Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We had a quick stop last weekend on way home from St Helens, stopping to see family around Sheffield.  We met at YSP as there is a memorial plaque on a tree in the park to a family member.  Pretty special place to have one.  As time was limited, this visit we stuck to seeing the newer sculptures.  Tony Cragg was great as were the 80 sculptures by Zak Ové, Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness.  Pretty impressive lined up as an army and great title for the sculptures. Ai Weiwei’s Ai’s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (2010) is also on display.  We saw a much smaller version of this at Blenheim Palace back in 2014.  And there is a serene head of cast iron called Wilsis by Plensa; almost as good as The Dream by Plensa in St Helens!


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Visited Brighton very briefly at the end of a day out.  Wandered down Trafalgar Lane to look at some of the graffiti.  And ate a cherry and raspberry bakewell at the Little Bird Cafe in Kensington Gardens; seriously one of the best cakes I’ve had in ages.

Visited the Ditchling Museum to see the Eric Gill exhibition curated by Cathie Pilkington.  I am an admirer of the latter’s work and intrigued by the premise of the Gill exhibition as I do find his sculptures technically brilliant; does knowing the biography of Gill affect how you view the works?

Ditchling was Gill’s home from 1906 to 1924, a place of great innovation and creativity for the artist but also the village in which he sexually abused two of his teenage daughters…..Within Gill’s work, the human body is of central importance; this major exhibition asks whether knowledge of Gill’s disturbing biography affects our enjoyment and appreciation of his depiction of the human figure.

The museum and village are rather lovely and it is always great so see Cathie’s work.  The Green Welly Cafe does a mean cheese and ham toastie on granary bread with ginger chutney too.  Does it affect how you view the work?  Go and see for yourself.


Third time we’ve gone underground in 7 months.  First the Hellfire Caves, then Clapham South and now Chislehurst.  And what did 2 have in common?  Marvellous mannequins and ghost stories.  Chislehurst Caves have a history of chalk mining and went to on to store munitions in WWI, opened to tourism in the 30’s, acted as air raid shelters in WWII, became a mushroom farm and then a nightclub with skiffle bands in the 50s and rock in the late 60s/70s – some of biggest names played down there: Bowie, Hendrix, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, T-Rex and many more.  We experienced the darkest dark ever where you could not even see your hand in front of your face and were told stories of spooky happenings down there.  Great guide – just us and our trusty Victorian lamps – and some rather special mannequins.  Could have sworn one of them moved!

This is a show about the influence of Surrealism.  50 female artists are represented including Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Eileen Agar, Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas and it includes painting, sculpture and photography.  Not really for me and the experience was not enhanced by the lack of a guide given out at the front desk and no signs on the wall.  So unless you could recognise style or signature eg Tracey Emin, you had no idea who or what you were looking at.  On until 17th September.


Two great shows. The Giacometti starts with an impressive room displaying sculpted heads, moving through all his styles, and ends in a room with 3 striking, tall figures.  Everything in between is a revelation, dispelling the view of him just producing tall, thin figures.

I had not heard of Fahrelnissa Zeid and  you wonder why when you read the biography and discover how well-known she was, and when you see the breadth of her work.

Last year was a little disappointing and, after a lacklustre display from Sculpture in the City last week, I was prepared for a let down.  But it was great – 23 works organised by Frieze Art Fair that will be on show in the park until October 8.  favourites:  Miquel Barceló’s upturned bronze elephant Gran Elefandret; Vulcan by Eduardo Paolozzi; Michael Craig-Martin’s outline drawing of a Wheelbarrow (red); Final Days by KAWS and Endless Column, a totem of bronze footballs by Hank Willis Thomas.

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