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

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral stands on the south bank of the Thames, near London Bridge and I’ve walked past many times when I’ve been in London both for work and pleasure. After wandering around Borough market we decided to go and have a closer look.

There’s been a church on the site since Norman times, if not earlier. Between 1106 and 1538 it was the church of an Augustinian priory. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a parish church. It only became a cathedral in 1905 when the diocese of Southwark was established.

This is an old drawing of the church  and the nearby old London Bridge from 1616 (source: Wikipedia)


The famous panorama of London in 1647 by the Czech artist Wenceslas Hollar was drawn from the top of the tower of the church, then known as Saint Saviour’s.


The present building is mainly Victorian Gothic following the reconstruction of the building, which was in a bad state of repair, in the 19th Century, although there are some remnants of the older structures, particularly in the retro-choir.

Looking down the Nave


The high alter screen. The original was installed in 1520 but the two rows of statues are in excellent condition and were only added in 1905.


An older part of the building at the far end of the nave


Originally the building had a timber roof, but that was replaced during the Victorian restoration. However, a reproduction has been created in the crossing, underneath the tower


The original roof would have been held together by several hundred carved bosses. Some of the originals have been preserved and are displayed at the far end of the nave. Here’s some of them.


During Elizabethan times, the Bankside area, south of the Thames, where the church is located, was outside the jurisdiction of the City of London, and became something of a “pleasure garden”  occupied by the bear baiting pits and theatres including the Globe, Rose and Swan. The reconstructed Globe is a short walk away. So, not surprisingly, the cathedral ahs a close connection with the historic dramatists. William Shakespeare’s brother, Edmund, was buried there in 1607. His grave is unmarked, but there’s a commemorative stone in the paving of the choir.


There is a large stained glass window dedicated to William Shakespeare, depicting scenes from his plays, at the base of which is an alabaster statue of him reclining, holding a quill.


There’s also a memorial to Sam Wannamaker, the American actor who left the USA to avoid persecution during the McCarthy era and who inspired the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre. (Inspired isn’t the right word, really. He had to fight tooth and nail and put a lot of time, energy and sweat into getting it built)


John Harvard the founder of Harvard University in the USA was born in the parish, and baptised in the church on 29 November 1607. He is commemorated by the Harvard Chapel in the north transept, paid for by Harvard University alumni resident in England.

There’s an attractive Arts and Crafts style stained glass window in the chapel


There’s some other attractive stained glass in the church, though the bright autumn sunlight streaming through them made it difficult to take decent photographs.  I rather liked this modern design in the retro-chapel


Outside there’s a small but attractive garden. Overlooked by Borough Market it’s something of an oasis of peace in a rather hectic neighbourhood.


There was a recreated Augustinian herb garden at the back of the church. The monks would have grown herbs for both culinary and healing purposes – in medieval times the monks would have tended to the sick which is why many older hospitals have their origins in churches, monasteries and nunneries.


A view of the shard from the churchyard.


And a pleasant surprise. I spotted this sculpture in the churchyard. My immediate reaction was that it looked like a work by Peter Randall-Page.


Checking out the information board confirmed my suspicion



Sunday morning stroll up Latrigg

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Sunday morning started out bright, despite the weather forecast, although there was plenty of cloud shrouding the high fells. We wanted to go out for a walk but din’ feel ready to tackle Skiddaw or one of the other nearby mountains, so we decided to tackle of Latrigg – although at 1,207 feet it might be modest by Lake District standards but it’s a decent climb and a good walk for a Sunday morning.


We followed the old railway track to Kendal leisure centre and then cut across the the path that crosses the busy A66 (via a footbridge, I’m pleased to say).


Entering the woods there was a steep ascent up the lower slopes of the hill before the path flattens out. The route took us round the back of the hill, heading towards Skiddaw before branching back up a short steep climb, levelling out with a more modest gradient towards the summit. We were greeted by a great view over the whole of Derwent Water


Behind us, the summits of Skiddaw and Blencathra were hidden in cloud



It was raining in Newlands Valley


and there was Castlerigg stone circle in the distance


The closure of sections of the old railway track from Threlkeld to Keswick due to damage caused by the floods of late 2015 precluded a circular walk back to Keswick  (unless we fancied walking along the A66) so we retraced our steps as far as the Leisure Centre and then headed down through the town centre down to the lake. We stopped to eat our packed lunch then continued along the lake shore as far as Calfclose Bay as we wanted to take a look at The Centenay Stone, a work by Peter Randall-Page, created from a large boulder of local Borrowdale volcanic rock which was split and carved by the artist to commemorate the National Trust’s centenary in 1995.



On the way, we passed the Ruskin Memorial at Friar’s Crag


Walla Crag

We arrived in Keswick a little before midday. As we had tickets for the theatre and had a table booked at Morrell’s restaurant for a pre-theatre meal and needed to check into our B and B   before then, we decided to start our break with a modest walk up Walla Crag.

We set out from the car park by Derwent Water, cutting through town and then down Springs Road toward the woods and the path towards the fells.


Climbing up the fell, views of the surrounding countryside opened up.

Looking back towards Keswick with Skiddaw towering over the town


On reaching the summit there were great views over the lake towards Cat Bells and the mountains on the far side of Newlands Valley


The Summit of Bleaberry Fell, about a mile away, looked tempting


but time was limited so we made our way down towards the lake shore


descending via the very steep path down Cat Gill



Reaching the lake shore there were great views over to Cat Bells and down Borrowdale to the high fells

We followed the footpath along the lake back towards  Keswick.

We cam across this sculpture on the lake shore in Calfclose bay. The Centenay Stone is a work by Peter Randall-Page, created from a large boulder of local Borrowdale volcanic rock which was split and carved by the artist to commemorate the National Trust’s centenary in 1995.




We continued back down the shore to the car park, stopping to look back down the lake.DSC07255

‘Give and Take’ in Newcastle


While we were wandering around Newcastle last Sunday, heading back down to the Quayside we made a point of finding this sculpture which we’d seen during our last visit to the city. It was immediately recognisable as a work by Peter Randall-Page, a sculptor I’ve admired his work ever since I saw a major exhibition by him at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a few years ago.

The work consists of a glacial boulder, unearthed near Fort William in Scotland, it’s surface carved with an unbroken matrix of 630 hexagons and 12 pentagons – very characteristic of his style. It sits in the centre of concentric stone steps and surrounded by a ring of specially planted trees.


A marvellous work. It’s located in Trinity Gardens, a modern development at the top end of Broad Chare, one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares


Chain of Events in Bloomsbury


Walking through Bloomsbury from Holborn towards St Geoarge's church during our break in London, as we walked through Bloomsbury Square, I spotted an abstract sculpture ont he pavement outside a building. “Ah”, I thought, “that looks like something by Peter Randall-Page”. Turned out that I was right.

Peter Randall-Page is a British sculptor and I've admired his work ever since I saw a major exhibition by him at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a few years ago. Since then we've come across works by him in public places such as Newcastle and Bristol, and we also saw a small exhibition by him in Wigan a couple of years ago (before they shut down the only public art gallery in my home town).

He has quite a distinctive style with much of his work inspired by organic forms, particularly plants, and this was an example. The sculpture was commissioned by BUPA and is situated in front of their offices in the Square. It's called 'Beneath the Skin' (1991) and was carved from Irish Kilkenny limestone, a favourite material of his, I think. The shiny, top surface has been polished by the back sides of many people, I suspect as it makes a perfect seat to sit and take a rest.

(Image from here)

Running along the low walls to either side of the entrance there was another, later work by him. A type of mosaic . This is Chain of Events (1996) created from white Portland stone inlaid in black granite.

I particularly liked this piece which I thought was very attractive. Primitive but modern.

Although I'm no fan of BUPA, it is always a pleasant surprise to stumble across an attractive artwork by a favourite contemporary artist in the street.


Peter Randall-Page in Wigan

We popped in yesterday to he Drumcroon Gallery in Wigan to look at the exhibition ‘Showing his Hand’ of smaller works by Peter Randall-Page, a well established British sculptor who has produced some significant works.  A number are on public display in various cities across the UK, including London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge and abroad. He created a major granite sculpture, “Seed”, for the Eden Centre in Cornwall.

I first discovered his work when I visited his major exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a couple of years ago. We also came across one of his sculptures, ‘Give and Take’, when we visited Newcastle.


‘Give and Take’

According to his website he has

“….. always been informed and inspired by the study of organic form and its subjective impact on our emotions.”

and many of his works certainly are influenced by nature, particularly plants and seeds. This was reflected in the works on display at the Drumcroon.

My favourite was the two “Mind Map” pieces. These are made up of  fragments of fired brick clay . The individual pieces are split in two and after they are fired are used to create symmetrical abstract patterns on the wall  by locating the paired slabs on either side of the central axis. The firing of the clay produces interesting variations in the colours of the slabs .


I’d seen some of his “Mind Map” pieces at the YSP exhibition and the accompanying booklet explained how he had developed the idea by studyingEgg drawings by the Greek mathematician Euclid (c.300BC) whose “Elements” is the earliest known treatise dedicated to geometry. Euclid set out a system for creating compass and straight edge constructions, including egg shapes made up of intersecting lines and circles. Euclid’sinfluence can be clearly seen in these “Mind Maps”  and also in some of the drawings in the exhibition


These symmetrical egg drawings had been produced by applying the paint or ink and folding over the paper to create something similar to a Rorschach inkblot. He used this approach for a good number of the paper based works on show in the exhibition.


There were a number of small sculptures on display. I liked the small metal castings displayed on the mantlepiece in one of the rooms. They were minature versions of a larger sculpture we’d seen at the YSP and were possiblly maquettes – small scale models used by sculptors when trying out their ideas – which would be scaled up later.


I wasn’t so keen on the clay pieces on display. They had an unfinished appearance.


There were a number of maquettes, including one for “Seed”, in a glass case,



and a selection of his sketch books were also displayed.


I found these particularly interesting as they give an insight into the creative process and the way the artist’s ideas are conceived and developed.

I thought that this was a good exhibition, well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in contemporary sculpture. Wigan are lucky to have the opportunity to show the works.  However, it has been very poorly publicised and I wonder how many people know that it’s there? As I’ve noted before, Wigan Councilare very poor at promoting the Arts. The Drumcroon is the only arts facility in Wigan, but is mainly used as a resource for schools. Sadly, the centre is under threat due to Council cutbacks. If it goes Wigan will be even more of a cultural wasteland than it is at the moment. We can only cast our eyes with envy towards enlightened towns like Wakefield (another solid working class community with a passion for rugby league) where the new Hepworth gallery, a major new facility devoted to sculpture, opened earlier this year.