SHAPE SHIFTERS The county is on countdown to Yorkshire Sculpture International and Stephen McClarence finds out more about the creative celebration.
s Yorkshire gears up to stage the UK’s biggest sculpture festival over 100 days this summer, Clare Lilley reflects on the art form’s powerful potential impact. “Some people get very involved with particular sculptures,” she says and as Director of Programme at the award-winning Yorkshire Sculpture Park, she’s well placed to know. “Sometimes when we move a sculpture, people can get very upset. And we have one lady who comes every day.” She and colleagues at the sweepingly landscaped park, between Wakefield and Barnsley, have been working with The Hepworth Wakefield (2017 Art Fund Museum of the Year), Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute to create Yorkshire Sculpture International, which will run from 22 June to 29 September. This £1.4 million event, backed by a £750,000 Arts Council grant, will bring world-class sculptors and their work to the county, including two new public commissions for Leeds and Wakefield city centres. Together, the four venues make up the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle (the Henry Moore Institute shares a site with Leeds Art Gallery), but this is the first time they have worked together on a project. “It’s a unique consortium,” says Jane Bhoyroo, the International’s producer. “All the organisations are well-known nationally for sculpture; we want to make them known internationally. We want new audiences to come.” Between them, the venues already attract more than a million visitors a year to an area often described as “the birthplace of modern British sculpture”. West Yorkshire was quite literally, in fact, the birthplace of the nation’s two most famous sculptors – Henry Moore (born in Castleford) and Barbara Hepworth (born in Wakefield). Both trained at Leeds School of Art and were inspired by Yorkshire landscapes, sometimes in unexpected ways. In later life, Moore looked back, apparently fondly, to “the slag heaps of the Yorkshire mining villages... which for me as a boy were like mountains. They had the scale of the Pyramids.” In the Sixties and early Seventies, Yorkshire perhaps underplayed this sculptural heritage. The opening of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1977, however, changed all that. It was the brainchild of Peter Murray, an art education lecturer, who organised a sculpture exhibition in the grounds of Bretton Hall College, where he worked.
Top to bottom: Huma Bhabha - We Come in Peace, 2017 - Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York. Ayse Erkmen - Glass Works 2015 - Cadhame Halle verriére de Meisenthal France 28 June – 30 August photos by Valery Klein.