Tag Archives: Art

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

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.

Iron tree

 

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A bit of culture on a Sunday afternoon …

The collected letters of Jane Morris

I don’t often do anything of a cultural nature on a Sunday but today was different.  I saw a talk advertised and thought to myself, well that sounds interesting.

The talk was about the Letters of Jane Morris and was delivered by the authors of the book shown above.  Now, the depths of my ignorance are great that I had no idea who she was but recognised her face from many of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s paintings.  Time to find out more, I thought to myself, so booked a place on the talk which took place at lunchtime at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Bradford.

The talk was fascinating.  Jane Morris (nee Burden) was bought up in poverty in Oxford.  Her distinctive features brought her to the attention of Rossetti and Burne-Jones who asked her to model for them.  Both these artists were close friends with William Morris, a key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.  An introduction was made and the inevitable happened.  Morris fell in love with Jane and they married even though it was highly probable that Jane was actually in love with Rossetti.  Fortunately for Jane, Morris was a wealthy man.  His money enabled her to be privately educated and to become refined to the extent she could move easily in the highest circles.  She proved to be highly skilled in the art of tapestry and worked alongside her sister, Bessie, to bring to life the sketches made by her husband.

She continued to model for Rossetti and before long they began an affair.  It was fairly common for an artist’s and his muse to become the lovers and this case was no exception.  The affair lasted for many years and, as you can imagine, put a strain on the friendship between Morris and Rossetti.

Personally, I would not say that Jane was a beauty.  She is striking and distinctive but to my mind, not a beauty.   I always think she looks really miserable in the paintings.  After the talk I went to the look at the Rossetti exhibition.   It was an opportunity to compare photographs and sketches of Jane side by side.  I am sure it is the only occasion when I will ever be in a room with some many Rossetti paintings and sketches of the same woman.

In case anyone is interested there are links below to the exhibition in Bradford and to a website that has more of the history of Jane Morris.

http://www.bradfordmuseums.org/whatson/event_detail.php?ID=778

http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/jane-morris-an-enigmatic-muse/

It is sometimes very rewarding to do something on a whim.  I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon in Bradford.