UK's biggest sculpture festival announces international line-up

A sculptor who last Easter unveiled two monumental figures on the roof of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, is revealed today as one of the artists whose work will decorate two Yorkshire cities next year.

A sculpture by artist Huma Bhabha  'We Come in Peace 2017'
A sculpture by artist Huma Bhabha 'We Come in Peace 2017'

Huma Bhabha, a Pakistani-American whose 12ft grotesque, titled We Come in Peace, still stands against the Manhattan skyline, will produce her next work in Wakefield city centre as part of the first Yorkshire Sculpture International, a £1.4m event aimed at placing the former home of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth at the centre of today’s sculpture world.

Ms Bhabha, who is based in Poughkeepsie, in New York State’s Hudson Valley, will spend time in Yorkshire creating a large-scale work that will go on show in a public location.

The Turkish artist Ayşe Erkmen will produce a second open-air work, to be exhibited in the centre of Leeds.

A sculpture by Ayse Erkmen Glass Works 2015.

The triennial festival, which brings together the Henry Moore Institute, the Hepworth Wakefield, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Leeds Art Gallery, will announce today that its line-up also includes the international sculptors Wolfgang Laib, Rashid Johnson, Tau Lewis, David Smith and Nobuko Tsuchiya.

Laib, the German artist famous for sculpting “Milkstones” from marble and milk, exhibited at the Henry Moore Studio in Halifax’s Dean Clough Mills 25 years ago.

Jane Bhoyroo, the event’s producer, said the pulling power of the four institutions, all of which are centred on Leeds and Wakefield, had been instrumental in attracting some of the world’s biggest names.

“They’ve all said yes and they’re all really interested in this new venture,” Ms Bhoyroo said.

“We are known as the home of sculpture but through this project we really want to become known internationally, and we also want local people to become more aware of the institutions.

“We’re hoping that when they see the sculpture on the streets, people will think about coming over the threshold of the organisations if they haven’t visited already.”

She said the festival would be “a major new addition to not just the cultural calendar, but to Yorkshire’s tourism as a whole”.

Ms Erkmen already thought of Leeds as her studio, Ms Bhoyroo added.

“Having these artists on board, you really feel the event is taking shape and form, and the way they are approaching their subjects is really going to make visitors think about what sculpture can be, in the most fascinating way.”

The artists themselves have yet to reveal the nature of their individual pieces, and their precise city centre locations are also still under wraps.

The festival, partly funded by Arts Council England, will run over 100 days from June 22 to September 29 next year, with free entry to all exhibits.