New sculptures have been introduced and old favourites restored to celebrate 40 years of art without walls at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
As part of the 40th anniversary, the introduction of new sculptures to different areas of the Park have opened up new vistas across the historic landscape. Popular existing attractions, such as Barbara Hepworth’s iconic The Family of Man (1970) have been expertly restored and re-sited.
VIDEO: British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové has a major work at the Park – Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness (2016) – a mass of identical two-metre-tall figures that creates a striking statement within the Park’s 18th-century landscape. See video at the top of this page - or CICK HERE.
MORE VIDEO: One of the most prestigious works to arrive at the Park this year is Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (2010) by the internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Watch the YouTube video embedded here on this page - or CLICK HERE.
This dramatic group of 12 bronze animal heads has been on a worldwide tour since May 2011, making a colossal migration through Europe, Asia and the Americas. Viewed by millions of people in person, on the internet and through digital media, the work is one of the most viewed sculpture projects in the history of contemporary art. Visitors to YSP can see the seminal artwork until April 22, 2018.
VIDEO: Check out YSP’s Youtube channel to watch films about some of the other artists featured – CLICK HERE.
Some of these projects are hugely complicated and require the whole team of technicians to be involved.
Alan Mackenzie is YSP’s Head of Sculpture and Estates and has worked at the Park for 25 years.
Fortunately for YSP, he’s a problem solver with a can-do attitude to his work. He said: "I really like solving problems, I really like difficult problems and when I’ve no idea how to do something I really enjoy finding out who is going to help me.”
Zak Ové's Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness - see the video at the top of this page- is powerful and totemic. The impact of the group is amplified through their repeated forms, facing forward to confront the viewer en masse.
His work alludes to Ralph Ellison’s acclaimed novel The Invisible Man, a pioneering consideration of racism and marginalised communities in the USA told through the eyes of its black protagonist.
Speaking of installing the Ové figures Alan says: “One of the biggest challenges was to excavate 80 holes for the bases of the sculptures without damaging the lawn. We needed a really specialist bit of earth-drilling equipment, which meant we could prepare the site without having to do a huge amount of landscaping. I was really pleased with the outcome – the figures look like they’ve just landed.”
Alan has worked on some of YSP’s most ambitious projects, including the Andy Goldsworthy exhibition in 2007, which involved months of work with a team of farmers, foresters, technicians and volunteers.
Remembering the project he said: “You have to get on with your neighbours and many of ours are farmers – some of the things that we’ve done here would have been impossible without the help of those farmers!
“Trying to understand what an artist is trying to do is the most important thing… if the plan changes it’s all part of the creative process. The point I always try to make to the artists is that we always work really hard to make the very best possible exhibition.”
Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, who many will remember for his moving exhibition at the Park in 2011, has also returned this year. A beautiful seven-metre-high cast iron sculpture Wilsis (2016) overlooks the lakes and belongs to a series of portrait heads by the artist.
The girl appears to be thinking of something beyond the present, her youthful aura suggesting hope and potential. This feeling of otherworldliness is emphasised by the elongation of the physical portrait through digital manipulation, which the artist feels removes a sense of the real, material body and instead reaches the spirit beyond.
Experiencing the work at YSP is a journey of discovery, first glimpsed in a beautiful setting across the lake, and revealed fully as you walk around to discover it more closely.
Speaking of the installation, Alan said: “The access to this area of the Park, known as Menagerie Wood, is almost impossible. We had to get all the concrete in there for the foundation, not to mention the sculpture which weighs eight tonnes.
"There’s no way to get there across the bridges so we had to take all the concrete and the sculpture on a 5.5km journey through the estate. But it looks fantastic and I’m really pleased that it’s encouraged people into what is one of my favourite parts of the Park.”
READ MORE: Yorkshire Sculpture Park celebrates 40th anniversary - founder Peter Murray CBE reveals what he's most proud about at YSP - CLICK HERE.
For more visit the official YSP web site at ysp.org.uk.