Monthly Archives: October 2015

Exhibition Visit – Henry Moore Institute

The exhibition of Henry Moore maquettes were very interesting. Whilst I am quite familiar with some of his larger figure sculptures, I particularly liked his small maquettes, especially his work incorporating background walls with squares cut out which I hadn’t seen before.

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‘Three Motives against Wall No.1’, 1958 & ‘Maquette for Girl Seated against Square Wall’, 1957

I may steal this idea in a future work!

An exhibition of Paul Neagu was on when I went and this was also interesting, although a lot of the work looked dated. What interested me was that he continually explored a number of themes/subjects over many years, resulting in many different versions and developing the work into weird and wonderful things which have come a long way from their origins. I am doing this myself in continuing my ‘residencies’ work and might extend this to other ideas.

Unfortunately no photography was allowed in this exhibition, but ‘White Cardinal’ was the object which particularly stuck me, a sculptural scene in a suitcase, with the sketch on one side and a maquette of the sculpture in landscaped surroundings in the other – a very effective and unusual display method.

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Exhibition Visit – British Art Show 8

A collection of work by 42 current British artists using wide ranging mediums should have given a lot of options to excite and inspire me, but resulted in an exhibition which I found thoroughly underwhelming.

Although I only dipped into the films, these mostly did look interesting, beautifully shot and pared very well with very intense soundtracks, which were often aimed at distorting reality. However, the other work seemed dull and pointless. A few examples below:

Anthea Hamilton’s plastic covered billboard type images with a built in ant farm – what? There was no evidence of craftsmanship in these pieces and as far as I could tell, it didn’t mean anything either.

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Nicolas Deshayes sprayed expanding foam to look like intestines – why? They looked like someone had randomly sprayed expanding foam, presumably exactly what he did to produce them. I guess I rebel against this type of work for two reasons, firstly the initial impression it gives is one which is slightly revolting (similar to if he has used actual intestines), secondly, the lack of physical moulding/sculpting/craftsmanship. I’m sure that to get this simple shape he probably had to practice different ways of spraying expanding foam until he achieved what he wanted, but there is a lack of involvement in the work (letting it form itself) which I find lazy. Maybe I feel that if the artist can’t be bothered to get stuck into the creation of a sculpture, why should I be bothered to view it?

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Jessica Warboys image was a similar theme, this time using natural phenomena to produce her work. She used pigment on sea-soaked canvas and allowed the waves and wind to determine the resulting image. This was an interesting idea, but the photograph actually makes it look better than it was and overall it just looked a little drab.

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If you hold the opinion that ‘modern art is all rubbish’, then this exhibition will do nothing to change your views. Overall, nothing really grabbed me in this exhibition and it was quite disappointing. There seemed to be a lack of imagination as well as a lack of skill/talent in its production. The best bit for me was overhearing a question to one of the staff there “Is this art, or is it just tissues?” – The reply was that it was art, but I could understand why it was questioned!

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Project: Site selection, context and form of the work

Option 1: Threshfield Quarry

Quarry

This is an industrial landscape in an urban setting in the Yorkshire Dales. It used to be quarried for limestone, initially used by being burnt to provide lime for dressing fields and for mortar, cements and plaster. More latterly the stone was used for the construction industry. It was worked for over 100 years until 2000. Recently it was fully closed and restoration is now underway, with plans to develop a heritage trail, car park, information centre and business units.

There are a number of potential sculpture locations around the site.

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The lime kiln area

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Vehicle washing area

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Gorge entrance

Of these, the location with the most potential seems to be the gorge entrance track.

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The bare site seems to offer a blank canvas to play with. The site appeals to me as it has the evidence of previous industry with rusting metal and ruined buildings. Decay often seems to offer much more interest to me in terms of shapes and textures. The vegetation has taken hold in some areas which makes exploring the site seem like uncovering archaeology. There is also a desolate feel about the site, sadness about an industry now gone and a busy place returning to silence.

Option 2: Skipton

Previously known as ‘Sheep Town’ and ‘Sheepton’ before becoming ‘Skipton’, the market town has a long history as market for sheep and woollen goods.

It has one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in England. During the Civil War, this castle was the last Royalist stronghold in the North, until its surrender in 1645 after a three-year siege.

The Leeds-Liverpool canal runs through it and textile mills were situated there during the industrial revolution as well as deliveries from sandstone and limestone quarries.

Now known as “Capital of Craven” and the “Gateway to the Dales” and its main business is from tourism.

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A number of possible sculptures were explored.

A new canal bridge

Canal Basin

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This was an interesting idea to pursue, but in reality such a bridge would be too visually intrusive in such a historic area and would not fit in well with the surroundings.

Skipton castle

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Smaller sites

Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a single area which would suit a large public sculpture (which isn’t already occupied). There are however a lot of smaller sites which would seem to offer the potential to link together with a sculpture trail. These sculptures would need to be linked together in some way. The ‘sheep’ connection has been explored already with various sheep decorated by artists as part of the local art event ‘Art in the Pen’ a few years back, of which one remains in the town.

Sheep

The canal offers quite a number of sites, so a connection could be made there.

Canal side 1 Canal side 2 Near canal bridge

The idea which most appealed to me though, was the link which could be made through the towns proclaimed status as the ‘Gateway to the Dales’.

This could be celebrated through sculptures of map tiles depicting locations in the Dales, with a starting point of a map tile of Skipton. Other locations might include:

  • The local ‘honeypot’ villages of Malham and Grassington
  • The Yorkshire three peaks
  • The Settle-Carlisle railway / Ribblehead viaduct
  • Malham cove
  • Caves (stump cross caverns / White scar caves / etc.)
  • The Pennine Way / Pennine Bridleway / Dales Way
  • Asygarth falls

A sketch of the Skipton tile:

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References:

Destinationskipton.com, (2015). History : Destination Skipton. [online] Available at: http://www.destinationskipton.com/index.php/history/ [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].

Facebook.com, (2015). Threshfield Quarry. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/threshfieldquarry [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].

Skiptoncastle.co.uk, (2015). Skipton Castle, Superbly Preserved Medieval Castle, Yorkshire. [online] Available at: http://www.skiptoncastle.co.uk/index.asp?page=1 [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].

Uwhg.org.uk, (2015). The History of Threshfield Quarry. [online] Available at: http://www.uwhg.org.uk/reports/displays/tq_display/history/history.html [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].

Welcometoskipton.com, (2015). Welcome to Skipton | A Brief History of Skipton. [online] Available at: http://www.welcometoskipton.com/item/A-Little-History-of-Skipton [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].

Ydlrt.co.uk, (2015). Threshfield Quarry Project main page. [online] Available at: http://ydlrt.co.uk/tfield_quarry/tfield_quarry.html [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].

Option Chosen

I’m quite taken by both the Threshfield quarry gorge entrance site and also the idea of a sculpture trail around Skipton.

I may work on both of these for a while before deciding which one to finally go with.

The Threshfield quarry option would fall under the category of commemoration in referencing the historic industrial origins of the site and its return to nature, as well as being an aesthetic enhancement of the space.

The Skipton option celebrates the towns’ current connections, not historical events, so I guess this just falls within the aesthetic enhancement of a public space category. However, the development of a sculpture trail would presumably then put it in the category of facilitating social interaction from the viewers as they tour around the locations?

As a location for the starting ‘Skipton’ map tile, I think that the bus station is the best central location for this sculpture.

Bus station 1

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