The art world is often accused of taking itself too seriously. So it's no surprise that a group of international creative types jumped at the chance to show they're really just big kids at heart. Until Oct. 31, the grounds of 15th-16th century Sudeley Castle, eight miles (12.5 km) from Cheltenham, England, will be transformed into an "Artists' Playground," where works by renowned artists and architects are all about the fun to be had when you look at even the most grown-up themes from a child's-eye view.
Danish sculptor and fountain designer Jeppe Hein has provided a mirrored labyrinth, and Brit Henry Krokatsis, who usually draws with smoke, has carved a Gothic pulpit that winds round a tree. Irish conceptual godfather Michael Craig-Martin, meanwhile, has thrown in a giant pink gardening tool called Sudeley Pitchfork.
Britain's optical illusionist James Hopkins is another contributor. Littered around his studio near Tower Bridge are a crystal ball, a pub bar that morphs into a skull and a row of chairs whose backs read love he's into distortion, trickery and magic. His kaleidoscope for Sudeley (Inside Reflection) is viewed through a vast Nebuchadnezzar champagne bottle set up on a brass stand: "The story is about things making more sense through the bottom of a bottle," he says.
Nearby, at Zaha Hadid's HQ in London's financial district, the Iraqi-British architect contemplates the just-arrived model of the slide she's designed for the castle: Z-Stream. It's a flowing, reptilian polyurethane-and-fiberglass shape with a shallow slope for small children and a steeper gradient for older ones. The Playground provided Hadid with a rare opportunity for near instant gratification. Design a building, and you can wait 10 years before it's up. But with a piece like this, you can have an idea and see a model within two weeks it makes creating "more fun," she says. But the exhibition has a wider purpose, too: it shows that "playfulness is no longer limited to a particular age." Time to come out to play. www.sudeleycastle.co.uk