Jupiter Artland - Art garden grows with academic input

What started as a one-off digital project funded by an Innovation Voucher has led to an ongoing relationship between a unique 100-acre contemporary sculpture garden and Edinburgh Napier University.

Owners of Jupiter Artland, Nicky and Robert Wilson opened the gates to their 100-acre Midlothian estate seven years ago, and last year alone welcomed 50,101 visitors. However, they wanted to harness digital technology to give visitors an enhanced experience - whilst keeping the artworks centre of attention.

In 2010 Jupiter Artland successfully secured an Innovation Voucher through the Scottish Funding Council to develop an app and digital content consisting of  stories told by local primary school children inspired by a visit as well as an audio tour for the visually impaired. They worked with Edinburgh Napier University to develop the bespoke product.

Following the success of that project, Jupiter Artland and Edinburgh Napier continued work on the bespoke app for iPhones, launched in 2014 and aimed at visitors as they walked around the grounds. The new app uses GPS location triggered functionality to create an interactive experience for the user,  to bring a deeper knowledge about each artwork using aerial views, maps showing the sculpture’s locations and videos of the artists talking about the creative process. There is even a “dog’s eye” view of the artworks via video which gives a unique perspective and reaches parts of the gardens people don’t normally see.

Another exciting feature of the app is the third eye section which allows users to receive alerts as they walk about past events or exhibitions which are no longer there giving film, photographs and information through the app– acting like a window into the past.

Tom Flint, Programme Leader, BSc (Hons) Interactive Media Design, at Edinburgh Napier, said:

“Our relationship with Jupiter Artland is very strong and continues to bear fruit. Working with Jupiter Artland is invaluable for our students as they get the opportunity to produce real world projects. The team at Jupiter is very open to our more esoteric ideas and will happily allow us to explore the boundaries of the real and the physical in ways that less open organisations might not.” 

Dr Iain McGregor, a sound design specialist at Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing, added:

“We started with the audio guide and extended and improved content for each iteration of the project which began with MP3 audio guides through Wand audio guides and the iBook, finishing with the iOS app.  The process was very enjoyable and relatively smooth, with the client being very happy with the work completed at every stage.  We are keen to continue to collaborate with Jupiter Artland, and are looking forward to working on other interactive media projects.”

A new version of the app is coming out soon which will take up less space on iPhones and an Edinburgh Napier student will be creating a virtual version of Jupiter Artland for the hugely popular computer game Minecraft this summer.

Owner Nicky Wilson said:

“We have quality content that is being delivered in an amazingly open and free and clear way. It’s fun and it’s brilliant.”

Her husband Robert added:

“The app is highly intuitive so it’s easy to work it out. The beauty is some visitors want a lot of information and some want a little and this app offers both.”

Education Director at Jupiter Artland, Diana McMicking, said:

“It’s been a really fantastic process in lots of ways for us as an organisation. It’s made us question. It’s made us develop. It’s made us professionalise. There have been all sorts of ways we have had to move things forward and grow.”

Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.