We arrived at Buckland Abbey early afternoon and the sun had finally come out. We parked up and walked down to the entrance to the National Trust site which is in Yelveton, Devon. We showed our membership cards, saving us £12.10 on top of the £3 for car parking. We made our way into the Ox Yard area which houses a gallery, second hand bookshop and Ox Yard Restaurant with outdoor seating. There was also a small room which played a video all about the Abbey and its connection to Sir Francis Drake. It detailed the life and adventures of Drake and helped to set up the history of what we were about to look around.
We had been told at the entrance how there was currently an exhibition by contemporary artist Andrew Logan being displayed throughout the Abbey and surrounding estate. The exhibition is entitled “The Art of Reflection” and is said to tell the story of the spirit of Buckland through 18 colourful sculptures. Apparently the exhibition is one of the largest exhibitions ever hosted in a National Trust property and I overheard one of the staff members say it had been two years in the making. I was interested to see how contemporary art would fit in such a traditional and historical property.
The Great Barn was first port of call and we came across the first of the sculptures from Andrew’s exhibition – the huge golden corn strands with hanging glass butterflies and mice “Goldfield”. You could walk through the corn and see it close up; it was quite cool but possible looked slightly out of place in such a grand old barn?
We went on to enter the Abbey and walked around various rooms with lots of history, artefacts and art within them. There’s a lot to look at and there was the additional extras from the exhibition which I must say look slightly odd – they had placed the bright colourful sparkly pieces of contemporary art next to the old traditional artefacts. It was a little hard to see how the items placed together were related. The large unicorn sculptures were quite random too “Pegasus – Birth, Life and Death”. Whilst I liked the ideas behind sculptures and they were interesting to look at, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would have been better placed in a room on their own as part of an extra exhibition instead of trying to be integrated into the existing and traditional displays – unfortunately I don’t think they quite fitted.
We walked around some of the gardens and saw the large glass sword “Excalibur” from the exhibition placed in the Cart Pond. There’s various walks you can take from the Abbey which one day I’d like to return to partake in. However, for today we had done enough walking and decided it was definitely time for an afternoon tea!