Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Little boxes

Does anyone remember that song: 'Little boxes'? It was recorded by Pete Seeger in 1963 - and I can still sing it! So that does age me, but it is one of those tunes that really sticks in your head. 'Little boxes on a hillside.. and they're all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same'. Well, Saltaire's little houses may fit the description up to a point, but anyone who has carefully toured the village will know that in fact they are not 'all just the same'. There are big ones and small ones, two storeys, three storeys, some with rounded windows, some with square, some with gardens, some without. But still, a pleasing sense of harmony overall.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Dancing in the street

Well, dancing on the promenade in Roberts Park, anyway. You never know what you'll find in the park; there is usually something happening at weekends during the summer months. A couple of Sundays ago, I came across our local morris dance side, Rainbow Morris, sharing the afternoon with an Appalachian dance group.  There were lots of spectators enjoying the sunshine and Sir Titus Salt appeared to be enjoying the proceedings too.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Chicken of the woods

Yorkshire Sculpture Park  It's not always easy to decide what is art and what isn't. Just wandering around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park so attunes one's mind to sculptural forms that you start to notice the shapes in nature too. I know very little about fungus but googling the various pictures and sites, this appears most similar to one called 'Chicken of the Woods' (Laetiporous sulphureus), which is supposed to be edible. I wouldn't try it, not based on my identification anyway!

Saturday, 30 August 2014


Yorkshire Sculpture Park    Another major exhibition currently at YSP features works by the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, shown in and around the 18th century chapel where the Wentworth family once worshipped. 'Iron Tree, 2013' (above), the most complex of a series he began in 2009, is inspired by the wood sold by street vendors in Jingdezhen, southern China. Constructed from pieces cast from different trees all joined together, it is awkward and lifeless but eloquent because of that. It speaks of the individual in society, a theme amplified by the display inside the chapel (which you aren't allowed to photograph) which consists of forty-five antique wooden chairs from the Qing dynasty, arranged in rows but each within its own solitary space. I found that oddly touching, the longer I gazed and thought. The artist is currently not allowed to travel out of China due to passport restrictions and surveillance.

Friday, 29 August 2014


Yorkshire Sculpture Park - Sculptural forms that from a distance looked like ghostly hay bales, on closer inspection turned out to be art works made from wire mesh. 'Summer Fields' is an installation by Helen Escobedo (1934 -2010), a Mexican artist. The more I looked at them floating ethereally in the landscape, the more I liked them.

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Yorkshire Sculpture Park  The amazing range of sculpture on display is a large part of the joy at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) but the setting is wonderful too. The landscaped grounds belong to Bretton Hall, at one time the home of the Wentworth family and later a teacher training college and part of the University of Leeds. The parkland also holds the Bretton Country Park, with acres of grassland, woods, streams and lakes to explore.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Yorkshire Sculpture Park  This is another easy one to guess.. one of the permanent collection of Henry Moore sculptures at YSP. I can think of no better place to show these huge bronzes than a rolling hillside among the trees and grazing sheep. Henry Moore was born in nearby Castleford and often cited the influence of the West Yorkshire landscape on his development as a young artist. This piece is called 'Two Large Forms'. (Moore was particularly imaginative in his titles!)  Not, I think, entirely influenced by the landscape...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


Yorkshire Sculpture Park  Yesterday's artist was easy to guess ...but what about today's? This piece is called 'Roman Standard'. It features a delicate blackbird perched on a 4 metre high pole and is intended as a contrast to the eagle-topped standards traditionally carried into battle by Roman army to symbolise power.  Would you have guessed Tracey Emin? I didn't.

Monday, 25 August 2014


Yorkshire Sculpture Park  No prizes for guessing the creator of this piece at YSP. It's 'One and Other' by Anthony Gormley. He is most famous for 'The Angel of the North' which sits beside the motorway near Gateshead, but he has also created lots of these bronze figures. There is a well-known installation of figures on the beach at Cosby, Merseyside (which I keep meaning to go and see and never have) and he also exhibited some on buildings in London. (Some people phoned the police, thinking they were real people about to jump!)

Sunday, 24 August 2014


Yorkshire Sculpture Park  These majestic sculptures are the work of Ursula Von Rydingsvard, an American artist who has been producing work for the open air since the late 1970s. This is her first large exhibition in Europe and consists of these huge outdoor pieces, plus some equally impressive pieces in the Gallery and a number of smaller works, sketches and memorabilia. Most of her work is made from cedar wood beams 4" square that are cut, meticulously assembled, shaped and coloured. The work - 'Bronze Bowl with Lace' - with the filigree top (photo lower left and also yesterday) is a 6m high bronze cast from a cedar wood piece, made especially for this exhibition. I really liked them all, they looked as if they were growing.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Museum of the Year 2014

Guess where I've been today? Yes, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), at West Bretton near Wakefield. It has recently been named 'Museum of the Year' by the Art Fund. I feel so lucky to live within easy travelling distance of this wonderful place. It is a magnificent landscape to enjoy and discovering all the amazing pieces of sculpture dotted around the place makes for a great day out.

There are several photos to come from this latest trip, but please also click the YSP label below to see a previous visit.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Salts Mill at home

A friend brought me some lilies the other day. They are heavily scented, so that now the whole house smells fragrant - just like Salts Mill. (They always have huge vases full of lilies in the 1853 Gallery in the mill. You can even smell them outside when you're walking past!)  The only snag with lilies is the pollen, which stains everything. I generally cut the stamens off when the buds open.

They looked so lovely in the early morning light that I spent a few minutes photographing them before leaving for work. It was a quick snap and an even quicker processing operation on my iPhone apps, but I like the result.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Between the mills

Another quick canter along the canal towpath to stretch my legs during my lunch break... It's always pleasant and some days I just want to carry on walking... blue sky, fluffy clouds, sunshine, not many people about - perfect.  This is a classic view of Saltaire, one I've photographed many times before but I never tire of it. The boat moored in the Visitor moorings was a little cabin cruiser. You don't often see them on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Most of the boats are traditional narrowboats.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Railings of Remembrance

I nipped up into Shipley town centre in my lunch break and noticed this new artwork on the railings outside Shipley Baptist Church. Entitled 'Railings of Remembrance' (perhaps with an intentional double-meaning?) and created by local artist Katie Jones, it commemorates people with a link to the church who played a part in the First World War. Some are listed on memorial plaques within the church, some are family members of the present congregation. It invites us to read the names and brief details and to remember them. A simple idea but a nice one, in this centenary year of the start of the (not so) Great War.