Chiharu Shiota: Beyond Time in the Chapel at the YSP

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As well as the sculptures on show around the magnificent Country Park, the YSP has a number of really excellent indoor exhibition spaces. One of our favourites is the old Georgian Chapel building which is a really beautiful space and the YSP use it for some inspirational installations.

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The current exhibition features a work created by the Berlin based Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota. Many of her works are large scale webs of threads, often filling entire rooms, that frequently incorporate everyday objects such as keys, , dresses and shoes. . The main work in the Chapel is one of these. Beyond Time is a web of white thread almost filling much of the space from floor to ceiling, (2,000 balls of thread were used to construct it),  and incorporating photocopied pages  of sheet music from the YSP’s archives.

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The artist usually uses crimson or black  thread, but in an interview for the Studio International website explains why for the Chapel white thread has been used

“For purity. And death.” White is the colour of mourning in Japan, which seems appropriate, given the simple gravestones and marble memorial slabs embedded in the site. But it also represents renewal.

Visitors can walk around and through the installation and view it looking down from the seats in the balcony

Photographs can’t do it justice. It needs to be seen and experienced

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Giuseppe Penone: A Tree in the Wood at the YSP

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Last Sunday we decided to drive over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. A new exhibition had opened the previous week that we wanted to see and it’s always nice to combine seeing good contemporary art with a walk through the Country park, especially on a sunny day.

The new exhibition is devoted to the work of an Italian artist, Giuseppe Penone. I’d seen an exhibition of his work in the gardens of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam a couple of years ago so was familiar with his work. Rather like David Nash, much of his work is created from trees, often integrating with other natural materials like rocks and marble. Like Nash he also casts trees and wood and bark in bronze.

As usual with the major YSP exhibitions, works were displayed both outdoors around the park and gardens and inside the Underground Gallery.

Pathway 6 (1986) – a bronze work of a human like figure made of bark growing out of a tree

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Bifurcation (1991) – a bronze sculpture of a tree trunk with a handprint from which water flows – I’d seen this one in Amsterdam

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Stone veins between the branches (2015), another work I’d seen in Amsterdam. A bronze tree trunk supporting a large granite block which has two smooth faces while the other two bear the drill marks made during the extraction of the block from the quarry

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Lighting Struck tree (2012) – yet another work I’d seen  in Amsterdam

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One of the first works we saw in the Underground Gallery was  In the Wood (2008). Here the artist had taken a block of wood and cut into it, carving back to a single tree ring so it appears as if a young sapling is emerging from the block.

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The centrepiece that straddled the three rooms in the Gallery, Matrix (2015)was a large pine tree split in half along it’s length and then with the middle carved out following a tree ring. The two halves facing each other.

Other works in the first room were two marble works. Body of Stone – Branches (2016) has bronze branches that seem to be growing out of the stone

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In a companion piece – Body of Stone – Grid (2016), the marble is covered by a metal grid which appears to eat into the stone

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The works in the second room included With Eyes Closed (2009), a picture in which the artist’s eyes are rendered in thousands of acacia thorns.

img_7184 and Skin of Graphite (2012) where graphite has been used to reproduce the pattern on the surface of the artist’s skin. Inspired by a visit to a Yorkshire coal mine in 1989, the work was produced by taking an impression directly from his skin, projecting the pattern formed onto a larger canvas and tracing over it, so magnifying the pattern.

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Moving into the third room, the back wall was dominated by To breathe the shadow (2008) consisting of a collection of laurel leaves held in a mesh cage, with a bronze sculpture of a branch and an impression of the artist’s face in the centre

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The left wall was covered with a drawing, Propogation (1998/2018) with an enlarged impression of the artist’s fingerprint at the centre

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Another marvellous exhibition. We’re never disappointed by all of those we’ve seen at the YSP since our first visits about 10 years ago. And there was more to see (and write up!). The days always seem to disappear when we’re there. I’m certainly not a Telegraph reader, but looking at the review on their website I have to agree that

It all adds up to perhaps the best day out in British art. 

A walk along the Helsinki shore

 

Thursday evening after work during my stay in Finland I decided to take a walk along the sea shore. I headed down towards Eira, a wealthy district  which, according to Wikipedia “has some of the most expensive and sought-after old apartments in Helsinki”, many of them built in the Jugendstil style.

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This building with the tall tower and metal spire, is the Mikael Agricola Church, which was designed by Lars Sonck, well known for his Jugenstil buildings, including the Kallio church I’d been to look at a couple of days before.

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I felt that it had a very modern look, despite being designed in the early 1930’s. If I’d have guessed I’d have said it was probably built considerably later towards the end of the 20th Century. Its relatively plain appearance (at least from the outside) is very different from Sonck’s Kallio church.

Reaching the sea I followed the shore, passing a number of islands just off-shore.

 

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Further along, I could see the fortress island of Suomenlinna, which I planned to visit the next day

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I passed this statue

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The Statue of Peace by Essi Renvall. According to the artist

the statue’s female figure is the spirit of peace returning after a war with a new, peaceful heart.

Up on the Observatory hill, overlooking the bay, was this sculpture, The Shipwrecked by Robert Stigell,

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which

depicts a shipwrecked family. The father, the central figure in the group, holds a small child in his arms and is calling for help. He is waving a scarf and looking towards their rescuers. Another child, a small boy, is stuck in what remains of the ship. The mother has collapsed and is lying on the raft. The work does not depict a particular shipwreck nor is it historical; Stigell was merely interested in exploring the sculptural dynamics of the subject.

Carrying on along the quay side, I soon reached Esplanade and I was able to take a look at one of Helsinki’s most famous public monuments, Havis Amanda by Ville Vallgren

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A naked female figure in the centre of a fountain – according to the artist

the central female figure, who has risen from the sea, symbolises Helsinki and the birth of the City. Upon her unveiling the Swedish language newspapers in Helsinki and the sculptor himself started to call the sculpture ‘Havis Amanda’.

There are several other sculptures in the Esplanade gardens, including two by Viktor Jansson , the father of Tove Jansson, the author of the Moomin books

Tove Jansson modelled for her father for the mermaid.

Diverting off Esplanade I spotted this modern sculpture I in Kasarmitori, a rectangular square where the Finnish Defence Ministry is located in a former Neo-Classical Barracks designed by Carl Ludwig Engel.

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The modern sculpture by Pekka Kauhanen stands in front of the ministry and is The National Memorial to the Winter War  and was only installed in November 2016.

I made my way back to Esplanade park. This sculpture is  located at the end of the park, close to the Swedish Theatre

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Fact and Fable, memorial to Topelius by Gunnar Finne

consists of two allegorical female figures: ‘Fact’ with the flame of truth on her palm, and ‘Fable’ with the crown-headed bird of fable resting on her fingers. The figures face opposite directions: ‘Fact’ looks down the Esplanadi park while ‘Fable’s’ gaze is turned to the sidewalk off Pohjoisesplanadi’.

Reaching the end of Esplanade it was only a short walk back to my hotel. I’d walked a fair distance and it was time to find a café for a drink and a bite to eat.

The Sibelius Monument

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The Wednesday evening while I was in Helsinki was generally sunny. I’d planned a visit to HAM, the Helsinki Art Museum which was just round the corner from my hotel. When I’d finished looking around the exhibitions it was still sunny so I decided to take a walk over to the Sibelius Monument.

Designed by Eila Hiltunen, who was the winner of a competition organised by the Sibelius Society. The monument is sited in Sibelius Park, close to the sea, in  the Töölö district.

It’s made up of approximately 600 hand-textured acid-proof stainless steel tubes of various diameters, welded together in a wave like pattern. The abstract form resulted in some controversy when it was first installed on September 7, 1967.

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Personally, glittering in the sunshine, I rather liked it.

Close by the Monument there’s a sculpture of the face of Sibelius, added by the artist in response to some of the ctiticisms

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It’s a “must see” for visitors to Helsinki, so during the daytime is likely to be surrounded with swarms of tourists arriving by coach. However, on a sunny evening I had it almost to myself.

A walk to Kallio

On the Tuesday during my stay in Helsinki my wife had flown back home so I had the rest of the week on my own. I was working during the day but the course I was running finished at 5 I had the evening to occupy myself. I’m not one for sitting in hotel rooms just working and as it was light until late, I took the opportunity to explore the city.

A prominent landmark in Helsinki is the tower of a church up on a hill in the Kallio district. It can be seen from all over the city. I knew that it had been designed by the Finnish architect Lars Sonck, who is well known for his Jugendstil style buildings, so I decided to wander over to take a look. I could have caught the tram but decided that it was within walking distance and I needed some exercise!

I walked past the front of the railway station and then cut across past the Finnish National Theatre to the Kaisanemi park. The trees were still bare of leaves, Spring not having quite arrived in Helsinki. Heading diagonally across the park, I passed this statue, Convolvulus, by Viktor Jansson, the father of Tove Jansson, the artist and author of the Moomin books, who modelled for the sculpture. The pose made me think that she was practicing karate or Tai Chi!

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After crossing the bridge over the Pitkäsilta bridge I turned left, walking along the waterside. A little way along on my right I could see the Paasitorni, also known as the Helsinki Workers’ House, a Jugendstil building designed by Karl Lindahl, built from granite, which opened in 1908 as conference and leisure premises for the working class. It’s very characteristic of the Finnish National Romanticism Jugendstil style.

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On the square in front of the main entrance to the building I spotted this statue of two boxers by Johannes Haapasalo.

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Cutting back round to Siltasaarenkatu, I walked up the hill towards the church. It’s an imposing granite structure standing on top of the hill and, like the Paasitorni, built in the Finnish National Romanticism Jugendstil style.

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It’s an impressive building; solid and imposing but with some delicate decorative touches.

I had a look inside, but it looked as if a service was about to start to I snapped a few photos but felt it would be inappropriate to look around.

I spent a lttle time wandering round the nearby streets. Kallio, although originally a workers’ district has become gentrified and has something of a bohemian reputation.  I was also surprised by the number of “massage parlours” close to the church so Kallio clearly has a “red light district”, but not as blatant as Amsterdam.

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Heading back towards the city centre, near Paasitorni, I turned right and walked along the shore of Eläintarhanlahti

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and then over the railway bridge to Töölönlahti. These are both seawater lakes connected to each other and the sea by narrow straights. I walked south along the eastern shore from where there were views across to the Opera and Finlandia Hall.

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It was only a short distance back to my hotel.

 

A Visit to the Didrichsen Art Museum

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After arriving in Helsinki late Saturday afternoon, we had a full day on Sunday to explore and do a bit of tourism before my course started on Monday. The weather was rather cold and grey with rain showers so we decided that some indoor rip to activity was the best option. I suggested a visit out to the Didrichsen Art Museum which is a little way out from the city centre on the island of Kuusisaari so we took the metro and bus out and returned via bus and tram. I’d visited during a previous work related trip to Helsinki back in October 2014 when I’d seen an exhibition of works by Edvard Munch.

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

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The Museum has an extensive collection of works by 20th Century Finnish artists and works by international artists including Picasso, Kandinsky, Miró, Léger, Moore, Giacometti and Arp.  In addition they have a Pre-Columbian art collection and a collection of Oriental art. There’s also a sculpture garden with works displayed at the front of the house and in the wooded gardens at the back of the house leading down to the sea.

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During our visit the museum had two exhibitions. The main one featured works by two Finnish artists, a married couple, Ahti and Maija Lavonen. One of the rooms in the extension basement was displaying a selection of the main works from the Didrichsen modern collection – The Heart of the Didrichsen Collection. The exhibition is a preview of some of the gems of the nearly 100 works which will be shown at Millesgården in Stockholm during the summer of 2018.

I’ll cover the Ahti and Maija Lavonen exhibition in a separate post but here’s a selection of the works from The Heart of the Didrichsen Collection.

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Upright Interior Form (Flower) by Henry Moore

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Mother and child with wave background II by Henry Moore

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Demeter by Jean Arp

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Nu Debout by Pablo Picasso

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Eglise a Marnau by Wassilly Kadinsky

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a small sculpture by Giacometti

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small reclining figure by Henry Moore

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Curved form with inner form (Anima) by Barbara Hepworth

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The Sandman by Salvador Dali

and the sculpture garden.

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Augustus by Bernard Meadows

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Blueberries by Paula Salmela

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Dialogue by Eero Hiironen

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Watergate by Eero Hiironen

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Crosswork by Mauno Hartman

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Mama Africa by Tilla Kekki

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Mama Europaby Tilla Kekki

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Atom Piece by Henry Moore

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Assemble by Lionel Smit

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Sunflower Field by Eila Hiltunen

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Turbulence by Eila Hiltunen

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Arctic Aphrodite by Laila Pullinen

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Crescendo by Laila Pullinen

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Stele deOfferende by Mario Negri

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Street Haunting in Spitalfields

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Last Tuesday I was working in the east of London, in Aldgate. After work, I still had 2 and 1/2 hours to kill before my train so, as it was a pleasant afternoon, I decided to have a wander around Spitalfields, a short walk away.

In the 17th and 18th century the area was associated with silk weaving after Huguenots fleeing from persecution in France settled here and brought their skills with them. Later, Irish linen workers settled here. In the Victorian period, following the decline of the silk and linen industries it became something of a notorious slum. There were further waves of Jewish and then Bangladeshi immigrants bringing new cultures and energy to the area. Today, like much of the East End it’s become somewhat gentrified. The old Victorian market and surrounding streets being redeveloped.

It’s an interesting place to walk around, with some historic buildings and modern street art to look at.

For me, the star of the show is Hawksmoor’s magnificent gleaming white Christ Church

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one of the six, eccentric English Baroque churches for which he is best known.

There’s an interesting war memorial in the church yard.

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Close by, on Commercial Street,  the Fruit and Wool exchange building has been controversially redeveloped against local opposition, over-ruled by the former Mayor of London and current “Clown Secretary”. The white neo-Classical façade has, fortunately, been preserved.

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A number of old commercial buildings nearby  have also been preserved

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I quite liked this building with it’s neo-Gothic features

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and these more modern flats with an Art Deco look

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There’s street art dotted around the redeveloped market. Here’s a selection I spotted.

The Spitalfields Goat by Kenny Hunter

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A pear and a fig by Ali Grant

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Dogman and Rabbitgirl with coffee by Gillie and Marc

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Wooden Boat with Seven People by Kalliopi Lemos, features an authentic boat that was used to transport refugees from Turkey to the shores of the Greek islands. The installation aims to reflect Spitalfields’ rich history of providing shelter for successive waves of migrants across the centuries.

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I couldn’t find out who had created this “steampunk” motorbike

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