June 11, 2005


A great session was had by all last weekend at Partly Writing 4 (www.partlywriting.com) – hosted by the Text Festival at Bury Museum. The website will be expanded over the next few weeks with contributions arising out of the weekend’s deliberations. So I’ll not say much more about it here.

Also this week I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s been a while since I visited the Park; though I had seen the new visitor centre I had not seen the recently completed Underground Gallery. Cutting to the conclusions of my visit, I think it is obvious that the focus on the development of buildings and the poison chalice of the Arts Council’s Sculpture Collection have badly distracted the Curators. The Arts Council’s lower priority for art as against Government sponsored Access seems to have had the (probably unplanned or even noticed) effect of dumbing down the placement and any artistic rigour of the works in the park. I didn’t bother noting the artist’s name because the work was so banal but a large area of the grounds have been given over to large ‘found stone blocks’ surface carved with animal decoration – good for school parties to sit around and copy. The Henry Moore’s looked increasingly tired in this environment. Some Barbara Heyworth’s seem to have been left behind after the great retrospective last year, but just reinforce the feeling that curatorially no-one seems to be thinking about how the grounds work. The new Underground Gallery turns out to be a fine space and features currently a large retrospective of William Turnbull in a strange ahistorical hang. I wasn’t previously very interested in Turnbull and the exhibition didn’t change that. The overall impression of the YSP is that it is a faded local authority park that the curators have left and it is now a tired playground for schools. Sadly I couldn’t find the Rückriem sculpture on loan somewhere in the gardens, so the only ‘visible’ contemporary work was by the brilliant text artist Shaun Pickard. Tellingly, his neon text has been dismally relocated from its striking location in the trees beside the visitor centre to the trough of a drainage ditch under a metal grill in the Orangery! Probably the biggest artistic outrage in the Park. There are 2 permanently (and properly) displayed Pickard’s at Bury Art Gallery and his one-man show as part of the Festival opens on 6 August.

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