YSP Blog

Life in the Park, a blog from in and around the 500 acres of Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Find out what's happening in the Park on a regular basis with our blog, Life in the Park. Tell us what you see in the Park by emailing news and pictures to lydia.turnbull@ysp.co.uk

Luke Hart tells us about his residency at the Park

'After the exhibition, when I had finished packing the last of my studio and loading my truck with a variety of tools, sculptures, and all the various important papers of life, I handed the keys to the new owner of my now former east London workshop, and drove north out of London. With the loss of the shop I had become somewhat rootless and with a couple of weeks before I’m due to head to Mexico for a major project, somewhat aimless as well. Fortunately I had arranged months ago for a short residency period at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and the ever accommodating people there had managed to find some time, and space for me to come visit, even in the increasingly busy 40th anniversary year of the Park itself. 
I had previously visited and worked at the park in 2014, while in the midst of a project that resulted in Proving Ground, a film that I made in collaboration with Daniel Gower. At that time we were frantically searching the post industrial northern landscape for a suitable derelict building near a body of water, a site on which to build an experimental Semi-Floating Structure. I had also needed a sitte to test a prototype version of this system, and Helen Pheby suggested that I could work at the boathouse at the edge of the lake, where there was, and indeed still is, a concrete boat launch that would be ideal for my purposes. Even though we ended up installing the final work, and shooting the film, at Millennium Mills on London’s Royal Docks, the project would have completely stalled without the support of YSP at that moment.
This time the work that I had planned was perhaps slightly less ambitious, but I was in a position to be able to move my own work around, as the thought of lugging 20 or so steel and rubber joints, plus steel tubes with which to connect them, through the Country Park with only the sheep to help me would have been somewhat daunting. The only barrier to my driving however, was the ongoing demolition work around Bretton Hall, but it really continues to amaze me how much one can get away with while wearing a hi-vis vest and a hard hat. The proposition is simple: I have a number of flexible bonded Polyurethane Rubber Joints, I have a bare room, and I have a number of identical 100mm diameter steel tubes, at 400mm with matching flanges to the joints; I’m going to configure a simple structural intervention in the space. I’ve made a number of these configurations bending the rubber into various contortions, and while this isn’t the most daring structural experiment that I’ve undertaken in this manner, the process remains a thoroughly enjoyable experience and experiment in weight, balance, arc, and flexibility.
Beyond just working though, spending time at YSP is about spending time with the work, with the landscape, and with the people here. It is a pleasure to see the work of such good friends as Alex Chinneck, James Capper, and Joc Marchington, Jon Brantschen, and Joschi Herczeg (JocJonJosch) as well as to spend time with the work of personal heroes, like Anthony Caro, Sol Lewitt, James Turrell, Barbara Hepworth, and Henry Moore and his ubiquitous equine sculptural accompaniment, and to discover new work in the ever rotating collection of works in the park. This is really something special about YSP, where Nobby and Cullen and the crew don’t shy away from moving all kinds of big, heavy, and sometime ridiculous, works of sculpture into whatever position is required, meaning that almost no-one who visits the park will ever have quite the same sculptural experience as anyone else. Just choosing a direction and wandering can provide a hidden revelation or a new sculptural work, or even just a new angle on a familiar aspect of the grounds. This is true while the park is empty, or in the privileged time after closing to the public and before the sun sets when some of the work and the sky can seem to glow in unison. 
Sculpture in whatever manner one wishes to define it, is a trickier business than many art production methodologies. It simply requires more space, equipment, and materials (and sometimes money) than our sometimes-envied colleagues. This isn’t an easily solved problem given the mounting difficulties of maintaining a studio in the traditional urban centers of art practition, and we’ll all continue to adapt as spaces and practices change, and as markets, and styles move around the world, but those of us committed to doing something interesting with the pure stuff of the world, will continue to do so. We’ll do it in the unwanted space of the built and urban environment, and we’ll keep finding places outside of what we’ve been told is the institutional home for Art, much like Peter Murray did 40 years ago when he initiated this experiment in the re-use of the grounds once held only for the aristocracy. I’m on my way to Mexico to begin some work with a colleague doing something similar, and I’m happy to know that Yorkshire Sculpture Park, is back in that beautiful corner of England (God’s own country, right?) and that somebody is moving large pieces of metal and stone around.'
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YSP Senior Curator, Helen Pheby visits The Contemporary Austin

72 hours in Austin Texas is not nearly enough time to make the most of this amazing city, but thanks to the brilliant hospitality and planning of The Contemporary Austin we managed an action-packed itinerary as part of YSP's continued aims to share and learn best practice. With Elisabeth Millqvist, the Co-Director of our ELAN partner Wanås in Sweden, we spent time at The Contemporary Austin's inspiring two sites Laguna Gloria and the Jones Center, their downtown gallery. Laguna Gloria is a sculpture park on the edge of a beautiful lake with excellent sculptures by artists including Tom Friedman, Paul McCarthy, Nancy Holt, Liam Gillick and a new commission by Terry Allen of a bronze cast of the, car he owned as young man with stories and music about road trips. They also have an innovative public programme including row-in movies from the lakeside. Following really useful conversations with the Museum team ranging from programme planning to how to keep sculptures clean and best approaches to signage, I took part in a talk and discussion with Elisabeth, chaired by Andrea Mellard, The Director of Public Programs and Community for the Contemporary Austin.
Our second day started with a walking meeting along part of the Waller Creek, which runs through the city and over the next few years will be developed in a walking, cycling and art route – which will no doubt become a much loved and used green heart to the city. We then visited an exquisite private collection of contemporary art and had a special preview of the rehang in the great Blanton Museum of Art (affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin), including Cildo Meireles' important work How to Build Cathedrals (1987). We had a tour of The University’s Warfield Center Christian-Green Gallery and a fascinating exhibition into the life and work of human rights campaigner John Lewis (nothing to do with the shop...). We joined a reception for artist Ann Hamilton and the launch of her Landmarks commission ONEEVERYONE with the University’s Dell Medical School – a poignant body of ethereal portraits of people living in Austin. The artist gave great insight into her work during a conversation with the art critic Nancy Princenthal, including her beautiful installation at Wanås. We attended a dinner with Austin patrons in the evening, all genuine enthusiasts for art, artists and the affect it can have on lives, such as the brilliant installation on the roof of Contemporary Austin's downtown gallery by Jim Hodges. Writ large and shiny, words from the pledge of allegiance With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress) shines like a beacon of hope and underscores the open and creative spirit of this great city. I'm really grateful to Louis Grachos, the Director of Contemporary Austin, and all of the team there especially Andrea and Stephanie and to their patrons for sharing their superb space, art and city with such generosity and thoughtfulness.  
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