The ever so wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park has been named UK Museum of the Year. We are lucky to have such a wonderful resource on our doorstep. As the name implies, it is an area of 500 acres which has a very impressive collection of modern art ranging from Henry Moore to Antony Gormley to Ai Weiwei.
The sculptures and works of art are displayed all around the impressive Park. If like us you opt for the wander randomly approach you are always surprised at what you come across. My most recent visit was on a warm summer’s day a few weeks ago. It was a day suited best for slowly exploring the park rather than racing round. The first thing we encountered was some very adorable sheep – real sheep not sculpture! I am not sure how many roam the Park but they are all very used to the public and so are ridiculously tame. They graze happily around the artwork.
There is something very rewarding about see large pieces of artwork in an outdoor setting. It helps you get a sense of the scale of it all. Art and nature meeting ….
Our latest visit was to see the Ai Weiwei exhibition which is in and around St Bartholomew’s – a restored 18th century chapel in the park. Weiwei‘s iron tree was outside the Chapel. It’s very impressive and will change colour over time as the iron rusts and weathers. Inside the Chapel were his 45 chairs. All the chairs were incredibly old. Each chair was different and made you think of all the different people who would have sat in them over the centuries. You are encouraged to sit in them and take time for contemplation. When they were built, these chairs would have been for the privileged classes in China. Now they are available for anyone from any walk of life to sit in. The most remarkable thing about the exhibition is that Weiwei had to organise it all over Skype and email as he is still unable to leave China. There was other of his artworks inside the Chapel including a map of China made from reclaimed wood.
As well as the art, you have the beauty of the Park which covers a considerable area. There are lakeside walks with an array of birdlife to be seen. It really is a lovely location. The grounds and gardens are superb. There is also an impressive 18th century country house – Bretton Hall – which used to be part of Leeds University.
If you get the opportunity, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is well worth a visit.
I took these photos when I was there. I apologise for the quality – I’m a rubbish photographer – but it gives you some idea of the Park.