sculptures galore

Cass Sculpture Foundation

The Cass Sculpture Foundation is an exhibition unlike any other. Located in Goodwood and perfect for families, art enthusiasts, novices and collectors, the ever-changing array of sculptures are set in 26 acres of grounds that are a delight in themselves. Sprawling woodlands reveal hidden glades which, in turn, reveal monumental, hidden sculptures, ranging from the classical to the surreal and works bubbling with humour. It takes at least a couple of hours to explore the Foundation on foot and guests are welcome to bring picnics and enjoy the exhibits at their own pace.

For those who want to cover as much ground as they can, there is a motorised buggy available, ensuring that you get to see each of the works on show. For collectors, this is an idyllic backdrop in which to see how the sculptures interact with their surroundings; they are spaced well apart from one another and there is no overlap. In addition, anyone who buys a piece can rest assured that all proceeds are split between the artist and the Foundation. For those who simply want to dip their toes in the art world, there are no better surroundings in which to enjoy art for art’s sake.

A Fairtrade Commercial Art Gallery

The Foundation was established as a charity in 1992, by Wilfred and Jeanette Cass. Inspired by works from their own collection, from sculptors such as Henry Moore and Elizabeth Frink, they travelled to other sculpture parks to discover a new way of displaying exceptional works of art. Drawing on insights garnered from the likes of the Netherlands’ Kröller-Müller Museum, the Hakone Museum of Art in Japan and Louisiana in Denmark, the foundations for the Cass Sculpture Foundation were laid down. Its mission was to commission new works from emerging and established sculptors. This mission is ongoing and, to date, the Cass Sculpture Park has helped to produce over 400 works. A self-sufficient and independent organisation, it relies on the sale of pieces and visitor entrance fees to continue its work. Previous commissions include sculptures from the likes of artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Tony Cragg, Anthony Caro and Rachel Whiteread. As a result, the Foundation has been described as a ‘Fairtrade commercial art gallery’; many collectors prefer to buy pieces from here, as they know that the profits made will not only pay the artist, but will also be used to support and encourage new and emerging sculptors.

Surround yourself with Sculpture

A visit to the Cass Sculpture Foundation is as serene as you could hope for. After a short introduction and orientation, visitors are free to roam the grounds and enjoy the sculptures or find a quiet spot and simply unwind. Although the Cass Foundation welcomes around 10,000 visitors per season, the grounds are so expansive and the sculptures given so much breathing space that it’s easy to assume that you’ve got the whole place to yourself. While the exhibitions only run between April and November, visitors who can’t make it during those months can ring in advance and arrange an off-season visit, at no extra charge. Fees are £12.50 per adult and £6.50 per child, over the age of five. There are discounts available for students and parties of more than 10 people. For those who feel that one visit just won’t be enough, there are annual passes available.

On arrival, visitors are given a map of the gardens and an A3 sheet, giving key information about the exhibits, installations and sculptures they will encounter on their travels. In addition to the maps, the four routes are highlighted by swirling, metal, yellow arrows. However, many tend to go where their noses – or their children – take them. As forms and figures peep out from between the trees, the sight of younger visitors scampering from one to the next is fairly common. To complete the air of tranquillity, many of the paths have been left as natural as possible, with tasteful, wooden decking to cover any terrain that might be problematic. The Cass Foundation provides the perfect environment in which to introduce children to the world of sculpture; a blend of intrigue, charm and the chance to run around – an option lacking in the majority of museums or galleries! However, supervising adults need to be aware that children are not permitted to climb on or play with the exhibits – no matter how tantalising or tempting they may look!

A Look behind the Scenes

For those with a more esoteric appreciation of art and sculpture, a visit to the Cass Archive can be arranged. The Archive is a superb and unique resource for anyone who wants to know more about a particular sculptor, work – or just wants a greater overview of how the Foundation works and what it does. There, you’ll find maquettes of all the works that the Foundation has played host to, as well as racks of large-scale drawings that supported or accompanied artistic proposals. In addition to giving visitors a greater understanding of the Foundation’s mission, this also provides a singular opportunity to see how different artists and sculptors approach their work. The Archive is carefully and beautifully laid-out, with cabinets and shelves displaying the evolution of various works in various media, such as metal, wood and plaster. This is a valuable resource for any collectors who want to know about the development and history of an intended purchase.

Also indoors is the Visitors’ Gallery, which plays host to a constantly-changing, small-scale exhibition of works, giving artists the chance to display their creations in an institution that has achieved global recognition and credibility within the art world.

Preparing for your Visit

With the focus on presenting art for anyone to enjoy, no matter how new or seasoned they are to sculpture, the Foundation has made the conscious decision not to install a café. While there are drinks on sale at the front desk, and an honesty-system for tea and coffee, visitors and families are encouraged to bring their own picnics and make themselves at home in the grounds. There are dedicated picnic areas, for those who want to sit on a bench and eat from a table, but it’s not uncommon to find a family enjoying their home-made treats just a few feet from a work that they are drawn to. However, it’s worth knowing that the only dogs permitted on the grounds are guide-dogs.

There’s a small onsite shop, selling limited edition prints of artists’ works, jewellery inspired by some of the exhibits and artistic curios, such as laser etchings and laser-cut

Finding the Cass Sculpture Foundation is fairly simple. If you choose to come by car, it’s only 60 miles from London and 30 miles from Brighton and Southampton. The nearest city is Chichester, which can be found on the A272, which is just minutes away.

For those who prefer to travel by train, the nearest stations are Chichester and Barnham. With each being just five miles from the Foundation, it’s easy to hire a taxi. Believe it or not, it’s also possible to fly to the Cass Sculpture Foundation. However, you will need your own aircraft! Should you be one of the lucky few, there are private aerodrome facilities available from the Goodwood Estate, which can accommodate fixed-wing aircraft up to 12 metres in length.

Art is for Everyone

The Cass Sculpture Foundation is much more than just beautiful grounds and stunning sculptures; it’s an autonomous institution that supports the arts in everything it does. Founded by a husband and wife with a profound passion for creative works, the Foundation has become “a not-for-profit commissioning and educational organisation that provides a platform for artists to achieve new levels of ambition and share their work with a wider audience.” Art is for everyone and the Cass Sculpture Foundation is the ideal place to discover the truth behind those words.

Did You Know..?

1) The Fourth Plinth, in London’s Trafalgar Square, was temporarily occupied with a series of works from the Cass Foundation, including works by Rachel Whiteread, Mark Wallinger and Bill Woodrow.

2) Only one sculpture has ever been stole from the Foundation’s grounds: an abstract, bronze evocation of Venus by sculptor, William Turnbull. Foundation founder, Wilfred Cass, believes that “it’s probably in the garden of some villa in Crete, right now. At least it shows that British sculpture, nowadays, is in demand.”

3) Wilfred and Jeanette Cass founded the Cass Foundation, by selling off their prized collection of works by artists such as Henry Moore, who was a personal friend of the family.

Related article: Major Chinese art show at Cass in 2016