Charles Jencks is one of the world’s greatest living architectural landscape artists, and creator of the sensational Garden of Cosmic Speculation, one of the most important gardens to have been created in the last few decades. Situated just outside of Dumfries, my home town, and only open one afternoon each year, I have been lucky enough to visit a couple of times.
I have been excited for some months now since the unveiling on June 21st of this year of Jencks’ latest creation, the Crawick Multiverse, a monumental monument to space, astronomy and cosmology. Coming home this year for Christmas and New Year meant that Maria and I could visit this spectacular project on a blustery but thankfully dry Monday wintry morning, having it all to ourselves to explore.
The Multiverse is located just outside of Sanquar in Galloway, Scotland, and is open throughout the whole year, with the car park being closed in the winter months, but still remaining open to pedestrians. (Visitor information is available here).
Two different walks can be taken, one a low walk and the second a high walk which as you can see in the official photograph above, offers spectacular views of the entire park. However, it appeared that this high path was closed, maybe to protect it due to the high volumes of rain this region has been suffering, and so we just explored the lower sections and landforms.
There are nine major features which it is possible to explore, climb and walk around:
- Two Galaxy Mounds – Andromeda and The Milky Way
- North-South Path
- Comet Walk
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation was built in the grounds of Jencks’ own house, and with so many mounds having a delicate constitution, such as the moss which is damaged by just one footprint, it is simply not possible for the gardens to be open to the general public without a large number of wardens. The Multiverse was constructed on the site of a former mine, and while visitors do need to stick to the paths while climbing the various structures, need less protection.
One or two of the structures were in fact closed due to the need for repairs, so if you do visit, please respect any signs and roped-off regions. Having said that, it does appear that the Multiverse is accessible even at night time, and I can imagine there being some extremely enchanting possibilities, such as being there to see the stars, or in the light of a full moon.
It is amazing to me that not only Jencks, but his patrons and creative team have managed to create such an engaging and inspiring landscape which offers the possibility of exploration, contemplation, play and ceremony. As with The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Jencks’ creations can be so mindblowing, it is not necessarily possible to fully engage in a meditative manner in the first instance, as you are either exploring, taking photos, or just taking in the art without attempting to over-analyse. Maria and I will certainly be returning, quite probably many times, in many seasons, with different weather, and of course, as different people, since the whole universe is in a state of constant change, ever evolving, never static.
Full information about the Multiverse can be found on the visitor website.