02:20pmAndrew Dickson / Art & Architecture
If the heat, crush and trading-floor atmosphere all gets a bit much, Frieze does offer a way out. The Sculpture Park is a cool, tranquil oasis tucked just round the corner in a quietish spot of Regent’s Park.
Even better, unlike the rest of the fair, it’s free to get in: if you can’t face the crowds and don’t happen to have a large wad of moolah burning a hole in your pocket, it’s tempting to say avoid the rest of the event entirely and just stroll around here. The art’s thinner on the ground, but lovers of natural colour do get plentiful compensation – the trees are just approaching their iridescent, red-gold peak. But get there today: if the Met Office is right the wind will have those leaves off before you can say Nat King Cole.
Pieces on display vary in quality, but there’s an attractively austere Anish Kapoor marble (called, even more austerely, Marble), resembling either a giant bath standing on its end or – depending, I guess, on your mood – a small-scale sepulchre. Situate yourself in front, though, and the thing turns into a giant sound reflector, a little alarmingly if you happen to be murmuring sweet nothings to your partner while sauntering past.
More sonic interest awaits next door, with the slightly more elusive What Every Gardener Knows by Susan Hiller – a sound installation buried in the flowerbeds that produces a chime every quarter-hour. We waited patiently for it to sound, only to find it drowned out by a car alarm going off just round the corner (not, I was disappointed to discover, emerging from Julian Opie’s pair of toy-like automobiles nearby, Imagine You Are Driving a Blue/Yellow Car).
But for me the most engaging piece was Pedro Cabita Reis’s You Shouldn’t Walk Over Ploughed Fields (2005), an installation of 50 or so fluorescent tubes aligned in rows on the grass and facing towards the sky. Why the title? We speculated for a while. My friend suggested that it was if light itself was buried deep in the ground, exposed as if by a plough. Or was it more ecologically minded – warning us off the greenfield spaces we persist in concreting over? Satirical comment on the wastefulness of light pollution?
Anyhow, it’s probably worth waiting until twilight for this one, when it illuminates the undersides of surrounding trees – and, again, those lovely leaves – in a crepuscular, creepy fashion. And if you go at dusk, as my (rurally attuned) companion pointed out, a strange and uncanny thing happens: birds, presumably fooled by the light, get stuck into their dawn chorus.