not ashamed of my stone bias.

Shidoni by Bill Barrett

Oak Tree by Anonymous Squirrel

Aside from the sculpture, the place is beautiful on its own merits, and the oak trees have some of the most impressive sculptural forms on the property. One sculpture, A Journey/A Place, seemed to be made out of the same posts used to support the limbs of this nearby oak tree. I don’t know the story with the tree, why it would be the one living tree on the property that was braced, but that spot on the property is called the picnic circle and there is an old wooden playhouse beneath the tree, so maybe it was a cherished tree a couple of generations ago. The picnic circle does indeed seem like a perfect place for a picnic.

A Journey/A Place by Linda Fleming

A Deceased Tree by Natural Causes

Along with the living tree, there was also a dead one with braces still holding up the limbs. If I went back to more carefully photograph anything at the site, this tree might be it. Sometimes the only thing more impressively sculptural than a living tree is a deceased one.

Symbiosis by Mark di Suvero

The collection has a lot of large pieces made of steel. The Cor-Ten, especially, looked great with the trees. Cor-Ten might be getting a bit overused in contemporary landscapes these days, but it really does look great with our oaks and hills.

Kitsune by Charles Ginnever

I’ll post the photos of the Goldsworthy in a few days.

Didymous by Charles Ginnever

6 Responses to “Runnymede Sculpture Farm”

  1. September 27th, 2012 at 10:44 am

    James Golden says:

    I really like these sculptures, and I like them in the landscape. But something bothers me and I can’t really put my finger on it or understand it. I’d prefer that these be in their own landscapes, not gathered together into a kind of exhibit. The feeling is almost one of disappointment that we have to do these group things in order to have access to the sculptures. In other words, I love the sculptures, I thank you very much for the post, yet I feel ambivalent about it all in the end. But that’s okay.

  2. September 27th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    ryan says:

    James, thanks. I think I have some of the same feelings. There can be a sense of treating the landscape as an outdoor museum that is off-putting. In person, though, the landscape is really large and feels bigger than the collection in a lot of ways, and walking around was a genuine landscape experience, a sense of the trees and hills that was enhanced by the sculpture rather than diminished.

    At the same time , though, somewhat in keeping with your comment, I realize that my two favorite pieces are Goldsworthy’s ‘Clay Works for Runnymede’ and ‘Horse Head for Runnymede’ shown above, both pieces that were specifically commissioned for the site and the only two pieces that have ‘Runnymede’ in the title. If the collection just consisted of those two pieces in this wonderful oak woodland, I might feel just as enthusiastic.

  3. October 1st, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    James says:

    I’ll echo the previous James in feeling that there’s a certain outdoor exhibit look to the pieces–and that’s just judging from the photos. Charles Moore talked about some landscapes being best perceived as collections, and this sculpture assemblage really IS a collection place outdoors. The Goldsworthy piece you show in the other post really begins to address the site and really be OF the site instead of just ON it.

    The cairn pieces are kinduv fun. But a functional bank of these cairns, multiple pieces piled one on top of the other, would be incredibly creepy.

  4. October 6th, 2012 at 10:06 am

    ryan says:

    I think you are both onto something. I wonder if the exhibit feel has been increased by how I photographed things.

  5. November 13th, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Brenda Broomes says:

    Love your pieces. Where are you located? Do you teach?

  6. November 13th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    ryan says:

    Thanks. I’m in Richmond, CA. I occasionally teach workshops.

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