Your chance to share memories of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Jaume Plensa, Wilsis (2016) Photo  Jonty Wilde. Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture ParkJaume Plensa, Wilsis (2016) Photo  Jonty Wilde. Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Jaume Plensa, Wilsis (2016) Photo Jonty Wilde. Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park
It has now been two months since YSP closed its gates, to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

YSP is a very special place to many people in Wakefield and beyond, and as this difficult time passes, we look forward to being able to welcome you back again when it is safe to do so.

We are busy planning a controlled, phased reopening, which places great emphasis on the health and safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers.

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While the gates remain closed, a core team are planning for the future, continuing to care for the Park, and keeping in touch with our supporters. We are also using this time for reflection and gratitude, with the team recalling some fantastic moments.

Founding Director Peter Murray has been delving into the YSP archive, shining a light on his memories of the last 40 years of YSP, taking inspiration from the connected worlds of poetry and sculpture.

Here he reflects on a poignant exhibition from the early '90's: "In 1992 Clare Lilley and I organised a Barry Flanagan exhibition and Clare telephoned the Irish poet, playwright and translator Seamus Heaney to ask if, for the publication, we could use his poem The Names of the Hare, which is a 13th century poem he had translated from Middle English.⁠

The poem is said to be a ritual to be recited by a hunter on his first encounter with a hare, and the 77 different names given to the hare in the poem were supposed, on recital, to deliver it to the hunter’s power.⁠

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"He loved the idea. I hope you enjoy the words and images from these two wonderful artists who had a strong affection for Yorkshire Sculpture Park.⁠"

You can view the poem and associated images here.

Fast forwarding to almost two decades later in 2011 – Director of Programme Clare Lilley recalls a favourite of many of YSP's visitors – a major exhibition of work by Jaume Plensa.

The exhibition was vast – filling the Underground Gallery and surrounding gardens with an extraordinary body of work, encouraging tactile and sensory exploration.

It included a 50-metre curtain of poetry made of suspended steel letters, large illuminated sculptures in the landscape, and engraved gongs that visitors could strike to fill the gallery with sound.

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"Oriented on north-south and east-west trajectories, the project was an exceptional physical, emotional and psychological journey that many visitors continue to hold deep in their memories.

For those with faith, for those without, and for all those in between, Plensa offers gifts – he would call them 'messages in a bottle' – that give a sense of the best versions of ourselves, of human possibility and potential, of open doors to states of being.

His sculptures allow us to breathe more easily, love more deeply."

If you have a memory of YSP that you would like to share, you can post it on social media using the hashtag #YSPMemory and the team will see it. We very much looking forward to welcoming staff, visitors and volunteers back to the Park to create many more.

Stay safe and well.

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