Only in its first season, the innovative and enchanting Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park is already successful beyond expectations.
Now it has added another and useful pleasure – a gallery of small pieces under cover.
There is already the weekend art gallery in the lovely old boathouse on the shore, run by the Tighnabruaich Gallery. This new small sculpture gallery offers visitors not only the undercover browse that makes a visit worthwhile if the weather is bad but extends the range and type of private spaces the gallery can provide sculptures to enliven.
Open until Mid-October 2012, the commercial outdoor gallery on the shores of the Kyles of Bute has been steadily selling the selected artwork it exhibits since the week it opened back at the end of June this year (2012).
Karen Scotland, whose home is Ca0l Ruadh and is, with Anne Edmonds, a partner in the business, is about to welcome a collection of artists to Caol Ruadh for a few days.
These are candidates for next years’ exhibition programme and they are coming to workshop a familiarisation with the nature of these quite magical and playful gardens, offering light and shade, distance and secretion, woodland, terraced lawns, shrubberies, a lily pond, a burn, rock bluffs and shoreside to their imaginations .
After that they will make proposals to Caol Ruadh on what pieces they might contribute, some chosen from existing work, some made specifically to show in specific places in Caol Ruadh.
Karen and Anne will then make their selections, with the artists committed to delivering the work in time for it to be installed within the overall curating and ready for next year’s rolling exhibition – which may open much earlier than was possible this year..
Apart from its sheer beauty, shaped and managed but seemingly informal, Caol Ruadh’s compelling draw is that that it’s never the same twice. The weather, the light and the tides change the context; pieces get moved around to locations that may come to seem a better marriage; new pieces arrive and some of those sold are hungrily removed by their new owners.
Caol Ruadh’s concept is not to go for the massive all-but-immovables but to keep within a scale of what is possible and usable in private gardens.
Caol Ruadh, Colintraive and opportunity
Apart from its own attractions, it now creates a reason for people to come to Colintraive for its own sake and not simply to catch a ferry over the minutes-long ferry crossing to Bute.
This offers an opportunity and a challenge to Colintraive to extend the facilities it offers to people who are now coming to spend time in Colintraive.
The village has no cafe but it has stupendous views. You do not need ir want a huge menu – just a few things, each of which is so good people will come back just to have it: first class coffee, really good fresh scones, a small selection of delicious little sandwiches and good quality home baking.
If Colintraive had something like this, people would start exploring beyond Caol Ruadh, arriving early for a ferry or taking time there before setting off into Cowal. And super takeaway coffee is a godsend for tired drivers.
There is the well regarded Colintraive Hotel, where food, drink and leisurely comfort are available – a perfect and leisurely resource for visitors having a day out to the area to see the sculptures at Caol Ruadh.
But nothing does the specific job of a first class cafe, with a great view and quick service.
Once you cross to Bute, there is no obvious place for coffee until you get to Rothesay. Coming the other way in to Colintraive – you can forget coffee until you get to Dunoon or Strachur – and, if you miss Strachur you have to go on to Inveraray or Luss, both well out of the Cowal peninsula.
There is a basic business opportunity here that could be developed by someone in the village with an entrepreneurial spirit, would support other business development in the area and would not conflict with but complement the hotel.
Caol Ruadh opening times
- Wednesday – Sundays: 11.00 – 18.00
- Tuesdays: By appointment only
- Mondays: Closed, except on Bank Holidays)
These are valid until mid-October 212.