'Chaos' garden scoops £100,000 museum award

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The United Kingdom's largest work of art - a three-acre piece of landscaping based on the concept of chaos theory - has won one of the nation's biggest arts prizes.

The United Kingdom's largest work of art - a three-acre piece of landscaping based on the concept of chaos theory - has won one of the nation's biggest arts prizes.

Described as part sculpture, part garden, part "land-art", Landform is sited in the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, which is being awarded this year's £100,000 Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year in recognition of the work.

It was created at the request of the Gallery by Charles Jencks, the American architectural historian, as a way of using the land around its building.

Jencks said he pictured "a contemporary equivalent of Seurat's La Grande Jatte - everything going on at once, amid sun, water and city life. You could eat lunch, perhaps have a drink, chase kites ...".

At a cost of £380,000, the result is a stepped mound with three crescent-shaped pools that took two years to build. The Gallery says that not only is Landform a work of art in its own right, but it also functions as a backdrop for outdoor exhibitions and creates a link with its sister building, the Dean Gallery.

The award was made last night at a ceremony at the Royal Academy in London. Richard Calvocoressi, director of the Gallery, said in a statement: "We are honoured to have won this prize. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and its surrounding parkland, have become a special place in the UK for appreciating outdoor sculpture, which Landform has done much to enhance.

"We are absolutely delighted that the Gallery has been recognised in this way and we intend to use the award to continue with developments in the grounds and to make them an even more stimulating place for our visitors."

The Gulbenkian judges said they were "captivated" by Landform . Loyd Grossman, the chairman, said it was an "inspirational, beautiful" project, adding: " Landform has the potential to change people's ideas about what a museum does and can do."

The three other finalists, from a shortlist of 13, were the Museum of Antiquities at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne for its Reticulum project, a scheme to introduce schoolchildren to its collection of Roman remains; Pembrokeshire Museums service for Varda, a travelling exhibition of Romany history and culture; and Norton Priory Museum and Gardens in Runcorn, Cheshire, for its Positive Partnerships programme, which allowed people with learning disabilities to work alongside museum staff.

The prize is funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which was founded by one of the biggest private collectors of art in the world. The United Kingdom branch also runs funding programmes for arts, social welfare, education and Anglo-Portuguese relations.

Jencks and his wife, Maggie Keswick, have also designed what is considered to be one of the most beautiful private gardens in the world, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, at Portrack House in Dumfries and Galloway.

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