Things to do: See the Restless Temple in Cornwall

The Restless Temple is unique sculpture, created by artist and designer Penny Saunders, that moves in every sense of the word. Based on the form of an ancient temple, the sculpture turns the associations we have with these places: stability, permanence and durability, on their head by visibly subjecting its structure to the forces of nature.

Each piece of the sculpture is hollow and secured with tensioned steel, the product of complex engineering that required input from advisors ARUP, King’s College London and Bristol University among others. The artist herself also undertook an intensive study of engineering in order to make the project possible. What she has created, after more than 15 years’ work, is superb – a segmented temple-like structure that sways according to the whims of the wind.

On the sculpture website, where you can also read more about the fascinating engineering process, Penny Saunders writes:

“Temples are usually made of stone, stand still and glorify mortal and immortal power. I started to think about this temple in 2000, as a monument to our ambitious and precarious ingenuity – always at the mercy of the forces of Nature. This temple moves between the powers of wind and gravity.

Its columns are hollow, just a light cedar skin. The engineered strength is similar to that of a ship’s mast. A core of tensioned steel runs from temple top to the counterweights at the bottom.

It’s uncertain how long the temple will ride the storms and survive intact. Any decay is seen as part of its journey. Hopefully it will have time enough to attract plants, mosses and lichens.”

The Restless Temple is a mesmerising work that is worth viewing at any time of day or night, and will be on display until 30 June 2017. Find it on top of a hill in the Tremenheere Sculpture Garden,  Gulval, Penzance, TR20 8YL. For full details visit


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