Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A fabulous couple of days in the sun-drenched Yorkshire landscape, enjoying parkland regulars, such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, as well as special exhibitions showing works by Cornelia Parker, Martin Creed and Grayson Perry.  YSP is celebrating it’s 40th Anniversary with a major exhibition of Tony Cragg’s oeuvre, which included an Artist Talk on 1st June (which will be a separate post). Viv and I had wonderful time.

Tony Cragg:  A Rare Category of Objects

Here are a selection of Tony Cragg’s diverse works – more to see in the video below. The exhibition was curated by Helen Pheby.  Read an article written by her here.



Tony Cragg in the Underground Gallery:



Tony Cragg in the Garden Gallery:


The Garden Gallery had his one ceramic work, Church:


Well, he did said in his Artist Talk that he wasn’t skillful with clay…………




Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art

The 60s – a decade when ‘neutral’ and ‘colour’ didn’t appear in the same sentence.  I’m loving this.  We waited 30 mins for the shuttle to Longside Gallery on Thursday, only to find the gallery was closed for the day – disappointed. But it was worth waiting for.


Here are my favourites:


Wow, great jumper!



This exhibition was in the beautiful 18th century chapel.  Outside of which is Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree, a composite constructed from 97 casts of different trees, and held together by a traditional Chinese method. It expresses the individuals that unite to form the whole, references memory and culture, and represents life, decay and the passage of time as it rusts. Not that this is part of the exhibition, despite it’s classic construction methods. As the name suggests, the exhibition is concerned with buildings and architecture.


After the tree, the exhibition was a bit disappointing. For me, there is no concept deep enough to make art videos remotely interesting.  A three-hour unedited film of ‘My Grandfather Sleeping’ or people intermittently and self consciously moving over/into/out of lines or boxes doesn’t float my boat. There were videos…

But I’d gone to see the Cornelia Parker. I like her work and have been to several of her exhibitions.  Incidentally, she’s also a friend of Viv’s daughter, Yvonne. Loved the concept – collection of sea-worn bricks from houses washed into the sea. I made notes on/took photos of the construction, as I’m playing with the idea of suspended pieces in my own work.  From above, the bricks should coalesce into the form of a simple house with pitched roof.  This didn’t work for me or for others looking from the gallery.  I could see it once I’d read it, but not before. Interesting.  The bricks had been graded for size, with the smallest forming the roof.  Even though the roof end had the most layers, the brick pieces weren’t dense enough to create the image.  This is essentially very different from depicting an exploding shed. While she needs to create the feeling of the bricks coming apart as a metaphor for the houses being destroyed, she also wants to use our brains fantastic ability to ‘fill in the gaps’ to perceive the house image. Tricky. Perspective also worked against it. Plus the window at the roof end was a far greater draw than the exhibits. Much to be learnt from this for my own practice.


She gave an Artist Talk at YSP the following week:

I was interested in Anya Gallaccio’s doors because I’ve often wondered why double glazing isn’t used as a space for sculptural form.  In fact, I designed some double glazing sculpture years ago. The trend for triple glazing offers more opportunity.  No, it’s not very ‘arty’, but this IS an exhibition about buildings so it’s allowed. As an artwork, nice doors, but not saying anything new. Far from it. Doors = common – some might say trite – metaphor for the passage of life’s events. Flowers rotting = pretty much the same, but with the opportunity for an historical reference to Vanitas. I really love her metal tree at the Whitworth, though. Perhaps I’ve been looking at too much art? Perhaps I only like metal trees.


The red Gerbera beginning to rot

However, I did enjoy Susan Collis’s State Border.  It looks like a discarded piece of battered wood, leaning forgotten against a wall, but it is painstakingly crafted from special woods – sonokeling rosewood, bog oak, white holly, walnut:


I think it raises all sorts of questions about craft skills and art; intrinsic value and perceived value; art concept and art object.  Very interesting and thought provoking.

Having read this back, I realise that Re[construct] was a bit disappointing as an experienced exhibition, but reflected upon, it’s given me much to think about.  The opposite is true of the 1960s Colour exhibition.


Tread Softly

An exhibition of childhood, early relationships and identity. Jackie Kay’s poems are central to the exhibition as she reflects on key moments in her life as a black child adopted into a white family. My favourite exhibition photograph and a favourite Jackie Kay poem are in the short video below:

‘National Treasures’ were well represented. A Grayson Perry vessel, securely exhibited behind glass. To be honest, I couldn’t really make out the narrative. A bear? A dress?  A sheep. A poem – ‘I was a mad kid, Now I ain’t, I got out Coz I could paint’. Photos for you, Jane – hope they show how wonky the pot is.  Who needs symmetry?


Grayson Perry

And Tracy Emin narrating a well-told tale of her artist-ego youth:

If she really had that many men then ‘The Tent‘ would have needed to be ‘The Marquee’. Good story, though.


Sculpture in the Park

I’ve been so lucky with the weather every time I’ve been to YSP – this time was no exception. The park was as packed as Blackpool Beach in the 1960s. ‘Don’t touch’ is the order of the day. Most exhibits without plinths now have a roped exclusion zone.  I was pleased to see that this didn’t stop the many children interacting with the sculptures. Barbara Hepworth would have been pleased to see kids scaling her ‘Squares with Two Circles’ (1963) to frame themselves for family photos.  Barbara believed in touching sculpture:


They loved the new addition to the park, Zak Ove’s Black and Blue: The invisible Man and the Mask of Blackness, 80 replicas of Zak’s childhood doll, which looks at black diaspora, identity yada yada…….. Kids couldn’t care less.  They ran with gleeful faces, took position next to a doll ….. and up went the hands:

Zak Ove
Zak Ove + Two

Kids and adults picnicked in Tony Cragg’s Caldera, hid in and sat on the Anthony Caro’s, chased each round the Sol Lewitt, and posed with all manner of exhibit. It was great to see people engaging with sculpture so directly.

Touching in the past has left it’s mark. Many of the Henry Moore’s have brightly polished areas from 40 years of stroking and selfies. I think it adds to them, a physical memory of all YSP’s visitors throughout the years and the pleasure they have gained from engaging with sculpture.  For me personally, it’s a physical memory of photographing my friend, Linda, and posing with my mum – both of whom have since died.



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