We had an extraordinary adventure last weekend, venturing north to Chester, Liverpool and Yorkshire to visit a couple of places I’ve always wanted to see.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park covers 500 acres and promises ‘art without walls’; hundreds of astonishing, permanent and rotating works by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.
Housed in the Chapel amidst the grounds was a breathtaking installation by artist Cornelia Parker (above and below). Neither From Nor Towards is a suspended work of hundreds of weathered bricks from a row of houses destroyed when cliff-top erosion on the south coast caused them to fall into the sea. The rounding of the bricks is organic, caused by the battering of the waves and relentless tides before they were eventually retrieved from the water. It was mesmerising and beautiful, and for a few minutes we were the only visitors in the room.
One of the wonderful things about YSP is how interactive and accessible all of the sculpture is. Even for this most fragile and stunning work, there were no ropes or barriers, and Harry was immediately offered a stool and a drawing box so he could have a go at recreating it;
Just outside the Chapel stands Iron tree by Ai Weiwei; a 6m high tree made of 99 iron casts from different trees, roughly bolted and screwed together;
We roamed through the woods, which looked beautiful, still strewn with spring bluebells and with wintery light radiating through the trees (it was freezing that day; bright but cold..)
We spent hours there, and took hundreds of photographs (I will spare you, I promise), and touched and stroked and admired a myriad of different sculptures, big and small. If you ever have the opportunity to go there, I can’t recommend it enough.
The next day, we went to another place. Literally, to Another Place; Antony Gormley’s iconic line of standing figures which are set along more than a mile of the tideline of Crosby Beach, looking out to sea….
The pictures above are from the first installation of the figures, at Cuxhaven on Germany at an estuary of the Elbe, before they were relocated to the UK. Gormley said of the sculpting process ‘The sculptures are made from 17 body-casts taken from my body (protected by a thin layer of wrapping plastic). The sculptures are all standing in a similar way, with the lungs more or less inflated and their postures carrying different degrees of tension or relaxation’. I think I would have erred towards a posture of tension myself, if wrapped in plastic and encased in plaster. Here he is at work, on a different project;
We went to Crosby beach at first light, and they looked equally powerful; rusted now and covered in barnacles;
Extraordinary, and beautiful, and powerful enough to have stayed in my mind constantly all week. It made me remember how much I love to visit places like this (and how easy it is to get derailed by motherhood and plate-spinning and the guilt of self-indulgence. I needn’t have worried; we all had a ball…).
Where have you been lately that’s moved you or blown your mind? I’d love to create a new list of must-visit places…
Have a wonderful weekend!
All photos my own apart from those of Cuxhaven, via here and of Gormley’s Domain Field workshop via here.