Mungrisdale sheepfold

One of the main impacts on my lifestyle due to this damn virus (besides working from home) has been that we’ve been unable to get out and about visiting galleries and exhibitions. So this blog has become a little more one dimensional than usual focusing almost exclusively on my walking. However, during my walk from Mungrisdale a couple of weeks ago I remembered reading somewhere that there was one of Andy Goldsworthy’s Cumbrian sheepfolds near the village. Luckily I had 4G reception on top of Souther Fell and a quick internet search took me to a site that revealed that there was indeed not just one, but two, in fields near Redmire Farm. So, as I expected to get back down to the village mid afternoon and was in no hurry to drive home on a fine day, I decided to see if I could find them. As it transpired, I wasn’t entirely successful.

Reaching the car I decided to dump my walking poles in the boot as I didn’t think I’d need them crossing the expected flat terrain. Following the directions on the website I walked about half mile walk down the road and then turned off down a farm track, and climbed over a stile to take a path across a field. Looking ahead I could see that there was a small herd of cows with their claves standing halfway across the field right on the route of the path. Well, cows might seem fairly docile most of the time but can get aggressive if they think their calves could be threatened and there have been some incidents where people have been injured when charged by the beasties. I decided to be cautious and veered off the route of the path to maintain my distance from them. They looked at me suspiciously as I crossed the field and as I drew level with them they all suddenly started to charge in my direction. Now I was wishing I’d kept hold of my walking poles! As it happened they ran past me stopping at the other side of the field.

Reaching the drystone wall I climber over the stile and there was the sheepfold.

Unlike the others from the project that I’d seen, it was relatively plain – a perfectly round structure, built using traditional dry stone walling techniques, with a narrow entrance.

The instructions to reach the second sheepfold were not so clear but I carried on across the fields to look for it. I’d read that this work appears to be just a heap of gathered stones but that it contains a finished sheepfold concealed among them.

I saw this pile of stones in the next field, overgrown with vegetation. It looked a little underwhelming.

But when I checked the project website on returning home I discovered that I hadn’t gone quite far enough – it was a little further on in the next field. Ah well, at least I managed to find one of them and enjoy the opportunity to get a “fix” of sculpture and tick off another one of Goldsworthy’s structures. I’ll be up that way again, and hopefully there won’t be cows in the fields next time I decide to try and find it!

(I had to cross the field of cows again retracing my steps. They kept their eyes on me again, but this time they stayed put)

Yewdale, Holme Fell and Tilberthwaite

The day after my walk up on Great Hill I was driving up the M6 heading up towards the Lake District. I’d booked a few days in a B&B in Coniston with the intention of spending a few days chilling out walking on the fells. The weather had broken after a hot Bank Holiday weekend, which was a  little unfortunate. But hot sunny weather can be a mixed blessing when you’re out walking so I wasn’t particularly bothered.

I arrived around 11 a.m and parked up near the B&B. I decided to start off gently so set off down the pleasant valley of Yewdale, with no particular plans on my route. I thought I’d decide as I went along depending on how I felt.

My walk started right by the B&B at Shepherds Bridge, as it’s right next to the footpath through the valley, which forms part of the Cumbria Way.

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The route through the valley is relatively easy walking through beautiful, peaceful countryside

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The path was heading towards Tarn Hows but I cut off and headed across to Yew Tree Farm, a typical Lakeland hill farm previously owned by Beatrix Potter and used in the 2006 film Miss Potter.

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Walking past the farm, I decided to take the path that headed north towards Holme Fell – a relatively small fell, 1040 feet high, that overlooks the valley.

Initially passing through some rough heath

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and then pleasant woodland

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At first it was easy going but then I was following the path up hill – a short sharp climb to the top of the pass. The path leads to Tilberthwaite and then on to Little Langdale and was no doubt used by the men who worked in the slate quarries that used to operate in these valleys.

Looking back down towards Yewdale Tarn and across to the other side of the valley

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I wanted to climb to the summit of the modest fell so at the top of the pass, where there were some cattle taking a break, I turned left to climb to the top of the fell.

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The rain was now starting to fall, which meant that when I reached the summit the views were rather grey and obscured by cloud. But it’s certainly a viewpoint with views over Coniston Water and, when not obscured by cloud, the Coniston and Langdale fells.

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I set back down hill. The rain was really starting to fall now and I was at the furthest point from my final destination – i.e. my starting point! So rather than follow the path to Little Langdale I cut across towards Tilberthwaite

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I crossed over to the west side of Yewdale Beck

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as I’d decided I might as well go and take a look at the sheepfold built by Andy Goldsworthy as part of his Sheepfolds Project which we’d visited in October 2016

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The valley looked very atmospheric with the low cloud swirling on the hills – but I was getting rather wet by now!

I followed the road down to the end of Tilberthwaite and then took the path through the woods on the west side of Yewdale beneath the crags back to Coniston. The trees provide some shelter and the spring flowers and fresh leaves on the trees made it a very pleasant walk despite the rain!

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Back in the village, I called into a cafe for a brew (always welcome at the end of a walk) before walking the short distance back to the B&B to check in.

 

 

The Raisbeck Pinfold

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Before we went up to Orton for our walk around the limestone pavements I’d spotted that there was one of Andy Goldsworthy’s sheepfolds not so far away near the small hamlet of Raisbeck.

SHEEPFOLDS is Cumbria County Council’s major county-wide sculpture, landscape and environment project by the internationally renowned artist ANDY GOLDSWORTHY. The project started in January 1996 for the ‘U.K. Year of Visual Arts’ in what was then the Northern Arts Board region. Beginning as part of this programme Andy Goldsworthy has created a body of environmentally responsive sculptural works across Cumbria using existing sheepfolds, washfolds and pinfolds.

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Although each fold is an individual piece, the project should be seen as a single work of art .

The one at Raisbeck is one of the artist’s cone pinfold’s. Pinfold appears to be a northern term for a pound, where stray animals were kept until claimed by their owners who would have to pay a release fee. If unclaimed, the animals would be sold.

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In each of his cone pinfolds, Goldsworthy has built a conical stone structure – hence their name. On the project website he explains how the shape of these structures was inspired by the Nine Standards, stone cairns on Hartley Fell near Kirkby Stephen, and describes how they were constructed. He tells us that

The form is full and ripe – an optimistic expression of the power of growth and that even out of stone comes life. They are strong yet the form appears precarious – not unlike the nature of growth itself.’

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Their are nine cone pinfold cones around Kirkby Stephen, reflecting the Nine Standards

The Raisbeck cone features in a book about the sheepfold project. In it we learn that it was an existing, ruined structure that Goldsworthy rebuilt over a period of two weeks in May 1996 using stone from a redundant wall from a nearby farm. The cone took three days to construct, using limestone and sandstone from local sources.

In the 20 years since it was built a number of trees have started to grow around the structure. So, although it is located very close to the narrow road, we managed to drive right past. But we realised pretty quickly so stopped, parked up on the verge and walked back to take a look

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A short distance down the road, next to a disused quarry, there’s another interesting stone structure – an old lime kiln – a fairly intact relic of a bygone age.

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This leaflet about the limestone landscape on the Orton fells tells us that

There are 23 small quarries and 20 lime kilns recorded in the local area. Most of these were used over the course of the last 500 years for processing lime for agricultural and domestic use.

The limestone, calcium carbonate, was “burnt” in the kilns to form “quick lime” (calcium oxide) which was then used in mortar, to render stonework and decorate walls (“whitewash”), to improve the fertility of acidic soils and to improve land drainage.

Looking at the project website, there’s a number of other Goldsworthy sheepfolds in the area around Tebay and Kirkby Stephen. Another reason to revisit the area.

Clougha Pike

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Last Sunday promised to be a fine day so we decided to get outdoors. We decided against heading up to the Lakes and, instead, tackle Clougha Pike which is a hill on the edge of the Forest of Bowland Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty which overlooks Lancaster. Having climbed it’s neighbour, Ward Stone, in the past, I knew that we were likely to have some good views on a fine day and I’d recently discovered that there was a sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy up on the moor, having read about in a post on Beating the Bounds. All in all it seemed a good bet for combining a walk with some art and less than an hour’s drive up the M6.

We parked up in the car park on Rigg Lane near Quernmore and set off on a route that would take round the back of Clougha Pike and past the Goldsworthy sculpture, then over Grit Fell across to the summit of our main objective. The hill and surrounding moors are part of the Abbeystead Estate owned by the Duke of Westminster and it’s been “cultivated” for grouse shooting. Access to the heather clad moorland was jealously guarded until the recent past, but with changes in legislation it’s open access land outside of the shooting season.

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There is plenty of evidence of the grouse shooting with grouse butts and parking spaces dotted across the moors and there are bulldozed tracks to allow the shooters easy access. Our route followed one of these roads (only suitable for 4 x 4 s) for almost half the distance, and although they could be considered to spoil the look of the moor to some extent, they do make for easy walking over what would otherwise be very wet and boggy peat, and we had to endure that for much of the second half of the walk.

We set off and followed the track along to the quarry near to Cragg Wood.

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It wasn’t long before we encountered the first grouse of the day!

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The Red Grouse is only found in the British Isles, and, in England, mainly in the North West.

A flock of sheep were keeping an eye on us.

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Reaching the quarry we joined one of the shooters’ tracks and started the climb up the moor.

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Visibility was good and great views over to the Lake District mountains and the Yorkshire Dales soon opened up.

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I shot panoramas of the Lakeland Fells

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and the Three Peaks (Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent)

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Looking to the west over Lancaster and Morecambe Bay to the Furness peninsula

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We passed weathered formations of Millstone Grit

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Eventually we arrived at the former quarry where Andy Goldsworthy had constructed three structures where we stopped to take a look and to have our dinner.

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A local resident was keeping an eye on us!

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Carrying on along the track we passed Ward’s Stone, the highest hill in Lancashire (since the boundary changes of 1974 robbed us of Coniston Old Man!) on our left

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before turning off the track on to a path crossing the moorland towards Grit Fell

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It was wet and muddy and swampy (so no chance of keeping our boots clean)  and hard going in places.

Eventually the summit of Clougha Pike beckoned

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We stopped for a while for a bite to eat and to take in the views. Then we set back down following the path along Clougha Scar

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We missed the path which cuts back to the Rigg Lane car park and ended up part way up the shooters’ track we’d come up on.

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We retraced our route back to the car park. The diversion resulting in a slightly longer walk than planned. A good day, nevertheless.

Tilberthwaite Sheepfold

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One of our objectives during our walk around Wetherlam and Tilberthwaite was to see the sheepfold in the bottom of the valley, near the old quarry. It’s not an ordinary sheepfold but was built by Andy Goldsworthy as part of his Sheepfolds Project

SHEEPFOLDS is Cumbria County Council’s major county-wide sculpture, landscape and environment project by the internationally renowned artist ANDY GOLDSWORTHY. The project started in January 1996 for the ‘U.K. Year of Visual Arts’ in what was then the Northern Arts Board region. Beginning as part of this programme Andy Goldsworthy has created a body of environmentally responsive sculptural works across Cumbria using existing sheepfolds, washfolds and pinfolds.

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Although each fold is an individual piece, the project should be seen as a single work of art .

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It’s possible to access the structure and get inside for a closer look. (This Herdwick sheep was wondering what we were up to!)

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Goldsworthy creates six different types of sheepfold. The one at Tilberthwaite is A Touchstone Fold

A series of folds with artworks built into the fold’s wall, rich in texture and using slate and pebbles as in earlier stone works

He uses traditional drystone walling techniques, the same as used by the farmers who built, and continue to build and repair, the drystone walls that are found all over the Lake District, and other parts of Britain for that matter (we’d seen an example of drystone walling techniques used to build a bench on the Chatsworth Estate the previous weekend). But he incorporates “artistic elements” into the structures. So, at Tilberthwaite, in the centre of each of the walls there’s a rectangular section of dark slate which incorporates a circle. For each of these circles the slate is laid in a different direction, catching and reflecting the light in different ways

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The effect will vary depending on the time of day and the weather.

There are directions to the accessible sheepfolds on the web. The directions to the Tilberthwaite fold is here. It’s also large enough to be seen on the 1:25,000 OS Map

Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-1979

Uncommon Ground is a touring exhibition of works drawn from the Arts Council Collection. It’s showing at the Longside Gallery at the Yorkshire Sculpture until the middle of June, so we took the opportunity to visit while we were over at the YSP the other Saturday.

The YSP’s website tells us

In the late 1960s artists on both sides of the Atlantic turned away from the enclosed space of the gallery and went out into the landscape to forge a new form of art. This art was made in radically new ways often using earth, water, sun and even fire as raw materials, and went under several names: land art, earth art, process art, and conceptual art. Drawing largely from the Arts Council Collection and supplemented by important loans from artists and major public institutions,Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966 – 1979 takes a fresh look at the art of this period and considers what was particular about the way land art developed in Britain.

The exhibition featured works that reflected the main aspects of the movement – moulding the landscape itself, using materials taken from the environment, creating a temporary impression and even walking.

We’ve seen numerous works by Richard Long, Anthony Gormley, David Nash and Andy Goldsworthy over the past few years and have become “fans” so it was interesting to see the early examples featured in this exhibition. And, as is often the case, there were works by artists who I’d never heard of previously and so I was able to make some new discoveries.

The works were very well displayed in the Gallery. The long view of the parkland through the windows which extend all along one side of the building really complemented them and provided an appropriate context – almost like an exhibit itself.

No photographs were allowed in the gallery, so the following pictures of some of my favourite works on display have been sourced via th’Internet.

This is Fallen Tree (1979) an early work by Anthony Gormley, best known for his figurative sculptures based on his own body.

The work was created by taking slices from a tree trunk and then arranging them in a spiral starting at the centre with the smallest piece and then working outwards, increasing in size.

It reminded me very much of the work of Richard Long, one of whose works, Stone Circle (1972) consisted of stones laid out in a circle

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Richard Long made his mark (literally) with A Line Made by Walking (1967) he walked back and forth along a straight line in the grass, leaving a track that he then photographed in black and white.

Richard Long, ‘A Line Made by Walking’ 1967

The idea of creating art by walking, where the act of walking itself can become a work of art but where the artist leaves a mark on the landscape in some way, some more ephemeral than others, was, and remains, a trend in Land Art. A number of examples, including A Line Made by Walking, which we had seen before, were featured in the exhibition. The act is usually recorded in some way, usually by photographs, but sometimes by leaving a mark on the landscape – sometimes temporary (although often photographed to record for posterity) or more permanent, like the piles left by Richard Long on another of his journeys that was featured in the exhibition.

Another aspect of Land Art is the use of materials taken from the environment. This is typified by David Nash, the master of using wood harvested from “wood quarries”. There were examples of his work on display, including Silver Birch Tripod, 1975.

and Ash Dome a ring of 22 growing ash trees into near Nash’s home in North Wales, bent to form a living dome.

An early work by Tony Cragg, New Stones – Newton’s Tones (1978), took materials from the environment too, but in this case they’re pieces of plastic waste recovered from the Rhine and displayed in the order of the colours of the rainbow.

Andy Goldworthy also uses materials from the landscrpe, in many cases for on-site installations that use  only the materials available on site such as rocks, leaves, branches, snow and ice. These works are often ephemeral, eroding, decaying, crumbling or melting and the only evidence for their existence are the photographs that he takes. There were several examples in the exhibition including Snowball 1979

There were several more permanent works by Roger Ackling, who used sunlight to burn patterns into wood or paper, creating primitive photographic prints. One example was  ‘Night and Day’ (1 hour), 1977.

There were films too. Sometimes constituting the work itself, like Dereck Jarman’s A Journey to Avebury 1979, or a record of an event, like the Anthony McCall’s  Landscape for Fire II, 1972.

Photographs featured quite heavily in the exhibition – sometimes to record ephemeral works, as a record of an event or to show dramatic landscapes (I found the selection of photographs Sea Horizons by Garry Fabian Miller of the Bristol Channel under different conditions particularly affecting – pity about the reflective glass that made it difficult to view them properly). But they were used in other ways too. An example of the latter was John Hilliard’s Across the Park 1972. This is a series of pictures where a single shot is cropped in different ways providing very different interpretations of the same scene. Very clever, I thought and demonstrating how images can be manipulated and how “truth” depends on editing and perspective.

The exhibition provided a good opportunity to explore the origins of Land Art. It was particularly interesting to be able to see early works by artists we like, to see their early ideas and the beginnings of trends that they developed further during their career or, in some cases, abandoned to take other directions.

Leeds City Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute

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I always look forward to the break over Christmas and New Year. A great chance to forget about work for a few days and relax, catch up on some reading, watch TV and a few films on DVD. The trouble is, after a few days in the house I start to get stir crazy and want to get out somewhere other than Tesco. So yesterday we decided we’d drive over to Leeds and visit the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds City Art Gallery. It’s been a while since I was last there and there were a few new temporary exhibitions on that sounded interesting.

The Henry Moore Institute is part of The Henry Moore Foundation, which was set up by Moore in 1977 to encourage appreciation of the visual arts. The building is physically connected to the Leeds City Art Gallery by an interior bridge, and although they are independent of the Gallery they collaborate with them and manages their sculpture collection and archive.

The main exhibition at the Institute at the moment is 1913: The Shape of Time featuring sculptures and some two dimensional works created in 1913.

“Marking the eve of the centenary of this year, and with George Kubler’s book The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things (1962) in mind, 1913: The Shape of Time is an exploration of the complex lives sculptures lead after their original production. …… This exhibition points both to the impact of sculptural thinking on the mutability of time and to the ways in which temporal thinking impacts on the production of and encounter with sculpture. All of the works on display were first produced in 1913, however many have been cast or replicated at a later date

I particularly liked the two sculptures by Henri Gaudier Brzeska, a beautiful little crucifixion sculpture by Eric Gill (despite despising his personal life I love his work), a Modgliani sketch, a Picasso collage two sculptures by  by Vladimir Baranov-Rossiné. I’ve not come across him before so will have to follow up with some research.

Christ on the Cross

Eric Gill Christ on the Cross 1913 (source: National Gallery of Scotland website)

In another room there was a recreation of a work by my Marcel DuChamp (I can’t avoid this guy!!) – his "Bicycle wheel" by an American-born, Paris-based artist, Elaine Sturtevant.

Made from memory and with the same methods as the original, Sturtevant’s repetitions are eerily similar, if not almost identical. Through this subversive approach, Sturtevant divorces an artwork from its visual image to investigate its conceptual meaning and value.

Elaine Sturtevant ‘Duchamp Bicycle Wheel’ 1969-1973 (Source: Henry Moore Institute website)

We spent most of our time looking round the City Art Gallery. Unlike the public galleries in Manchester and Liverpool, where there is a major emphasis on Victorian art, Leeds’ collection is strongly biased towards the 20th Century and they including a good selection of sculptures. It’s an excellent gallery with a good collection and they show some good exhibitions. They don’t allow photography but, despite this, they aren’t great at providing information on the exhibits that visitors can take away with them and their website isn’t particularly good, with only limited information on the works in their collection. It can be difficult to follow up on discoveries made during the visit.

The Henry Moore Institute collaborates with the City Art gallery to curate sculpture exhibitions and at the moment are showing a selection of small scale works from the city’s collection in an exhibition titled Natural Form: Shape and Growth in Sculpture. It was really excellent with works by Moore, Hepworth, Jean Arp, Paule Vézelay, Richard Long, David Nash etc etc etc . There were a number of ceramics too, including a really nice "squashed vase" by Elizabeth Fritsch and a plate by Henry Moore.

What particularly caught our attention were a number of pieces by Andy Goldsworthy made from leaves formed into boxes and other forms. They were particularly excellent.  They must have required tremendous skill and patience to create them and I couldn’t help but wonder how the fragile leaves stay intact. Perhaps they are sprayed with some sort of preservative?

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Upstairs they have a large display of post war works including a significant number by St Ives artists (including 3 Christopher Woods paintings) and sculptures by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and F E McWilliam.

There were a couple of temporary exhibitions including one Contested Ground, run in conjunction with the Contemporary Art Society, and which focuses on works connected to the landscape. The exhibition is curated by Debra Lennard, and it

explores the revision of the landscape tradition in British art throughout the last century, and the meaning of that tradition for artists today. Drawing on Leeds Art Gallery’s rich collections, this exhibition presents key works by pioneers of Modernism in England, from Paul Nash and Ben Nicholson to Barbara Hepworth and Peter Lanyon, alongside more recent experiments with landscape by artists including Richard Long, Boyle Family, and Clare Woods.

The information on the exhibition was very limited. BUt as I mentioned above, this is a particular problem with the Gallery. However, I did manage to late a copy of the exhibition catalogue online here.

Contested Ground, Leeds Art Gallery

Picture source: Contemporary Art Society website

Downstairs there was an exhibition "Liberty and Anarchy" of works by an Australian artist of Greek extraction -  Nike Savvas. One room had an installation specially made for the exhibition which consisted of curtains of hanging coloured strips. You’re meant to be able to walk through the work, seeing it from the inside, so to speak, but the gallery restrict when you can do this as the work would be easily damaged.  We didn’t have the opportunity during our visit which was a pity as we weren’t able to properly appreciate the work just looking at it from one side. The other room displayed three dimensional works with coloured wool threaded on wooden frames, not unlike the stringing that Gabo, Hepworth and Moore sometimes used on their sculpture, though more complex, especially as she created them in accordance with a mathematical formula. There were also some related black and white two dimensional works which were quite similar to the op art work produced by Bridget Riley.

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All in all a good day out.