If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. Or at least you are in this particular West Sussex wood, where gramophone-headed elephants on bicycles roam side-by-side with eerie mirrors and reclaimed copper and corten steel human casts. Established by Wilfred and Jeannette Cass in 1992, Cass Sculpture Foundation occupies the surrounds of the couple’s home on the Goodwood estate – the non-profit body supports emerging and established artists alike, commissioning sculptural works and ploughing all of its profits back into new projects. Exhibiting and commissioning over 400 works from the likes of Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley, Gavin Turk, Thomas Heatherwick and Eduardo Paolozzi; the foundation is a welcome surprise in these beautiful English woods.
And what has taken us to Wilfred and Jeannette Cass’ enchanting grounds? A further surprise. Perennial Christmas family favourite, The Famous Grouse, are moving to shed some of their ‘old-timer’ image – to “transcend the blended whisky category”, and are starting this journey by collaborating on a sculpture with artists Marshmallow Laser Feast, Studio Roso, and a crack team of engineers. Asking Joe Public to pop themselves along to www.somethingfamous.com and divulge just what they’d like to be famous for, The Grouse will be laser-cutting the results onto aluminium strips which will comprise this unique sculptural work. Confidence is clearly riding high in the camp that their end-product will be something special; from the ethereal elegance of Peter Burke’s monolithic Janus Head, to Ace of Diamonds III, one of Lynn Chadwick’s final works (and valued at £3 million) – today’s tour has raised the bar considerably high.
As the rain falls and the sun shines, new addition Encampment, by Diane Maclean, takes on an empyrean aesthetic – but, as the evening sets in, our heaven for the day is divine cheese, good food and a final surprise. Familiar with The Famous Grouse’s classic blend, premium product The Naked Grouse is a warmly-received revelation; aged in first fill sherry casks, and based around single malts from Highland Park and Macallan, it’s a smooth smacking of toffee, cinnamon and gentle spices. A peaty, bold version of the brand’s iconic blend completes the trio, and leaves us warm as autumn finally sets in. If you go down to the woods today, you’d do well to top this surprise.