I had the pleasure of visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park last week. It is an open-air art gallery, set in the grounds of an eighteenth-century mansion. The landscaped gardens work together with the sculptures to create an amazing creative harmony.
There is such a variety of sculptures and each one inspires questions. Indeed, it is amazing the way in which perfect strangers are happy to discuss the sculptures without worrying about their interpretations. Perhaps the visitors feel uninhibited as they are not confined by the walls of gallery that echoes with knowledge. Who knows?’
During the walk, we stumbled on many people from different nationalities. An Australian woman told me that she had been ‘startled’ by a wonderful sculpture of a woman’s head. We agreed that the spirit of the woman seems to beckon you. From a distance, the sculpture looks like a projected image – prompting: is she real or imaginary? As you approach, the sculpture is flat – like the silhouette on a stamp. It is a beautiful form that seemed to appeal to women rather than men, on that day. Despite the grey sky, the light was adding a mystical quality that gave the sculpture an air of confidence. What this suggesting something about the modern woman?
Further into the walk, we were greeted by Highland cattle. These creatures were so still, and at ease with the visitors, that we wondered if they were sculptures. We also found a dead tree with ancient looking bark and a very twisted form. Had the tree been left there to demonstrate how natural objects can also be sculpted by the elements? We were having this debate when another visitor overheard and said, ‘What a load of arty farty nonsense!’ This brought us completely down to earth and reminded me of how everything is open to interpretation.
Still laughing at the comments, we found some steps that were carved into the earth paving a way to some open woodland. I decided that the steps were a sculpture but my husband was sceptical at this point; he had been influenced by our fellow Yorkshire folk. A plaque marked the spot as if to reassure me. It felt as if someone was presenting a hopeful message about the climb. Pardon the pun, but I went a step further and commented that to me they represented the struggle for independent authors. But that was my interpretation at that point in time: I was influenced by my emotions, experience, the weather and, of course, ‘arty farty nonsense’.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a wonderful place to visit. I wonder if you would be able to spot the sculptures that instigated our discussions? Would you agree with the interpretations? Did someone deliberately construct a place when art can be read according to mood, weather and other factors? I don’t know the answer to this but invite you to have a look. Perhaps some of the questions should be placed next to the sculptures? Maybe, there will be a sculpture of a handbag in the future, or possibly a sculpture constructed of books.
Following the visit, I was brimming with questions and ideas. Reading the sculptures inspired my own writing, and reminded me that it is so important to take some time for reflection. I placed picture postcards of the sculptures in my handbag, rather than books. However, I know that I will return to ask more questions and to find a suitable reading spot – or maybe several.
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