Standing looking at the rolling hills in front of you, the hint of a lake in the distance and sheep nibbling away nearby, you could be anywhere in this beautiful country of ours. Then your eye is drawn to a huge, curvy construction slap bang in the middle of it all. I’m no art buff but I know a Henry Moore sculpture when I see one. That’s when you know you’re in a one of a kind place, not just in the country but in the world.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the Bretton Estate just outside of Wakefield is a special place indeed. Ever since it opened in 1977, it has become the place to discover sculpture, art and beautiful countryside. Set in 500 acres of lush green fields, there is a new surprise around every corner. Art works are the main reason for coming with stunning pieces by the likes of Moore and local hero Barbara Hepworth available for scrutiny, up close and personal.
Walking through the grounds, by the lake or through the woods, is a treat in itself. They are perfectly kept by what must be an army of grounds staff as well as the previously mentioned sheep. The latter may do a good job keeping the grass down but watch your step, they definitely leave more than a few markers where they have been.
In the chapel to the left is an awe inspiring piece by Chiharu Shiota called Beyond Time. An endless supply of string exploding out of the corpse of an old piano and sending music into the air. You can stand amongst this wonder or go upstairs to view from above.
The other major exhibition on at the moment is by Guiseppe Penone named A Tree in the Wood and fills the Underground Gallery as well as dotted around the grounds. Penone works with bronze and stone as well as wood to explore the beauty of woodland.
As we walked along the lake, many different pieces appear. My favourite was Wilsis by Jaume Plensa, a huge female head on the shore, staring out over the weeping willows up to the hall. It is beautiful up close as well as from the other side of the water.
There is so much to explore that we spent a good four hours looking around and I don’t think we found everything that the park has to offer. The picnic area is well worth bringing some lunch for, sitting looking down to the lake with little rabbits grazing nearby, that was until some fool let their terrier off the lead. Come on people, dogs are welcome but they have to be behave.
The other moan that I have seen online is the parking price. OK at £11 it is expensive but that is the only cost, no admission fee. To be treated to so much art and beauty, it’s not that expensive.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of those brilliant venues that have so much going on they ensure visitors will come back time and again, there are tons for the little ones to get involved in as well as artist talks and mindfulness walks.
Even if it rains, which it did towards the end, there is plenty to do under cover including the inside galleries and a bizarre if fascinating piece by artist Roger Hiorns known as Seizure, where he transformed a bedsit from London into a crystal cave by pouring 75000 litres of copper sulphate solution inside. The flat has been transported to Yorkshire for our pleasure.
I can’t recommend this special place enough and I will definitely be back.