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New arrivals in our Sculpture Garden

Our Open Art project took a significant step forward with the arrival last week of sculptures by renowned artists Yinka Shonibare CBE RA and Li Li Ren, establishing London’s first gallery-based sculpture garden within our expansive three-acre gardens. Free for all to enjoy, they join the Gallery’s two existing works by Peter Randall-Page and Rob and Nick Carter. 

Material (SG) IV (2023) by Yinka Shonibare CBE was originally born out of the artist’s Fourth Plinth commission Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle for London’s Trafalgar Square in 2010. The sculpture takes inspiration from the ship’s sails, enhanced with Shonibare’s signature Dutch wax batik fabric. The large-scale colourful sculpture, standing at four metres high, will be the first work visitors see when they arrive at the main entrance.     

To find a way home (2023) by Li Li Ren is made up of five patinated bronze works, clad with gelatinous glass forms, evoking natural corals. The colours speak to the acidic colour palette of sea creatures, which for Ren represent the sublime in the natural realm. Ren scaled the pieces to encourage interaction, with movement through and around them cultivating intimate moments with each individual work. 

The arrival of these long-term loans signals the first phase of the Gallery's ongoing transformation. Over the next two years, our sculpture garden will expand with a carefully curated selection of thought-provoking installations by established and emerging contemporary artists. Each carefully chosen work will aim to spark curiosity and engage visitors through interaction and exploration.

Open Art extends beyond the sculpture garden. It encompasses a comprehensive transformation of our outdoor spaces, including the reimagining of a currently underutilised meadow and the creation of a dedicated family and schools building which includes a new lunchroom and play facilities. This interconnected masterplan aims to create a vibrant destination where art and nature seamlessly intertwine, offering captivating experiences for visitors of all ages.

Funding and how you can support 

It will cost £4.9m to achieve our vision for Open Art and we are currently actively fundraising for this project. Any donation, large or small, will help us.

Donate to Open Art

Here's what the artists had to say: 

Artist Yinka Shonibare CBE RA said: 

“The Wind Sculpture series was inspired by a project I did in Trafalgar Square, ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’. After working on that project, I realised that the wind was doing something quite interesting to the sails and that they could be sculpture in themselves. I’m looking forward to seeing the piece in this new context, within the Dulwich Picture Gallery gardens.”   

Artist Li Li Ren said: 

“To find a way home is a reflection on how deeply interlinked all life is. The works are about connection, synchronisation and the possibility of belonging, manifesting in these coral-inspired shapes, which highlight the strangeness and beauty of nature’s biology. The work negotiates new territory at Dulwich Picture Gallery, enriched by their permanent collection which features so many references to the sublime qualities of nature.”