An autumn day at the YSP

A few photos taken during our visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last Saturday.

Black Mound (2013) by David Nash
Large Two Forms by Henry Moore, in the distance
Wilsis (2016) by Jaume Plensa
Square with Two Circles  by Barbara Hepworth
Albero folgorato by Giuseppe Penone
A new work by Peter Randall Page Envelope of Pulsation (For Leo) 2017
Square with Two Circles at sunset

New Year’s Day 2018 at the Hepworth


I’m still far from finished writing up our trip to Australia, but I’d thought I’d take a short diversion to report on our trip to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield on New Year’s Day. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to drive over a quiet M62 to visit this excellent gallery. Last year we didn’t make a subsequent visit so it’s a while since we were last there – well, 12 months exactly!


There had quite been a few changes with new exhibitions in four of the galleries and a temporary exhibition of work by the Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow which was coming to the end of it’s run.

Gallery 1 featured a range of works from the Wakefield collection, including the beautiful elm sculpture by Henry Moore shown above and works from Barbara Hepworth, and Nuam Gabo,


The next two galleries concentrated on works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, both born locally in Castleford and Wakefield respectively.

In the first room, works by henry Moore included this unusual (for Moore) bronze head Open Work Head No. 2 (1950)


some of his drawings of miners from local pits during WWII


and a series of lithographs of Stonehenge that he had personally donated to the Wakefield collection.


The next, large room, was a comprehensive survey of Barbara Hepworth’s work including sculpture, drawings, prints and even her library of books


We had a brief look around the next two rooms which  explore Hepworth’s working methods and display examples from the Hepworth’s collection of her plasters as they’re on permanent display and we’ve seen them many times before. But the next two rooms had new displays – more works from the Hepworth’s collection


and an exhibition Daughters of Necessity by British artist Serena Korda, featuring some of her own works displayed together with ceramics from the Hepworth’s collection. The Hepworth website tells us

Working with ceramics for several years, Korda combines her experimental approach to the material with her interest in the acoustic properties of objects. For The Hepworth Wakefield, Korda has created a new work, Resonators, comprising five large, richly glazed vessels with openings at each end. Visitors are invited to interact with the work by placing their ears to each vessel to hear a range of bass-like tones.


The exhibition also features a new presentation of Korda’s ceramic sound installation Hold Fast, Stand Sure, I Scream a Revolution, which was premiered at Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2016. This work is made up of 29 individual porcelain mushrooms suspended from the ceiling, which will be played as bells in public performances during the Ceramics Fair in early May 2018.


I really liked these works which were a combination of art, science and music.

There were some beautiful ceramic pieces selected by the artist too



The temporary exhibition Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscapes was an extensive survey of the work of this Polish artist and

highlights how the artist’s work developed from classically figurative sculptures to her later ‘awkward objects’, which are politically charged and overlaid with Surrealist and Pop Art influences. (Hepworth Website)


 features more than 100 works created between 1956 and 1972 including drawings, photography and sculpture, incorporating Szapocznikow’s characteristic use of cast body parts, many of which she transformed into everyday objects like lamps or ashtrays.


Hopefully, I’ll find some time to write up more about this.

Henry Moore – Back to a Land at the YSP

The current exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is devoted to the work of local lad, Henry Moore, who was born just up the road in Castleford.
The YSP always have a good selection of Moore’s work outdoors, with one of the two main fields devoted to lsome of his large scale sculptures. But this exhibition brought a large number additional works, mainly displayed indoors in the Underground Gallery, with some located outdoors.
Many of Moore’s major works are based on abstract renderings of human figures – he is particularly noted for his reclining figures and mother and child sculptures. But, for this exhibition the YSPs website tells us that
This major exhibition, in collaboration with The Henry Moore Foundation, takes a fresh approach to Moore’s work by considering his profound relationship with land, which was fundamental to his practice and fuelled his visual vocabulary

Moore’s contemporary and fellow local (from Wakefield), Barbara Hepworth, is well known for her many works that are inspired by the landscape, but I’ve never viewed his works in that way.

No photographs were allowed indoors, unfortunately so I’ll have to rely on describing what I saw and a few pictures from the YSP website

There were sculptures and a large number of drawings, sketches, watercolours and other works on paper. Many of the drawings were land related,

Arch Rock, Ice Berg, Rocky Landscape and numerous other drawings, some rarely seen in public, along with a range of sculptures exploring scale and the interplay between internal and external spaces, emphasise the artist’s constant investigation of land, from the black coal seams of his hometown and the rich geology of Britain, to the mystical ancient forms of Stonehenge.

but the sculptures, like the following draped figure, were mainly based on the human body

Most of the works appeared to be from later in his life and from the Henry Moore Foundation’s collection.

One aspect of the exhibition I particularly liked were the poems by Simon Armitage inspired by some of the works on show. He’s from Marsden, not so far away, and has worked with the YSP on other ocassions. The poems were displayed next to the specific works which inspired them and reproduced in the exhibition catalogue. This also includes some poems by Ted Hughes, another Yorkshireman and someone whose work was very much inspired by the landscape and natural environment.

Outdoors there were a number of large scale works

A large scale fibreglass reclining figure – an unusual material for Moore

Another reclining figure, bronze this time. There was a plaster version of it on display indoors
A two piece bronze reclining figure, displayed, effectively, at the top of the stairs leading down to the lower garden
An abstract form on the upper lawn
An abstract bronze reclining figure
We also took the chance to take a look at the works that the YSP usually has on display
I enjoyed the exhibition. It was good to see some works that were new to me – the sculptures and, especially, the works on paper. I wasn’t convinced by the theme of the exhibition, though. Many of Moore’s large scale works are really best displayed outdoors in the landscape – urban as well as rural. But I couldn’t see the strong link advocated by the curators.



The Didrichsen Art Museum


Time flies and it’s a few months now since I was in Helsiinki. I’m heading back over there in a few weeks so thought it was about time I wrote up my visit to the Didrichsen Art Museum.

The Museum is located on on Kuusisaari island, a 20 minute or so bus ride from the Central Station. It holds temporary exhibitions and has permanent displays of ancient Chinese and pre-Columbian artefacts, although during my visit the indoor rooms were devoted to an exhibition of works by Edvard Munch – The Dance of Life. There’s also a sculpture garden with some excellent works including pieces by  Henry Moore and Bernard Meadows.

The museum was originally a private residence owned by enthusiastic Modern Art collectors Marie-Louise and Gunnar Didrichsen. It’s a Modernist building designed by architect Viljo Revell  in 1958-59. An extension was added six years later to house the owners’ art collection.


It’s an attractive house in a beautiful setting in the woods by the sea.



There’s a photo of the inside of the house here (it was too full of people on the day I visited to get a decent shot)


As a former private residence the Museum is quite small, but they have an excellent collection. Due to the Munch exhibition (which was excellent) I was only able to see the works in the sculpture garden. Here’s some of them.


Adrift (2013) by Jenni Tieaho – a Viking longship in an appropriate setting


Atom Piece (1964) by Henry Moore


Reclining Figure on a Pedestal (1960) by Henry Moore


Stele del Offerende (1960) by Mario Negri


Augustus (1962/3) by Bernard Meadows


Auringonkukkapelto (1975) by Eila Hiltunen


Mama Europa (2009) by Tilla Kekki

and its companion piece


Mama Africa (2009) by Tilla Kekki


Turoulenssi (1996) by Eila Hiltunen


Arctic Aphrodite (1972) by Laila Pullinen


Strange Rain Last Night (2008) by Matti Peltokangas


Crescendo (1982) by Eila Hiltunen

New Year’s Day at the YSP

The first day of the New Year. For the past three years we’ve driven over the Pennines to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. Although we’ve always enjoyed the day out this year we decided on a change and headed for the nearby Yorkshore Sculpture Park to try and combine some culture with a pleasant walk in the country.

It turned out to be rather wild, wet and windy, but we didn’t let the weather spoil our day.

We started off with a rather nice dinner (deep fried squid and prawns with salad and a bucket of chips)
Then we had a look around the Ursula Von Rydingsvard exhibition in the Underground Gallery. Our third visit but definitely worth another look before it closes on the 5th January.
Then we braved the wind and rain for a walk around the park to have a look at some favourite works in the grounds
Including works by Elisabeth Frink
Barbara Hepworth
and Henry Moore
Conditions continued to deteriorate so we decided to curtail our walk and retreat to the cafe for a pot of tea and some rather delicious cakes.



Return to the Hepworth


On Saturday we paid a visit to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. Thos time we were accompanied y our friend, Jean who’d never been before. Approaching the gallery in the car, which involves an unusual manoeuvre, driving past the gallery and then doubling back on yourself, Jean commented “what an ugly building” – not a good start as I wondered what she was going to make of the exhibits which included a major exhibition by the Austrian avant garde artist Franz West (more about that in another post). The building does seem to be rather like Marmite – you either love it or hate it – I’m in the former camp.

One of the current exhibitions, in the smaller gallery, Making a Modern Collection, celebrated the Wakefield Council’s art collection

The collection was founded in 1923 and began to develop with the help of Ernest Musgrave, the first director of Wakefield Art Gallery, and his forward-thinking collecting policy. Musgrave’s successors continued to expand the collection, which now has over 5,000 works, with the support of many organisations and individuals. (source)

The exhibition had only a small selection from the collection, but what a selection. It included works by Barbara Hepworth



Two forms (1937)


Forms, (brown, grey and white) (1941)

Ben Nicholson


May 1954 (Delos) (1954)

Patrick Heron


June Horizons 1957 (1957)

Henry Moore, including one of his drawings of miners

Henry Moore Pit Boys

This interesting sculpture by Kenneth Armitage


Girl without a face (version 2) (1982)

A painting by L S Lowry


A nude by Euan Uglow


Gyroscope Nude (1967)

I liked this painting of  Yorkshire Landscape (1937) by Francis Butterfield


The exhibition once again demonstrated that the Council in Wakefield have had an enlightened attitude to art and culture for many years – continuing right up to today as the establishment of the Hepworth Gallery demonstrates. So again I came away feeling disappointed that my home town, with similar working class demographic and links with mining and Rugby League, is such a cultural black hole.

“Sculptural Forms” in Manchester


One of the exhibitions currently showing at the Manchester City Art Gallery focuses on sculpture created during a the period from just before the First World War to the present day. Covering three rooms on the first floor of the modern extension, it features works from the Gallery’s own collection  together with others from the Whitworth Gallery, currently closed for refurbishment, and the Arts Council.

The exhibition

explores some of the imaginative ways in which the sculptural form has been re-invented from just before World War One to the present day. It does so by combining sculpture with two-dimensional works of art and designed objects to create some unexpected but visually stunning juxtapositions.

The first room – The Human Condition – concentrates on the human form. Some of the works on show are figurative, some abstract and some a bit of both.

This relief by Eric Gill is very typical of his work. A clear depiction of a human form, a religious subject, finely carved.


The development of the abstract representation of the human figure can be seen in a piece by by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and early works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.



This ceramic head by Stephen Dixon (Liu Xiaobo 2012), created in honour of the Chinese human rights campaigner and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize


and this crystal skull replete with flashing interior lights by Tony Oursler


were both very popular, attracting a lot of attention from visitors.

As well as sculpture the exhibition includes some “two dimensional works” some inspired by sculpture, some ideas for sculpture and some by sculptors including Henry Moore.




The second room – Abstraction – did what it said on the tin featuring abstract works by artists including Anthony Caro, Alison Wearing  and Barbara Hepworth – this is her Sphere with Inner Form (1963)


I particularly liked a couple of aluminium reliefs

Relief (1965) by Jean Spencer, which could almost have been a fabricated industrial component


and, especially, the sensuous, curved forms of Icarus (1967) by John Milne.


I’m a sucker for simple abstract sculptures like this (Rotterdam Relief, 2005, by Toby Patterson) made from a transparent perspex panel and which uses light and shadows to great effect.


The final section – Transformation – concentrated on works made from everyday objects. They included this abstract beast by Lyn Chadwick,


and this work Ridged Vessel, (2014) by Claire Malet. which was commissioned by the Gallery.


It’s not immediately obvious but this remarkable piece started out as a commercially produced olive oil tin.

She explains her method:

I collect used steel cans and scrap copper with which to work. Each vessel is worked entirely with hand tools. The interiors are gilded with genuine gold leaf and copper leaf, bringing a distinctive richness and volcanic appearance to my work. I take an experimental approach to working with metal, allowing the medium to suggest a direction and often pushing it to the limits of workability, accelerating decay. This has led me to discover techniques that produce qualities similar to those found in nature. Through this process I aim to transform a mundane man-made object into a form to be treasured. The result is a fusion of intentional form and the natural characteristics of the medium.

Henry Moore at Tate Britain


The day after visiting Tate Modern to see the Klee and Schendel exhibitions, we decided to go along to the original Tate Gallery – these days known as “Tate Britain”. We hadn’t been there for a while and there had been a number of major changes since our last visit. The building has been refurbished and they have rehung the permanent exhibition chronologically – more on that in another post.

Currently they have two rooms devoted to an exhibition of works by Henry Moore with 30 works including maquettes, drawings and large-scale sculptures.

My favourite of all the sculptures on display was his Recumbent Figure 1938
carved from Green Hornton stone. I’d originally seen it at the exhibition of his works held at Leeds City Art Gallery in 2011.


Most of the other larger works on display were bronzes cast from plaster models.

King and Queen is one of Moore’s most well known works. Two figures sitting on a bench. To me, they look like two ordinary people rather than royalty. Perhaps that’s what they were meant to be.


King and Queen (1952-3)

Moore wrote about how he created the work

The ’King and Queen’ is rather strange. Like many of my sculptures, I can’t explain exactly how it evolved. Anything can start me off on a sculpture idea, and in this case it was playing with a small piece of modelling wax. …….. Whilst manipulating a piece of this wax, it began to look like a horned, Pan-like, bearded head. Then it grew a crown and I recognised it immediately as the head of a king. I continued and gave it a body. When wax hardens, it is almost as strong as metal. I used special strength to repeat in the body the aristocratic refinement I found in the head. Then I added a second figure to it and it became a ‘King and Queen’. I realise now that it was because I was reading stories to Mary, my six year old daughter, every night, and most of them were about kings and queens and princesses . . .  (source here)

Another couple, this time holding their child.


Family Group (1949)

Produced for a school in Stevenage, it’s one of a series he produced shortly after WWII, which, according to an article in the Telegraph in 2010

are at once celebrations of the birth of his longed-for only child and, in effect, war memorials, affirmations, after the worst conflict the world had ever seen, of basic, universal human values.

And an old favourite of mine, a familiar figure we’ve seen many times at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, his “Draped Seated Figure” . I don’t know whether the sculpture has been relocated from the YSP, or is another casting, but she wasn’t there last time we visited.


Draped Seated Figure 1957‑8

“Old Flo” as she was popularly known was originally installed on the Stifford estate in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London with the help of public money in 1962, with Henry Moore contributing by selling her at a minimal price. It was an attempt to make art accessible to ordinary people and stood on the estate until 1997. By then, the estate had been demolished and “Old Flo” was vandalised, smeared with paint. So she was transferred to the YSP who cleaned her up. There’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding the work at the moment as Tower Hamlets Council put it up for sale last year. But there’s been something of an outcry about this to say the least.

Although it is good to see a collection of sculptures in a gallery like this, in some ways I think that the pristine works can appear rather sterile in such a setting. Many sculptures, including Henry Moore’s large scale works, look so much better and appealing when sited outdoors, like they are at the YSP and other similar sculpture parks. You can stand back and look at them as well as get in close.  They may be affected by the elements, but such weathering can actually improve them, allowing them to develop and evolve. And they show different aspects as the light changes during the day, with the changing weather and with the seasons. They can breathe and live rather than be suffocated indoors.

The exhibitions also includes some smaller works and macquettes and some of  his drawings including this one from the series made in the underground stations being used as air raid shelters during WWII