Trust Switzerland to keep the best hidden away in picturesque mountains that you’ve seen only on the back of a milk carton. In Basel, known for, well, Art Basel, venues for creative expression are scattered everywhere.
Thirty minutes away from the city center by car, meanwhile, in Kloster Schoenthal, at the Sculpture Park in Lagenbruck museum, there are 33 different artworks from 23 world-renowned artists. You would need some comfortable walking shoes and a tumbler of water.
In 2000, the former cloister—built in 1145 by Benedictine monks—was transformed into “a place of cultural encounters.”
It was surprising to me, but with the landscape of beautiful Lagenbruck, it’s a must to integrate manmade masterpieces in nature’s perfection. These site-specific works were created by the artists who first took into consideration the landscape and the history of the place.
For instance, Richard Long’s “Cowshed Ellipse,” a massive sculpture found in the cloister’s old stable, is like a silent resident overlooking the fields.
But before you see that, you need to hike up the hill and stop by a steel vessel which contains the macabre mobile of bones and teeth created by Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger. Surrounding it are small wild strawberries you can pick and eat to keep going.
You need a keen eye to spot the other works, which seem unimposing amid trees and flowers, such as William Pye’s “Vessel.”
Some works can be creepy, such as Martin Disler’s “The Shedding of Skin and Dance,” and Nicola Hick’s “Crouching Minotaur.”
You may opt to stay overnight at Kloster to soak up the experience. Seminar rooms are also available.
If you need a retreat steeped in Switzerland’s immersive and contemplative approach to art, nature and life, Kloster Schoenthal should be on your wish list.–CONTRIBUTED