Last year was another outstanding year for the visual arts in Yorkshire with a number of venues offering memorable, world-class exhibitions – and 2019 is already looking as though it could be of a similar vintage.
One of the biggest visual arts news stories, not only in the region but nationally over the next twelve months, will be Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019. The UK’s largest sculpture festival will be taking place across Leeds and Wakefield from June until September presenting sculpture by artists from around the world.
Hosted by four internationally renowned cultural institutions based right here in Yorkshire – Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Henry Moore Institute – the free 100-day festival will feature newly commissioned work and key sculptures by leading international artists in a programme exploring what it means to create sculpture today. Ten Yorkshire artists will also be creating collaborative work with schools and communities. The whole project is extremely exciting and one of which the region should rightly be very proud.
York Art Gallery will be hosting a major new exhibition to celebrate two of the most celebrated artists of the 19th century. Opening in March, Ruskin, Turner and the Storm Cloud: Watercolours and Drawings will explore our relationship with the environment and issues around mental health through the work of John Ruskin, the leading art critic of the Victorian era, and the artist J M W Turner. The show will consider in particular Ruskin’s eloquent critical response to Turner’s landscapes and will bring together significant works from York’s own collection together with loans from national and regional collections and new commissions from contemporary artists. The gallery will also be hosting the Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition from March to September and another highlight will be a visit to York from Nicolas Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan, a work from the National Gallery’s Collection which is going on tour to three venues this year.
Impressions Gallery in Bradford always has thought-provoking exhibitions and its next one is no exception. Prospect Refuge Hazard showcases the work of Helen Sear who uses video, photography and sound to invite the viewer into forests and woodlands to think about how humans and animals co-exist in the natural world.
Also in Bradford, the National Science and Media Museum’s 2019 programme includes an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of humans first setting foot on the moon to explore how science has enabled people on earth to see and hear what happens in the outer reaches of the galaxy. In Leeds, The Tetley has two shows opening in February which both explore important political and social moments in history. In The Tent, Kannan Arunasalam, in his first UK solo exhibition, reflects on identity and loss against the lasting impact of Sri Lanka’s civil war, 1983 to 2009. In For Oluwale, Rasheed Araeen presents work in response to the 50th anniversary of the death of British-Nigerian David Oluwale who drowned in the River Aire in April 1969 after being systematically harassed by members of the Leeds police force.
This is just a snapshot of what will be happening across our fantastic visual arts organisations this year. Make sure you get along to some of them, you will not be disappointed.