Yorkshire: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

“Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a pioneering place that aims to challenge, inspire, inform and delight, welcoming over 400,000 visitors, including 48,000 learning visits each year.

YSP seeks to provide a centre of international, national and regional importance for the production, exhibition and appreciation of modern and contemporary sculpture. Many inspirational elements combine here to create a unique and exceptional balance of art, heritage, learning, space and landscape.”

Excerpt from Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) was established in 1977 and from humble beginnings it has grown into a responsible, thriving attraction to showcase many an artist talents and passion, set in the 18th century-designed Bretton Estate.

Away from the busy information, learning and cafe areas, you can hardly believe where the crowds have gone too, absorbed by the 500 acres of land and trails for people to navigate. The trails range from accessible paths, tracks to trails only suitable for those with appropriate footwear and clothing but these mainly apply to paths on the outskirts of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, not the central areas. Mobility scooters are available which are advisable to ring and book in advance before you arrive.

As you wander around, keep your eyes peeled… monuments are everywhere! Some in plain sight, some cleverly hidden until you are almost upon them. Look up, look down, look all around. A lot of the sculptures are not surrounded by rope, so you are free to get up close, play near-by and even touch them, just not climb/sit on them – For those with disabilities or visual impairments this is a very inclusive and accessible location to explore man-made creations on a small and large-scale, something that many of us too easily take for granted.

There are plenty of opportunities to sit and take in the beautiful landscape, from bringing your own picnic blanket to sit on the many grassy areas throughout the park, as well as benches scattered around the lake and beyond. Why not bring your own lunch to sit and enjoy the surroundings? If you rather visit the cafe, there is a small one located to one of the car parks away from the main area, otherwise the large cafe located in the main information centre is for you. Located on the first floor, you have the option of sitting inside or outside on the balcony overlooking the vast grounds of the park (limited seating). The cafe works on a self-service basis except for hot food/drinks where you request what you would like and it will be done for you before placed upon your tray. Head to the till and you’re done. Like any tourist place, the prices are marked up so be aware. On the ground floor, there is also a small shop to buy snacks with a small picnic area outside.

As well as art work outdoors, there are indoor galleries and exhibitions at the Underground Gallery (located in the Information Centre) and the Chapel.

10.10.15 – 10.04.16
Underground Gallery and Chapel

This autumn, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) presents a significant exhibition by pioneering American video and installation artist, Bill Viola. Developed in collaboration with Viola, Kira Perov, Executive Director, Bill Viola Studio and Clare Lilley, Director of Programme, YSP, it is the most extensive exhibition in the UK by the artist for over 10 years. The immersive exhibition in YSP’s Chapel and Underground Gallery features installations from the last 20 years of Viola’s career and premieres a new work, The Trial.

Whatever time of the year you plan to visit, make sure to check out which artists current feature in the Galleries, as well as in the Open Air and any other events that are happening over the year through the YSP website.

The art installation ‘Poppies: Wave’ better known as a section from the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red‘ piece featured at the Tower of London in 2014 to commemorate 100 years since the start of World War One, is currently featured at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. To see my post and photos on this poignant art work, you can find it here.

One comment that dwells on the side of negative is that the cafes often sell promotional items related to artists/works featured at the park, as well as the normal selling of hot drinks, hot and cold food – However, purchases are made at the same point. For the self-serving cafe in the main information centre, this is not an issue, however for the smaller cafe which is not self-service and only one till this does present problems. At busy times, the cafe and staff have long lines – Those that are buying food and drinks, those that wish to buy a promotional item from the shelf or a combination of the two. Witnessed and experienced not just by myself, whatever column you fall into it is a long wait and I won’t blame the staff, but rather the design and structure of the cafe itself, it needs to be re-thought out and altered some how as it cannot cope with the numbers.

All in all, a great day was had and we didn’t even see everything – Another trip is in order! The works and artists are amazing, a creative learning journey for everyone young and old.

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