The Yorkshire Sculpture Park – what a brilliant destination for international art in the great outdoors!
Tammy’s weekend trip to one of the UK’s biggest outdoor art complexes far exceeded her expectations.
It’s been nearly 20 years since I last visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and it seems to have doubled in size since my previous trip – to an amazing Andy Goldsworthy exhibition, now you ask.
There is an impressive ‘underground’ gallery, a lovely wild walk through the flower meadows and ancient woods to the new Longside Gallery, and a cool cafe on a terrace overlooking the sculpture gardens.
Importantly, there is also that vital ingredient of any gallery trip – a cracking shop with some great takeaway Miro prints!
Miro the master
The Miro exhibition in 2012 was a stunner… and one of the park’s best ever art shows.
It featured over 100 sculptures, lithographs, collages and etchings from the Catalan artist’s incredible career, including some rarely seen works from his later life.
It’s been described by Miro’s family as one of the most important exhibitions of the artist’s sculpture ever staged… and I for one wouldn’t argue with that.
Inside the indoor gallery, I was struck by the vibrant colours, the rich visual motifs, and the power of the works to move and inspire the viewer today.
A somnambulist stares out at us with a half-closed eye, with a surge of blacks, reds and blues swirling out from his dark presence.
Next door, a series of lithographs impress with their gorgeous out-pouring of colour which recalls the Catalan landscape and its artistic traditions.
Outdoors, there were a number of impressive sculptures on the terrace and around the gardens.
My favourites include Femme Monument, which features a large egg-shaped object on top of a hollowed-out rectangle, and Personnage Gothique, Oiseau Eclair.
“Sculpture must stand in the open air, in the middle of nature,” said Miro, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the perfect setting in which to realise the marriageof art and landscape.
It’s hard to add more words as the quality of the art speaks for itself… and it has to be said that if this exhibition had been in London it would be on everyone’s ‘best of the year’ list.
Art in the park
But the inspiring art doesn’t stop there. Take a walk over the fields to the Longside gallery on the far side of the park.
On your way you’ll encounter over 60 sculptures including Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man, Antony Gormley’s One and Other (atop a tree) and Jonathan Borofsky’s towering Molecule Man.
The Longside gallery is currently hosting Flashback, a small but impressive Anish Kapoor exhibition with some decent star exhibits including an engine-powered barrel of fluid that looks like swirling oil but is actually coloured water.
Also, look out for Kapoor optical illusions and his playful use of depth and dimension.
The temptation to touch the highly tactile Kapoor works is almost too much!
On the way back it’s worth walking to the James Turrell Skyspace – the Deer Shelter, a contemplative space where you sit looking upwards towards a square void beyond which the sky changes depending on the type of day, season and weather.
Tammy’s Top Tips – Yorkshire Sculpture Park
This is a large site so allow plenty of time for your visit. It’s easy to walk between the many attractions but for some folk this may be a few steps too far. If you’re feeling lazy, the Longside shuttle bus runs every 30 minutes between the two main galleries which are about 2 km apart.
The walk up to Longside is scenic but takes around 40 minutes uphill through fields. A good plan is to catch the bus on the way up and walk back through the woods (down hill) to see the woodland sculptures on your return leg.
Look our for guided tours and events.
There are stone carving and stone walling courses for those who are rather better at handling big rocks and mallets than I am. Plus, there’s puppet making and paper folding activities for wimps like me!
There are two cafes – one in the main visitor centre (with a terrace) and a smaller cafe in the grounds. There’s also a food and drinks kiosk outside the Longside Gallery with a small seating area.
It’s not Tammy’s forte but here are some practical tips…
- Wear sensible shoes and not Jimmy Choos. The parkland was very muddy when we visited after heavy rain and the path to the Richard Long piece was very boggy!
- Admission to the park and galleries is free but there’s a £8 daily charge for cars. Entry is free if you cycle into the park.
- Yorkshire Sculpture Park is located on the Bretton Estate at West Bretton south of Wakefield and close to Sheffield. It is very well signposted from major roads and even popped up on the Sat Nav.
- Why not combine the visit with a trip to the striking, new Hepworth Gallery in nearby Wakefield (free), a must for contemporary art lovers.