Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a haven for arty individuals seeking an expanse of strange sculptures, curious carvings and innovative (though often indescribably weird) installations. Or perhaps, like myself, you just want to see the poppies. Until the 10 January 2016, it’s home to Wave from Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red; the pretext of my visit.
Described as the UK’s leading open-air gallery, it lent itself well to a leisurely Sunday amble around the expansive grounds which include over a hundred sculptures – though I can’t claim that we made a serious dent in this number as the grounds were just so big.
En route to Wave, we bypassed Phillip King’s slightly obscure bronze cast, entitled Shogun. At this point, Bretton Hall came into view: a sprawling country manor house overlooking the Lower Lake and the centrepiece of the five-hundred-acre Bretton Estate. At this time of year, the park is filled with amber hues, falling leaves and a carpet of conkers.
Draped across Cascade Bridge is Wave, a section of the celebrated poppy installation, entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, displayed at the Tower of London in 2014. I was unable to see the installation in its entirety last year, so this was the perfect opportunity to view it before the sculptures – Wave and Weeping Window – are gifted to the Imperial War Museums. Poppies: Wave, by Paul Cummins, artist, and Tom Piper, designer, is arguably the current focal point of the park, drawing in clusters of people eager to see the installation in a new setting. From afar, the impact of the installation was impressive: a mass of bright red poppies tumbling over the bridge, their reflections creating intricate shadows on the surface of the lake.
After crossing Cascade Bridge, we followed the trail around the Upper Lake, taking in Shell Grotto (admittedly more of a small cave with some shells pressed into some of the rocks), the Boat House (which housed JocJonJosch’s Eddy) and the Greek Temple before concluding our walk in the Lower Park.
This began with Antony Gormley’s One and Other, which if you don’t look up you’ll miss as it’s poised on a tree trunk, some thirty metres above the ground. Galloping Horse by Julian Opie, was an exciting motion-picture depicting – as the name suggests – a horse galloping on a screen; it was certainly a novel alternative to the many strange metal contraptions on display.
Next to Camellia House, Sophie Ryder’s Sitting was a combination of a rabbit’s head and a human body making this one of the strangest sculptures of the trip. Nearby lies another of Ryder’s creations, Crawling.
Seated Figures, a sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz is nearby and is considered to be one of the highlights of the park – though we didn’t follow the guide, choosing instead to amble around and take in whatever came our way.