Austin Wright

Ring, 1965 Image 1 of 3
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19.11.11 - 12.02.12
Austin Wright had a long and important relationship with YSP. A member of the original management committee in 1977, Wright had a major solo exhibition here in 1981 and a decade later, to celebrate his 80th birthday, YSP organised a display of sculpture in the artist’s garden at Upper Poppleton.

The current display of drawings and sculpture marks the centenary of the artist who was born in 1911 and died in 1997.

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Wright became known for his use of aluminium, which he felt had great potential to reflect and respond to the subtleties of light and shadow in the open air. He noted that “Moore looked to the earth for inspiration; I look to the sky”. As a result, many of his sculptural forms have a strong vertical emphasis, seeming to reach upwards, echoing the growth of plants.

Gesture had an important place in Wright’s practice and he described his sculpture Ring as reflecting the “whoop of joy when I circled my arms in the air on hearing an American collector had bought one of my sculptures”. Such emphatic circular forms also evoke the artist’s interest in Japanese calligraphic strokes, something made clear in the striking brush and ink works on paper shown here. Other drawings reveal Wright’s process in which, “the ideas are turned over, in small line drawings, playing with proportions and structure, hardening the forms”.

Although he spent his youth in Wales, Wright’s links to Yorkshire were keenly felt and he lived in the same house near York for over 50 years until his death. His association with Wakefield dates back to the 1950s when he exhibited at the Art Gallery and he was commissioned to produce a nativity crib for the Cathedral in 1956. Wright was also a Gregory Fellow at Leeds University from 1961-64.

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