My Yorkshire: Peter Murray

Born in Middlesbrough, Peter Murray is the executive director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton, near Wakefield, which he founded in 1977. He is married to the German academic, Christine Haase.

What's your first memory of being outdoors?

Early childhood memories are of playing football in the back streets of Middlesbrough, walking across the nearby Eston Hills with my father, uncles and brothers, and taking the United 58 bus with my gran and mother across the Cleveland Hills from Middlesbrough to Whitby.

What's your favourite part of the county and why?

I'm very lucky to arrive at work every day and be surrounded by beautiful countryside. I'm fond of the areas around Holmfirth, Hepworth and Rievaulx Abbey, but my favourite is probably the east coast from Whitby to Staithes. It's full of happy memories for me, and I love the contrast and connections of its history – industry, agriculture, religion and the sea.

What's your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire?

Breakfast with my wife, Christine, in the garden and a trip across the moors to Whitby for a walk on the beach – then fish and chips, or dinner in a country pub homeward bound.

Do you have a favourite walk, or view?

It's hard to choose – the view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park from the Bothy Garden looking across the park to the Longside Gallery is exquisite and something I never tire of. It's a simple pleasure to slip out of the office for some fresh air and take in the view. Walks in the landscape near Hepworth and Holmfirth are always revitalising. However, the walk along the cliffs from Whitby to Runswick Bay, with amazing views of land, sky and sea, takes some beating.

Which Yorkshire sportsman/woman (past or present) would you like to take for lunch?

It has to be Wilf Mannion (1918-2000) who played for Middlesbrough and England – one of the most underestimated footballers of the last century. Former Wakefield Trinity rugby stars, the modest Harold Poynton or the great Neil Fox, would be a close second.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch?

James Mason would have been interesting, but the chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, Sir Patrick Stewart, would be a great lunch companion.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The contrast and variation between urban and industrial sprawl and the

coast and the rural, but above all, the wonderfully varied rugged yet fragile landscape reflected in the character of the people.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so what?

I was interested in cricket and Rugby League, but now I mainly follow football.

What about Yorkshire's cultural life?

Yorkshire has an abundance of culture – from good theatre, dance, opera, music, great museums and art galleries, along with continued investment in new venues like MIMA, in Middlesbrough, to the excitement in West Yorkshire with the opening of the Hepworth Wakefield.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub?

There are many good places to eat in Yorkshire. I always liked the White Horse & Griffin in Whitby. The Kaye Arms, between Wakefield and Huddersfield, and the Three Acres Inn, near Huddersfield, have served us well, as has the Mustard & Punch in Honley. I'm also told the restaurant at YSP is quite good. And, of course, the Butchers Arms in Hepworth.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Bettys is always enjoyable, Blacker Hall Farmshop, near YSP, is great and we love the fish market in Leeds.

If you had to name your Yorkshire hidden gem, what would it be?

I always think YSP is a bit of a hidden gem: I'm sure many people driving by on the M1 would be amazed at what they would find here. The fish & chip shop in Scholes is on my list as is Wakefield's impressive Chantry Chapel, one of only four of its kind in the UK that has survived from the Middle Ages.

How do you think Yorkshire has changed in the time you've known it?

There have been massive changes. The industrial decline of traditional industries has altered the character of the region. Good food and "proper" coffee are now available in every corner of Yorkshire, and there has been great investment in culture and architecture, with RIBA Stirling Prize winners responsible for striking Yorkshire projects in recent years – Feilden Clegg Bradley for the award-winning Underground Gallery at YSP, and David Chipperfield Architects for the Hepworth Wakefield.

Are these changes for the better?

There is much greater emphasis on the quality of life but the inequalities left by the demise of traditional industry are still marked. Industrial change, particularly the decline of coal mining, has resulted in a loss of skills, tradition and employment, which is very sad.

Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire?

There are many from historical figures such as Captain Cook to artistic talents like Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. They both drew inspiration from the Yorkshire landscape and went on to establish international reputations, and we are proud to have wonderful examples of their sculpture at YSP. The person I most admire, however, is William Wilberforce.

How has Yorkshire influenced your work?

My work and Yorkshire are very closely linked. I thrive in my work, and feel a great sense of achievement that something so special here has been created in and through the fine Yorkshire landscape.

Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer

An impossible question. I have so many – from the Bronts, Alan Bennett and Simon Armitage to Arctic Monkeys and David Hockney. Henry Moore is especially significant to me. He was a founding patron of YSP and chose the county park area as a place to site some of his finest works.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is open seven days a week.