It must be sixteen years since I last visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton near Wakefield. Wow! How much it has changed! Thankfully, entrance is still free - you just have to pay a fiver to park your car. Shirley and I wandered around for three hours but could have easily stayed longer. The grounds - once the rambling country estate of historic Bretton Hall - are themselves extensive and well-worth exploring.
There are permanent seminal works by Yorkshire sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth - set in the context of rolling meadows where they are fully exposed to the elements. These abstract and monumental pieces seem to somehow sing of the aspirations and the modernity of the nineteen sixties while still being rooted very much in the natural world. I appreciate them more than I used to.
I love just about everything that Antony Gormley has ever done in the name of Art - from "The Angel of the North" to "The Field for Britain" and the "Iron Men" on Formby Sands near Liverpool. At Bretton one of his iron men stands like a sentinel atop a tall dead tree trunk. Gormley calls this work "One and Other".
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park houses various temporary exhibitions and currently it is home to some fantastic three dimensional work by the Spanish artist - Jaume Plensa. There are huge outdoor pieces and breathtaking indoor exhibitions. Plensa likes to play with language, light and sound, as well as a range of physical materials - seeking to convey something of the wonder of being to his open-mouthed visitors. We were mightily impressed. His welcome presence at the sculpture park has been extended to January 22nd 2012.
As most people know, Yorkshire is the true world centre of arts, crafts and culture. If it's within shouting distance for you and yours, I would thoroughly recommend a day trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but look out for a bright day so that you enjoy effective illumination and take some good walking shoes and perhaps a picnic. Now to Jaume Plensa:-
And finally, here's a dead tree I spotted near the car park - an accidental sculpture in itself:-