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Yorkshire Sculpture Park
2008-08-27

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an extraordinary place that sets out to challenge, inspire, inform and delight. Within 500 acres of 18th century parkland, it is an international centre for modern and contemporary art, experienced by thousands of visitors each year, including students and members of the public of all ages and abilities who are engaged in the YSP education and community programme.



Location
The park is located in West Bretton, Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, England. Opening times are seasonal but typically the grounds are open 10:00–17:00 with indoor galleries open 11:00–15:00 during exhibitions (full details are available on the website). A pay-and-display car park is available.


Founding and Funding
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) was founded in 1977 by the current Director Peter Murray. It is a charity and registered museum, although its own collection is a very small part of the works on display and does not have an active acquisition policy. Most works on display are on loan from private or public collections. YSP receives funding from a wide variety of sources. These include public funding for running costs - largely from Arts Council England, but also from Wakefield council; corporate and charitable sponsors and a number of individual donors. Its recent capital developments (including a new visitor centre and gallery complexes in the Bothy garden and at Longside) received Arts Council, Lottery and European funding.


Exhibits

Examples of Barbara Hepworth sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
YSP is conceived on the model of a 'gallery without walls' - that means it has a changing (albeit not always very regularly) exhibition programme, rather than permanent display as seen in other UK sculpture parks such as Grizedale Forest and Goodwood Sculpture Park. It was the UK's first sculpture park - although it was based on the temporary open air exhibitions organised in London parks from the 1940s to 1970s by the Arts Council and London County Council (and later Greater London Council).

Since the 1990s YSP has also made use of a variety of indoor exhibition spaces, initially a Bothy Gallery (in the curved Bothy Wall) and a temporary tent-like structure called the Pavilion Gallery. More recently - following an extensive refurbishment and expansion - YSP has added a major underground gallery space in the Bothy garden, and exhibition spaces at Longside (the hillside facing the original park). Its programme consists of contemporary and Modern sculpture (from Rodin and Bourdelle through to younger living artists). British sculpture is particularly well represented in the past exhibition programme and semi-permanent displays. Many of the British sculptors famous in the 1950s and 1960s, but later forgotten, have been the subject of solo exhibitions at YSP including Lynn Chadwick, Austin Wright, Philip King, Eduardo Paolozzi, Kenneth Armitage. Exhibitions tend to be monographic - rather than group or thematic.


The site

A natural context
The stunning landscape was designed over 200 years ago as a private pleasure ground. Much thought was given to the planting of thousands of imported exotic trees, to the modelling of hills and valleys, and the use of water and architectural features. Split up in the late 1940s, the estate has, in recent years, been brought together by YSP, providing open access and an integrated landscape management plan.

For the last 30 years, we have used the landscape, vistas and other features to site a range of fascinating exhibitions, commissions and installations. They also take care to preserve the spirit of the design of the historic landscape while restoring and protecting the estate for the public and for future generations. Managing the estate is a massive task which includes working with farmers, foresters, gardeners and artists. The installation of exhibitions in the open air requires special skills, as does the restoration of planting schemes and drystone walling.

Feilden Clegg Bradley have skilfully created exquisite architecture, which sits sensitively within the landscape. The new Underground Gallery, cut into the hillside of the Bothy Garden, provides three galleries which are ideal for the display of sculpture.

Beyond the gardens and Underground Gallery are rolling fields, lakes and broad countryside: all are changed dramatically by passing time and seasons. Brooding skies; bright, frosty mornings; languid summer afternoons; smoky autumn mists - each evokes different sensory experiences of landscape and art. The Underground Gallery builds on these unique surroundings for art: a context that challenges and inspires our visitors and every artist that works with YSP.

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