Yorkshire Sculpture Park: Part One

On a recent visit to South Yorkshire for family reasons I took time out to visit the YSP near Wakefield. I vaguely remember Bretton Hall as a teacher training college from my teenage years living in Wakefield. Today the park hosts exhibitions both indoors and outdoors as well as permanent sculptures in the grounds.

Anthony Caro “Promenade”

The way one views sculptures, as with many forms of art, is highly subjective. Some I loved, others puzzled me, but the setting is great and if nothing else you get a good workout walking around the different parts of the park.

Outspan by Tony Cragg

Tony Cragg an artist who is now based in Germany has produced many bodies of work and examples here are from Early Forms (based on different vessels such as test tubes, jars, conical flasks) and Rational Beings (based on drawings of people). The sculptures are designed to be viewed differently from various angles and change depending on the perspective of the viewer.

Fruit trees and benches in the Bothy Gardens

Tread Softly is an Arts Council Collection National Partner exhibition exploring the realities of childhood, developing identity and family relationships.  I was particularly taken by an old gymnastic vault, which took me back to my grammar school days and a particularly strict P.E. teacher.

I also liked Barbara Hepworth’s Family of Man placed on a hillside, though being roped off rather spoiled the effect.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of a real family enjoying a picnic lunch nearby.

Michael Lyons “Heights of David”

Another of my personal favourites is Buddha  by Niki de Sant Phalle, made all the more interesting by the addition of a chap on a ladder taking photographs of the giant sculpture (header)

Decorating a hillside in the Country Park section are several bronzes of Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure series that he began in the 1950s, and returned back to again and again throughout his life.

Henry Moore: Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 1

I enjoyed the patina of the bronzes; the sheep enjoyed the shade.

Draped Seated Lady

Moore’s preference of the reclining figure over a standing or sitting figure that is usually the subject of artists is down to its strong, yet relaxed posture. He explains that “it is free and stable at the same time. It fits in with my belief that sculpture should be permanent, should last for eternity.”

Henry Moore: Large Two Forms

Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree is a delightful replica of the ancient yew trees found in the Chapel grounds.

and his Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads is very interesting and has been on a world-wide tour since 2011. For the duration of their exhibition in Chicago all the heads were hooded, to remind people that the artist himself was still confined to China after being arrested for ‘economic crimes’. In 2016 he was granted permission to travel to Prague and see the sculptures for the first time.

Circle of Animals

Apart from the sculptures, the park is a very pleasant place to stroll around with walks around the lake, split into two by the Cascade Bridge which is where we will begin part two.


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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

47 thoughts on “Yorkshire Sculpture Park: Part One”

  1. Hiya darlin! Sorry I’m a bit late here. Out of nowhere we had a glorious day so we’ve been riverside walking from Ruswarp to Whitby and back. You know I don’t like staying home. 🙂 🙂 So nice to revisit the park with you, Jude, and the exhibits are pretty much different to those I saw. I do like Henry Moore though, and those heads look interesting too. It’d be lovely for an Autumn stroll but that’s what I told myself last time and it poured. 😦
    Hope you’re feeling a bit more lively today, and knee deep in hugs. 🙂 Thanks a lot for the link.

    1. You’ll have to try again when next visiting the family in Leeds. Riverside walking eh? I didn’t know you could walk along a river to Whitby. Guessing this might be next week’s walk?

      1. I did think we might. James is off to Lisbon on a stag do this weekend and after that we start to run out of time before we go. Checked Ryanair flight cancellations and none of us are affected. Phew! 🙂 🙂 From Ruswarp, which is a lovely little spot just a mile inland on the Esk. I think I’ve featured it before, so probably not.

        1. OMG. If Lisbon is starting to attract the stags and hens there won’t be anywhere left that is untarnished. (Mind slightly boggling at thoughts of vomit on cobbles)

  2. What a place to wander. I’m always a fan of Henry Moore, and you gave me more insight into his thinking. I came across a sculpture similar to the draped woman in Melbourne and spent a bit of pleasant time with her,chatting about things women chat about. I thought ladder man was part of the sculpture – definitely possible. Thanks for a lovely stroll.

    1. The Henry Moore sculptures were lovely, scattered across the hill as they are, even though it took a bot of huffing and puffing to get to them all. I love the patina on the bronze, which is why I love Barbara Hepworth’s work too. So tangible.

    1. I’m not sure how long it has been open, but I knew there were some Hepworth sculptures there from my visit to her garden and studio in St Ives.

  3. Wow, Jude. This outdoor sculpture garden reminds me so much of the one I visited in Hakone, Japan. Some of Moore’s sculptures were there as well, and seem similar to the ones you have pictured. I love that group by Tony Cragg, that Buddha, and the Iron Tree. I also love how the sheep are wandering around the park. Wonderful all around! 🙂

  4. What a wonderful way to enjoy sculpture; one has the room to step back and appreciate the immensity of some of these works, which unfortunately is lost in closed spaces. Henry Moore, Ai Wei Wei & Niki de Sant Phalle are some of my favourite sculptures and I so appreciate the opportunity to see them in this light.

    1. Thanks for popping in PP – I am glad you enjoyed the sculpture park. It is a fabulous big space and the sculptures are well spread around so you can absorb each one without interference.

  5. One of my favourite places! Really great images – you’ve captured it spot on 😊

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