Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art

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After looking round the exhibition in the old Chapel, we walked across the Country Park, down rast the lower lake and up the hill to the Longside Gallery where there was yet another new exhibition to see! Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art is a survey of

painting and sculpture from the Arts Council Collection, and augmented with major loans from important UK collections…. (which) …… examines the art of the 1960s through a fresh and surprising lens, one bringing into direct view the relationship between colour and form, rationality and irrationality, order and waywardness.

There’s a good selection of works by 20 British artists including  Anthony Caro, Bridget Riley and William Turnbull. I was familiar with some of them but there were some discoveries (always good!).

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The works on display included examples of Op Art, Pop Art and Constructivism, and

the sequential placement of brightly-coloured abstract units found in New Generation sculpture.

The Longside gallery is another good, airy exhibition space with large windows facing north letting in plenty of light.

Here are a selection of the works I liked

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Blue Ring (1966) by David Annesley

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Slow Movement (1965) by Anthony Caro

 

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Thebes (1966) by William Tucker

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Double Red (1966) by William Turnbull

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Quinquereme (1966) by Tim Scott

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Movement in Squares (1961) by Bridget Riley

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Ilmater (1966-7) by Jeffery Steele

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Holywood Pix (1967) by Anthony Donaldson

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Pelagic II (1967) by Bernard Farmer

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15.5.64 (1964) by John Hoyland

One of my favourites was Suspense (1966) by Peter Sedgely. This was one of a small number of works from the exhibition where photography wasn’t allowed. Another example of Op Art (like the paintings by Bridget Riley and Jeffery Steele, it was painted in such a way that it seemed that the image was out of focus – very clever!

Another good exhibition – worth the walk up the hill!!

[Re]construct at the YSP

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There’s always plenty to see at the YSP so after our first look around the Tony Cragg exhibition we had something to eat and then walked over to the former chapel which has been converted into an excellent exhibition space to see the [Re]construction exhibition which had only opened a few days before.

Selected largely from the Arts Council Collection by YSP, as part of the National Partners Programme, the exhibition questions what we know and understand about architecture, and features work by artists including Martin Creed, Anya Gallaccio and Cornelia Parker.

Walking through the entrance the first thing we saw was what appeared to be a brick wall with a large section of bricks that had melted.

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This was Alex Chinneck’s A hole in a bag of nerves (2017) which was constructed especially for the exhibition. The bricks are made of wax and a section has been melted with a hot air heater.

The centre of the main space was dominated by Cornelia Parker’s Neither From Nor Towards.

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This work comprises weathered bricks from a row of houses destroyed when they slipped into the sea on the south-east coast following the erosion of the cliffs. The bricks are suspended in space, recreating their fall. Like the exploding house we saw at the Whtworth a couple of years ago it was an impressive work.

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This work, can love remember the question and the answer, is by Anya Gallaccio

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Those are real flowers trapped between the glass panes in the mahogany door. The flowers will rot and decay, so the work will change subtly over the course of the exhibition.

There were a number of video works included in the exhibition. I found two of them, Rooms designed for a woman by Emily Speed and Device by John Wood and Paul Harrison – the “ art-world equivalent of Laurel and Hardy” according to the Tate website  showing in the Chapel’s gallery, particularly interesting.

Tony Cragg at the YSP

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The latest main exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a major retrospective of the work of Tony Cragg – a British sculptor who lives and works in Germany. It includes 14 large sculptures (made within the last 10 years) displayed in the grounds, 35 indoors in the Underground and Garden Galleries and 80 works on paper.

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We drove over earlier this week, braving the long term roadworks on the M60, to take a look and were well impressed!

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Tony Cragg was born in Liverpool and initially worked as a lab technician for the National Rubber Producers’ Research Association. He enrolled on the foundation course at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design in Cheltenham in 1969 when he was 20 and then went on to study at Wimbledon School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He won the Turner Prize in 1988 and represented Britain at the 42nd Venice Biennale in the same year.

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Initially he was associated with the Land Art movements, concentrating on site-specific installations of found objects and discarded materials. This early part of his career wasn’t particularly covered in the exhibition other than a small selection of works and photographs  in the Project Space in the Underground Gallery, including this one

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New Figuration (1985) – made from plastic objects washed up along the Rhine.

This is another relatively early work, in this case made using heavy-duty metal industrial components

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Minster (1992)

The majority of the larger sculptures on display, however are from his later Early Forms and Rational Beings series.

Cragg started creating his Early Forms in the late 1980s.  They’re based on various types of vessels, such as laboratory test tubes and flasks, jars and bottles which he has “morphed” to form abstract shapes and forms, but with an element of the form of the original object still present. They rather reminded me of plastic or rubber mouldings where the production process has gone wrong resulting in a deformed shape. I’ve seen similar mishaped mouldings when I’ve been visiting rubber and plastic production sites during my work.  No doubt Cragg saw similar things when he working in the rubber industry which gave him some inspiration for this series.

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The starting point for the works in Cragg’s Rational Beings series are profiles of the human face or, sometimes, body. But they’re overlaid and manipulated so that it’s initially difficult to make out the origin of the complex forms he creates from overlaid discs of wood or other materials, in some cases left as wooden sculptures, in other cases casting them in bronze or other metals.

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Look closely from the right angle and the profiles of human faces or figures can be seen

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Other works included examples from his Hedge series

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and a couple of sculptures from the more recent Skull series

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This sculpture has it’s surface entirely covered with dice

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and this one, the surface covered with letters, is reminiscent of the work of Jaume Plensa

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Manipulation (2008)

The Garden Gallery displays concentrated on smaller sculptures and works on paper

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including pictures of test tubes inspired by his time working as a lab technician.

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I particularly liked a couple of smaller sculptures made from glass

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This is a superb exhibition and will definitely benefit from a second visit. We’re already planning one for July!

A Cold, Grey Day at the YSP

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When we were over at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the new Year’s Bank Holiday Iwe splashed out and bought a print from Flights of Memory the exhibition of works by Angela Harding: Mid week, while I was working away in Ireland, I received a phone call telling me that it had come back from being framed and was ready for collection. So Sunday we decided to drive over to pick it up and have a walk round the Country Park. The Not Vital exhibition finished at the beginning of the month and there was nothing on at the Longside or Bothy Galleries either, but I fancied getting some fresh air and stretching my legs in pleasant countryside after a week stuck indoors working and travelling. And it’s always good to see the sculptures dotted around the park, even if they are quite familiar after our many visits over the past few years.

It was a cold, grey day but there was no wind or rain to speak of, so after parking up (on the overflow car park as, to our surprise, there were plenty of visitors) and having a bite to eat we set off for a walk down the hill towards the lakes at the bottom of the valley. We’d decided to circumnavigate them and then make our way through the park back up to the shop to collect the print.

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I like the decorative features on the bridge

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The view up the Lower Lake

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Walking along the south bank of the Lower Lake we passed some highland cattle

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Not so keen on those horns but she was placid enough.

This sculpture was relocated from the other side of the lake last year

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Woodland Spirit – Diana by Lucy and Jorge Orta

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We rather liked the new setting in the water.

We crossed the dam and carried on along the south shore of the Upper Lake, passing Red Slate Line by Richard Long

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At the end of the Upper Lake we passed this landlocked boathouse

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Inside was Eddy by JocJonJosch

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This obelisk stands the woods on the north shore,

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Tread Pad by James Capper at the bottom end of the Upper Lake by the Cascade Bridge.

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We continued along the path following the north shore of the Lower Lake

Looking past Promenade by Anthony Caro towards Bretton Hall

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A heron was perched on a branch in the Lower Lake

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Reaching the two works by David Nash towards the far end of the Upper Lake

49 Square

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and Black Mound

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Cutting back across the field where a number of sculptures by local lad Henry Moore are displayed

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Cutting across the lower fieldrh

Shogun by Philip King

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However Incongruous, a three-dimensional rendition of Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinoceros woodcut by Raqs Media Collective.

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Almost back to the main building we passed a collection of Joan Miro sculptures

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Time for a flat white before collecting our print from the shop and heading off home.

Now we need to decide where we’re going to hang it!

A Winter’s Day at the YSP

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New Year’s Day being a Sunday, Monday was a Bank Holiday. We decided we’d drive back over the M62 to Wakefield, this time to combine art with some exercise at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. (and try out my new camera!)

We set off reasonably early, arriving about 11 o’clock as we wanted to make the most of the short hours of daylight. Parking up on the old car park we walked up towards the Underground Gallery and YSP centre, passing an old favourite, Barbara Hepworth’s Family of Man.

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The Ultimate Form

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It looked like the family had been given something of a makeover and in November it  had been d re-sited further along the Hillside, away from the now mature trees, in order to give an unobstructed view of the work and to protect the tree roots. The work had also been cordoned off, meaning it was not longer possible to get in amongst the individual pieces which could now only viewed from a (albeit short) distance.I hope this is only temporary while the newly laid turf beds in.

After some dinner, we set off for a walk down to Longside and back. A decent circuit taking in several notable art works on the way. It was a fine day. Cold, but sunny with a clear blue sky.

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We headed across to the old Georgian chapel.

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The current exhibition We Listen for the Future features four pieces of “sound art” by a South African artist, James Webb.

At one end of the chapel there was a large bank of speakers playing intermittent sounds made by fists banging on a door – Untitled (with the sound of its own making), 2016. It’s intended to

reference ancient law of religious sanctuary, as well as the current refugee crisis

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I rather liked another of the exhibits – All that is Unknown, 2016. This comprised a pair of speakers facing each other across the length of the room in the upstairs gallery, which played the sound of a heartbeat very faintly so it could only be heard by putting your ear very close to the speakers.

While we were inside the chapel strong sunlight shining through one of the windows created an interesting pattern of light and shadow on the facing wall.

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Leaving the chapel we set off down the hill, passing this work by Henry Moore

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and further down the hill, Shadow Stone Fold by Andy Goldsworthy was occupied by a flock of sheep.

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We crossed the bridge over the river at the bottom of the lake. Looking back we could see two works by David Nash49 Square (49 Himalayan birch trees, which, planted in seven rows of seven), and a collection of charred wood stumps, Black Mound.

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We started to climb the hill towards Oxley Bank, via another work by David Nash,

Seventy-one Steps climbs from the lake up to the top of the bank, connecting the two sides of the valley and the four galleries. Seventy one huge oak steps, carefully charred and oiled, follow the lie of the land on the hill. The steps are completed by 30 tonnes of coal embedded between the steps to create a stunning installation that will erode and change over time.

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These tree roots aren’t actually real

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they’re another work of art. Speed Breakers by Hemali Bhuta are the roots of a fallen beech tree, cast in bronze and installed on the path up on Oxley Bank

Then another work by Andy Goldsworthy – Hanging Trees, three enclosures built into one of the estate’s historic ha-has

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with sections of trees incorporated into the walls

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Further down towards Longside, in the woods, another Goldsworthy – Outclosure. A round stone enclosure, the walls too high to peer inside.

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Approaching Longside, looking back across the valley towards Bretton Hall.

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We passed a field of rare breed sheep

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The Longside Gallery is currently closed so we set off across the fields back towards the main part of the Estate.

Reaching the Lake, a closer view of the old Hall

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The two lakes were both partly frozen

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We passed Anthony Gormley’s One & Other

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Setting back up the hill we passed several works including  Ten Seated Figures. by The Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz

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The bright sunshine really brought out the rusty red colour on the  rough surface of the bronze sculptures

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Crawking one of Sophie Ryder’s giant hare/human hybrids

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And then back up towards the Underground Gallery passing Barbara Hepworth’s Square With Two Circles

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This was the last day of the Not Vital exhibition we’d seen earlier in 2016. That had been a dull day, but  Monday’s bright sunshine brought out the best of  the stainless steel sculptures displayed outdoors

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We took the opportunity to have a final look around the works displayed in the Underground Gallery

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We also saw some of the paintings by Kate Daudy on various walls around the Park for her work This is Water. The images are scattered around the park and it would have been interesting to seek them out, but unfortunately with limited hours of daylight time didn’t permit.

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After a strong shot of caffeine via a “flat white” we took a final stroll along the Lower Lake

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getting a closer look at David Nash’s Black Mound

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and 49 Square

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Reaching the end of the lake

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we set up back up the hill towards the YSP Centre. It was only 4 o’clock but the sun was beginning to set behind this work by Henry Moore.

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A final look at the Not Vital sculptures in the garden by the Underground Gallery

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and it was time to go back to the car, change out of our boots and set off back home after another good day at the YSP.

KAWS in the open air at YSP

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During our visit to the YSP last Saturday we missed seeing the KAWS exhibition in the Longside Gallery that had closed the week before. However a number of his monumentally large cartoon like figures are still on display until the end of the year down at the bottom of the main field near to the lake.

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They’re very creepy to say the least. Like monstrous relatives of Mickey Mouse towering over visitors. They seemed very popular with children some of whom were having fun mimicking their poses.

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Not Vital at the YSP

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After looking round the Hepworth Gallery last Saturday, we drove the few miles over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to take a look at the exhibition that opened a few weeks ago. As with other major exhibitions we’ve visited at the YSP there were a large number of works created from plaster, silver, gold, marble, glass,coal,  stainless steel and bronze, displayed both inside the Underground Gallery and outdoors in the gardens, with a few works showing in the small Garden Gallery.

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Not Vital. I assumed that this was an ironic name of a collective of artists. It couldn’t possibly be someone’s name. But checking with one of the YSP’s staff in the Underground Gallery revealed that I was wrong. It was the name of a Swiss artist from Sent, a village in the Lower Engadin region of Switzerland. He’s Romansh and that’s his “mother tongue” ,so I guess that explains his unusual name, his surname being pronounced Veetahl.

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The YSP’s website provides some biographical details

Internationally renowned as a leading sculptor, this is Not Vital’s first major exhibition in the UK. With studios in the tiny Swiss village of Sent and Beijing, China, as well as homes in Rio de Janeiro and Niger, the exhibition reflects Vital’s nomadic and diverse practice

His work encompasses sculpture, drawing, painting, ceramics and architecture, and there were examples of all of these included in the exhibition.

We looked round the Underground Gallery first

These four self portraits, distorted in various ways and perched on top of tall poles, were displayed in the entrance hall

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The first of the galleries contained Last Supper, a work specially created for the exhibition on the back wall of the room. 12 black head shapes with a 13th which was white and only visible on close inspection. In front of the wall there were 5 precarious looking Walking Benches

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In the second gallery, my favourite work – Heads (2013). Crafted from panels of stainless steel they reflected the surrounding surfaces, as well as visitors in the room

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The third gallery contained a number of works, most of which were clearly influenced by his native land.

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This sculpture at first glance resembled the antlers of a mountain goat, but attatched to it were letters that spelled out the name of the work – Nietzsche.

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I particularly liked this glass globe containing a snowball (is it real?)

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There were more “snowballs” splattered against one of the walls

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The final room in the Underground Gallery – the Project Space – is used to display contextual materials such as sketchbooks, maquettes, models and the like and videos. For this exhibition the space was filled with models of architectural structures designed by the artist. Some have been realised and constructed in various parts of the world – in the Brazilian Amazon, Belgium, Chilean Patagonia, Indonesia, Niger, Switzerland, and the Philippines. – while others were conceptual.

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Outdoors there were a number of large sculptures.

Moon (2005) was particularly popular with visitors and I was lucky to be able to get a shot without anyone in the way. A polished stainless steel sphere pocked with craters, each one individually made by Chinese craftsmen and based on photographs of the moon; little concave mirrors which produced multiple inverted reflections of the viewer.

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A towering Tongue (2008) standing tall in the Bothy garden. An abstract stainless steel sculpture modelled on a cow’s tongue.

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These porcelain Heads (2016) were created for the exhibition. Like the other large pieces they were designed by the artist but realised by craftsmen in Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of China.

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The sculptures represent symbolic heads and on top of each of them is a representation of the chimneys from the coal-fired kilns that were once used to fire the pots but which, today, have been replaced by modern gas and electricity kilns.

On the roof of the Underground Gallery, a model of on of the artist’s architectural structures – A House to Watch the Sunset (200) which is located in Niger.

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This installation, Let 100 Flowers Bloom (2005), was inspired by Mao Zedong’s call in 1956, encouraging the Chinese citizens to openly express their opinions of the communist regime. After a short period of liberalisation there was a crackdown on anyone who did express criticism of the regime.

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The work consists of 100 large stainless steel lotus buds and stems laid out on the ground.

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These ceramic pieces were on display in the small Garden Gallery

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together with the Laos Series of abstract paper works

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So, another interesting and stimulating exhibition at the YSP introducing us to another artist we were unaware of.