Summer in Britain has been pretty miserable – with much of July and August a washout. So when the weather forecast for Thursday was promising we decided it would be a good idea to take a day off work and go out somewhere and enjoy a rare bit of sunshine. As we’d enjoyed our visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park earlier this year, we decided to make the journey over the Pennines and have a look at their new exhibitions. Set in a country park, with a pleasant walk (uphill!) of a couple of kilometres between the two main galleries, and with plenty of works in the grounds to look at as well, a visit to the YSP is a good way to combine a bit of culture with some exercise in the countryside.
The exhibition in the Underground gallery, with some works displayed outdoors on the lawn, showed works by Peter Randall-Page, a British sculptor. There are over 50 pieces in the exhibition, many of them large scale sculptures carved from granite boulders and other rocks, including two massive pieces, “Corpus” and “Fructus”, each weighing more than 13 tonnes and over two metres high, that were created especially for YSP from Kilkenny limestone .
I really liked his large scale sculptures. They were abstract pieces with complex patterns carved into their surface. My natural reaction was to want to touch them, to feel their surface and texture. It was possible to do this for the pieces displayed outdoors, but this was strictly prohibited for the work inside the gallery.
Indoors there were three large spaces, each displaying a number of sculptures together with works created from tiles, fragments of fired brick clay, which were used to create symmetrical abstract patterns on the wall. In a fourth room there were smaller works, which were really experiments, trial pieces and models for larger sculptures, together with sketches and drawings. These allowed the viewer to get an idea of the process involved in the development of his ideas and works.
The larger stone sculptures reminded me of some of the pieces displayed during our visit in April, when there was an exhibition of works by Isamu Noguchi. He was obviously an influence and I later read in the exhibition guide theat they had corresponded in the 1970’s.
In the entrance space there were four spectacular pieces collectively titles “Shapes in the Clouds (Plato Dreaming of Artemis)”, smaller in scale than most of the other sculptures. They were carved from a stunning marble, which had a structure which revealed very fine delicate, swirling patterns. I could see why the artist compared them to clouds, but J said that they reminded her of the patterns that you can see on Jupiter and the other gas giants and I think that this was a good description of how they looked.
Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the gallery, but I was able to take some photographs of the works displayed outdoors (and to touch them!). The Guardian has some pictures of the exhibition, including works from inside the gallery, on its website. There are also reviews by the Guardian and New Statesman.
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