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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Any reader planning an autumnal outing to Stourhead, one of the country’s great created landscapes, should be warned that they may be in for a nasty shock. The trees, the lake, the follies are all as artifice intended, but the area has suffered a nasty attack of artistic intervention. Called Beauty and the Beast, this ranges from an Elizabeth Frink head and some plinky ambient music in the grotto to Beth Carter’s transformation of the Gothic cottage into a sinister gingerbread house. Most intrusive of all is Kieran Brown’s creation of an island, seemingly made up of car tyres, to mar the tranquillity of the lake. Stourhead is exactly the kind of perfect environment where we would prefer not to have our preconceptions challenged or our sensibilities offended. But for those of stronger stomachs, who want to consider questions such as ‘Is Ugly Corrupt?’, Beauty and the Beast runs until 29 October.

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