Creative corner of Yorkshire: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We continue with our series of ‘creative corner’ blog posts which not only promote the arts within Yorkshire, but to also encourage and continue creativity throughout this challenging time. It is more important than ever to be supporting the arts.

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On two recent visits to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, two months apart, one lockdown in between and about ten degree difference in temperature.

A visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park always feels like a sigh of relief.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (or affectionately YSP) is situated just a stone’s throw off the M1, yet no hum of cars can be heard. Spanning over 500 acres, the calm sanctuary of woodland shows off works by world-renown sculptor’s such as Barbara Hepworth and is home to the largest display of Henry Moore’s bronzes.  

Detail of The Family of Man, by Barbara Hepworth (1970)

The first visit was on a balmy Saturday in September – lockdown restrictions feeling like a forgotten bout of sickness, yet the second visit was a bleak, moody Saturday in November, in the midst of another lockdown. The contrast in visits manifests how the sculptures can mimic the moods of the weather, a kind of pocket of pathetic fallacy.

A visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park always feels like a sigh of relief. Stretching out of the car whilst taking in the first glimpse of sculpture nestled amongst the Yorkshire landscape.  Going from the manic motorway to a majestic oasis of calm in just 5 miles adds to the relief of arriving.

All schools should be art schools by Bob and Roberta Smith (2016)

By fusing nature with the architecture of sculpture, YSP allows to be experienced and enjoyed by anyone.

Their mission statement of showing off ‘Art with no walls’ is exactly it. Visitors are able to engage with works by moving around them (no touching of course) and experience an interaction with surrounding nature. The paths around the site allow visitors to freely roam amongst the works and the visitor map (albeit somewhat confusing) and ensure that hidden sculptures can be spotted, often hidden amongst trees, grassy patches as if nature has claimed them back.  

Some works such as Moore’s reclining figures are weathered and have become part of the grassy landscape, framed precisely by lake and grass; whereas the gaudy colours of Damian Hirst’s The Virgin Mother punctures the landscape around it, both physically and emotionally – terrorizing and interrupting the tranquillity.

Detail of The family of man by Barbara Hepworth (1970)

Both visits, only months apart, sparked reflection and creativity, and one cannot come away feeling refreshed, not only by the fresh Yorkshire air, but by the bold frankness of such sculptures: their structure and defiance in their environment.

Thank goodness that places like the Yorkshire Sculpture Park exist and more importantly, remain open during times when we need them the most.

Whether it is experienced in balmy late summer sunshine, or in biting cold with relentless drizzle – Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a true sanctuary for everyone, a celebration of British and world-class sculpture, and a truly creative corner of Yorkshire.

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