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Yorkshire Sculpture Park
2006-09-03: We spent Saturday at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It's near Wakefield just off the M1 and free to get in (but just a little bit to park the car). We loved the main building, it was a bit Corbusier-ish and a bit like living a CAD walkthrough. They could have done with having some decent books in the bookshop though.
The main Yorkshire Sculpture Park buildingThe main Yorkshire Sculpture Park building
I rather liked this by Kenny Hunter .. partly because I liked the flower bunch salute but also the large pendant or brooch she's wearing .. although I might be misunderstanding that.
A work by Kenny Hunter at YSP, Sept 2006
The James Turrell work is both moving and rather mindbending, and his exhibition seems to have been extended until December (I think) although the website doesn't seem to reflect that as I write. He's a Quaker, apparently. Another notch in favour of that religion .. there have been a lot of those recently.
A work by James Turrell at YSP, Sept 2006A work by James Turrell at YSP, Sept 2006A work by James Turrell at YSP, Sept 2006
The Deer Shelter, also by Turrell but a permanent feature at YSP I think, is a skyspace where people sit around on polished concrete seats looking at the sky through a hole in the roof. At first, we couldn't make out what we were seeing because the sky, having rained most of the morning, was a featureless white so there was nothing to focus on, but as it cleared the whole thing really worked. You could spend all day in there. Shocking events happen .. a bird might fly past or a twig blow past on the wind, and you can't help yourself but gasp and grin. One bird flapped happily past, very high, singing for all the world. A leaf blew into the shelter. No really, it's fantastic.
The Deer Shelter by James Turrell at YSP, Sept 2006The Deer Shelter  by James Turrell at YSP, Sept 2006The Deer Shelter  by James Turrell at YSP, Sept 2006
The Art Fund might be worth an investigate too.
I was very moved by Alec Finlay's Propagator, a greenhouse containing .. as I remember it .. pots with plants labelled with a mesostic .. oh hang on, I'll let him explain it. The one that got me was Olive:
The Propagator by Alec Finlay at YSP, Sept 2006
My favourite and most moving piece was Gerry Loose's Seed Catalogue .. again I'll let him explain:
Seed Catalogue by Gerry Loose at YSP, Sept 2006Seed Catalogue by Gerry Loose at YSP, Sept 2006
Besides the interesting stuff there were lots of traditional sculptures knocking around in the fields by, for instance, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Antony Gormley.
A Barbara Hepworth work at YSP, Sept 2006A Henry Moore work at YSP, Sept 2006The surface of a Henry Moore work at YSP, Sept 2006 (dark spots are raindrops)One and Other by Antony Gormley at YSP, Sept 2006
I found some textures I liked:
Texture, YSP, Sept 2006
The landscape can be effortlessly stunning:
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006
Some practical reporting for you: Knaresborough doesn't have a lot of accommodation and it's reasonably expensive so we really struggled to find anything at all .. apparently our date clashed with a carpet exhibition in Harrogate. We got a cancellation at The Yorkshire Lass, a pub opposite the entrance to Mother Shipton's Cave and on the bank of the river Nidd. The pub's probably famous for its home cooking as that's what it was, and the visitors book contained lots of good comments. We found it a bit meaty, but the vegetable casserole in yorkshire pud was wholesome.
The Yorkshire Lass, KnaresboroughMother Shipton's Cave, KnaresboroughThe River Nidd, Knaresborough
We found it almost dead in the bar on a Saturday night and wandered over the road to The World's End which operated a bit like the Cheese Shop Sketch where it displayed lots of lovely real ales, Ruddles County, Black Sheep, Deuchars IPA, but none were available. As a sign of the times, the barmaid was, I think, Polish, and the following night was a Polish night.
Quite by chance on our night, The Slim-Line Papas were playing. Pete O'Brien's the wild main man with real skill on double bass, Egly Lucas makes all his own guitars, while the skill of Sam Saunders was evidenced by someone who got up in the interval (at the band's invitation, they are well up for jamming, teaching people how to play the instruments and so on) to play the kit who just bashed away without any of the subtlety Saunders was clearly employing. Plus, he introduced me to a spring drum. I want one. If they come to a venue near you and you feel like you need perking up, go see.
Another thing tied the day together. One of my big interests is colour. I feel like I could spend the rest of my days investigating colour spaces. This follows a lecture at uni in which it became clear that both RGB, the colour space used in web design, and CMYK (printing) leave perhaps 50% of all perceivable colours unrepresented. In other words, what we see on screen is a very poor representation of real life. The same problems must beset artists .. purple is a recent colour for paint which is why it's associated with royalty because it was expensive to produce at first and only they could afford it. James Turrell's Deer Shelter cuts through all of that by framing the real thing. It's the ultimate HDTV. Similarly, listening hard to the Slim-Line Papas, the drum sound was really gorgeous, and the rest was too but you could tell everything else had been amplified. That whole process of collecting the sound with a mic, amplifying it, and throwing it out again through a speaker stack distorts and changes the sound, and it loses its subtlety. The drum sound was the real sound of the kit, with nothing inbetween. Part of the pleasure and draw of skiffle, for me, is its acoustic nature, as an antidote to highly produced dance and pop music. Acoustic is real.
Of course, I found lots of natural things to be inspired by. The berries are full-on this year and it reminds me of my twelve year old (or so) self laying in bed reading what were old books then, so maybe they were published in the forties or fifties, about the natural history of Britain, and the illustrations, watercolours probably, on plates, of the different plants and animals. I remember one book had a textured cover, and inside were tales of kids having a secret friend in the woods, a man who lived there and who had a doormouse living in his jacket pocket. Yes, I know what it sounds like, that's another sign of the times. He'd take them on adventures to see badger cubs and so on, stumbling upon all sorts of interesting bits of plant and animal life along the way. I spent a good few weeks trying to find a doormouse so it could live in the pocket of my school blazer. I rather like gathering these emblematic images, I imagine perhaps some ex-pat Brit would enjoy them or a Japanese or Russian person. Maybe they are as British as London buses, Beefeaters, and invading countries populated by swarthy people. Anyway, I enjoy documenting the norm because before long it ain't norm any more.
Hawthorn berries, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006Elderberries, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006Apples, Yorkshire Sculpture Park Sept 2006Blackberries, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006Is this sycamore, but a different variety?, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006Don't know what tree this is, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006Don't know what tree this is, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006
This, particularly, took me back. I remember the drawing of the Robin's Pincushion gall in that book. I don't know whether this, in Knaresborough, is exactly that, but it's the same sort of thing:
A gall, perhaps a Robin's Pincushion, Knaresborough, Sept 2006
There were quite a few of these around which I don't see in Scarborough, both in Knaresborough and at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. My best guess is a Speckled Wood.
Speckled Wood? Knaresborough, Sept 2006
Finally, I have to mention the YSP map. It's a real lesson in how not to do it.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park map, Sept 2006
Would it not be reasonable to assume, given that the lakes are blue and the convention for representing water in blue, that there were some water features about the bottom right of the map, encircling A and B particularly? And there's that yellow path that goes through the trees just to the west of there. From B, too, we could see buildings close by, looking North (Update: upwards, another problem with this map is they've defied convention and turned the map around so North is at around 5 oclock: altogether now: reasons to be confused, 1, 2, 3). In fact, all that striped area where you're not supposed to go is a completely built-up university campus. Some indication that that area contains buildings would be nice. So we got lost walking through that until we exited the other side to look back and see a small sign partly hidden by bushes that said it wasn't part of the park and we weren't allowed in. Still lost, we tried to find that yellow path leading to the lower lake. Four of us, two very good mapreaders, couldn't work it out until it hit us. Those yellow and red paths aren't paths and the blue 'moat' isn't water. They mark the edges of zones. The paths are those insignificant looking thin brown lines. So you'd think the zones would be significant, given their prominence on the map. We couldn't see how. We couldn't work this out either:
Markings, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sept 2006
What are those markings? What do they relate to? The colour of the disc might relate to a zone, but it's a different colour to the one on the map. The blue arrow? The yellow B? Haven't the foggiest. It's a discipline of its own, representing information in a clear way. The London Underground map is an obvious success, the YSP map isn't.

By John Allsopp
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