Travel | Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield…

During the Easter break, and our trip to Yorkshire & Cumbria, we stopped off at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park before driving home.  YSP is in Wakefield, just south of Leeds, where Dan’s brother lives, so it made a brilliant place to meet up with family before heading home.

The sun was shining and it felt like Spring was finally here, for my first visit to the space.  I wasn’t expecting it to be so vast… more like a large stately garden, with open fields dotted with sculptures from famous artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Damien Hirst, and Ai Weiwei  to name a few.

In 1977 Bretton Hall College lecturer Peter Murray proposed siting sculpture in the Estate, opening the landscape to the public for the first time and providing artists with the opportunity to explore sculptural issues in the open-air. And so, out of Bretton Hall, Yorkshire Sculpture Park evolved. YSP is committed to keeping the educational ethos of Bretton alive via its support of emerging artists and the learning programme that see’s thousands of people involved in participatory workshops and events every year.

When the College closed in 2007, the buildings were sold to Wakefield Council and YSP took over the management of the whole 500-acre landscape. The Hall is now leased and managed by Rushbond Plc who are working to transform it into a luxury hotel.

We absolutely loved the installation in the old chapel. Artist, Kimsooja, has totally transformed the old building into a magical wonderland.  Named, To Breathe, the installation uses light and mirrors and the latest in a series of projects exploring meditative qualities of space.

For the past 25 years the artist has used the form and idea of ‘bottari’ – the South Korean word for a bundle wrapped in fabric, which Kimsooja identifies as “a self-contained world – but one which, like a vessel, can contain everything materially and conceptually”. Traditionally used for moving possessions from place to place, the bottari references the displacement of people. Kimsooja has extended the idea to incorporate larger spaces and even architecture, meaning that whole buildings could also be wrapped to alter, contain and re-shape what was within.
To Breathe in the Chapel the floor is covered with a mirrored surface, which is really mind bending.  Unsure of where to step, it makes walking in the space a weird experience. Kimsooja also placed diffraction film on all the windows, the light that enters forms a myriad of rainbow spectrums across the space, which are reflected infinitely via the mirrored floor.  It was a good job it was so sunny, we got to see the rainbows in such an amazing effect.
To me, the best things about visiting art galleries and renovated museums is the architecture and how it ‘speaks’ to the environment.  The new Weston entrance to YSP is magnificent.  Made  of wood, terrazzo, concrete and glass, the whole space is open to the fields and the views beyond.  I could have spent a while just sitting there in the sun.


West Bretton
Wakefield WF4 4LG

Website: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Entrance is free – but be warned parking is £12 for the day.