Not Vital

Gardens, Yorkshire

This is your introduction to YSP. ‘Pelvis’

No, it’s Not Vital to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on a perfect Autumn day, when the trees are at their burnished best, flaunting their chromatic colours just before the November squalls tug down their rusty leaves.  It’s Not Vital at all.  But it’s a brilliant way to spend a Sunday.

Once, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park was a stately home – the 18th century Bretton Hall – belonging to the Wentworth family. Just after the war it became a teacher training college specialising in the arts, until it was taken over by the University of Leeds.  During those final years, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park was founded in the college parkland by Bretton Hall lecturer Peter Murray.  When the college closed, Yorkshire Sculpture Park took over the estate grounds and lakes.

Bretton Hall and its surrounding parkland.

Some exhibits – particularly by those two sculptors who grew up so near to Bretton Hall, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, are semi permanent.  But most artists shown there exhibit for a season or so, and you’ll find their works placed all over the extensive parkland: on the lawns, overlooking the lakes, waiting to be discovered on a woodland walk. Art appreciation combines with views across the distant Pennines, and a good healthy work-out across shady woods, formal lawns, lakes, pastureland and country bridle paths.

Henry Moore’s ‘Draped Seated Woman’ looks down over the distant wooded lake.

And I’ve been teasing you.  Not Vital is the name of one of those sculptors exhibiting at the moment. It’s his work ‘Pelvis’ that greeted us as we came into the park.

He was raised in a remote part of the Swiss Alps, and developed a strong affinity with nature.  Much of his life has been nomadic, and he engages with the artisans he meets on his travels to create works from local materials, pushing known technologies to the limits.

Here’s The Moon, a highly polished stainless steel sphere which reflects the environment it’s placed in.  Those craters are based on photos of the moon, and individually produced by Beijing craftsmen.

Not Vital: ‘The Moon’.

And here’s Hanging and Weighting, an unsettling plaster and steel construction that surely, surely is about to slide to the floor?

Not Vital: ‘Hanging and Weighting’.

I wish I’d taken more photos of his arresting and thought-provoking works – such as his self-portrait as a North Korean peasant, which is blank and faceless.

A taster of more on offer yesterday.  Here’s KAWS Small Lie, a dramatic and monumental wooden sculpture of Pinocchio.

KAWS’ ‘Small Lie’.

Here’s Richard Long’s Red Slate Line, marching us inexorably forward – into the lake….

Richard Long's 'Red Slate Line'.

Richard Long’s ‘Red Slate Line’.

….. that’s if we haven’t tripped over Hemali Bhuta’s Speed Breakers – bronze tree roots conceived to be stumbled upon as we explore the woods.

Hemali Bhuta's 'Speed Breakers'.

Hemali Bhuta’s ‘Speed Breakers’.

Come and have a virtual tour of the park.  And if you get the chance, visit the real thing.

Parkland at YSP with distant sculpture.

22 thoughts on “Not Vital

  1. I thought the racing horse worked really well in the parkland. Did you get to the chapel? Brilliant exhibition when we last went there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No we didn’t. So much to see, so little time….. We vowed to go more often so tried not to stress about things we hadn’t crammed into the day.


  2. Margaret – I really must get out and walk this weekend, it was on my list but the vital (urgent and pressing) suppressed non-vital (important, but not urgent). Thank you for the inspiration. Lovely photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes simple pleasures have to be upgraded to ‘urgent and pressing’. But it’s hard, I know, to make the time. Have a not TOO busy week!


  3. I always think that sculpture wrongly plays second fiddle to quite a lot of fifth rate 2D work on the fêted canvas. Lovely to see a selection of interesting work, but better for you in real life if you were permitted to touch them as well.


    1. I agree. And touching’s nice too, though I couldn’t have done without the family that had spread their picnic out all over Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman, lap and shoulders included.

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  4. We went last year and loved it, although one of our number (school friend) and her husband just didn’t get it which added to the entertainment. As always the H Moore’s were wonderful also sculptures in the lake. Yes, Nessie did have a good life and was on her fourth passport, French.

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