Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is a leading centre for modern and contemporary sculpture, where art and nature come together in 500 acres of stunning historic parkland. Explore changing displays of over 80 sculptures by internationally renowned artists, alongside an exciting array of exhibitions presented in six indoor galleries, and a thriving visiting artist programme. Celebrating the idea of art without walls, YSP is a vibrant and welcoming environment for everyone.

Art Unlocked is an online talk series by Art UK in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies. This Curation is based on a talk by Sarah Coulson, Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, on 8th September 2021. You can find a recording at https://youtu.be/DdHbrZC1M2Y

6 artworks
  • Since 1974, James Turrell has been creating Skyspaces; works comprising a chamber containing seating, lighting and an aperture in the ceiling through which to view the sky.
    In 1993 Turrell stayed at YSP’s Archway Lodge whilst working on a commission for the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust Studio. He became fascinated by an 18th century deer shelter in what was once the estate’s Deer Park. He drew plans for a Skyspace within the structure, but the project was not realised until over a decade later.
    The Deer Shelter Skyspace is a place of contemplation and revelation, harnessing the changing light of the Yorkshire sky. It allows us time to sit and think; an open invitation to access a peacefulness often denied in our busy lives.

    Deer Shelter Skyspace 2006
    James Turrell (b.1943)
    Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    Deer Shelter Skyspace
    © the artist, courtesy of YSP. Image credit: Jonty Wilde, courtesy of YSP

  • In Hanging Trees, Andy Goldsworthy explores issues around boundaries and ownership. He became interested in ha-has – sunken boundary walls created to avoid interrupting far-reaching views.

    Hanging Trees was created in dilapidated sections of a freestanding ha-ha. It comprises three rectangular chambers, like sarcophagi, several feet deep and each containing the fallen trunk of an oak tree, suspended horizontally and embedded into the drystone walls. These deep pits seem to offer a view into the land, both physically and metaphorically, exposing layers of history. There is an ambiguity to these buried trees - on one hand they seem energetic and writhing, on the other they seem to have been laid to rest.

    Hanging Trees 2007
    Andy Goldsworthy (b.1956)
    Stone & oak tree trunks
    Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    Hanging Trees
    © Andy Goldsworthy, courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Image credit: Jonty Wilde, courtesy of YSP

  • David Nash often works with natural materials to make interventions in the landscape. In 2010 he was invited to make a permanent work to coincide with his major exhibition in the indoor galleries and open air. He proposed replacing the existing, decayed wooden steps that led up from the lakes towards Oxley Bank and the highest points of the Park.
    71 oak slabs were charred and oiled on site, and were placed to work with the lie of the land. The steps are completed by 30 tonnes of coal, creating an installation that will erode and change over time. Integrated into the landscape and as well as being functional, the work also refers to the coal that lies beneath the ground and that was the source of the estate's original wealth.

    Seventy-One Steps 2010
    David Nash (b.1945)
    Charred oak & coal
    Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    Seventy-One Steps
    © Courtesy of the artist and YSP. Image credit: Jonty Wilde. Courtesy of YSP

  • Whilst YSP Visiting Artist in 2012, Hemali Bhuta became especially drawn to the site’s history, to the trees, and their related narratives.
    Drawing inspiration from Indian folklore around forests, she researched English stories about trees and became inspired by a wooded area of Beech trees, which were traditionally thought to ward off snakes. Speed Breakers are made in bronze, cast from the roots of a nearby fallen beech. The artist reintegrated them into the walking route through the woodland amongst real tree roots, and they are barely perceptible as being any different, unless you look closely or reach down to touch them. Bhuta's work is a subtle intervention, intended to catch the eye rather than dominate the space it occupies.

    Speed Breakers 2012
    Hemali Bhuta (b.1978)
    Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    Speed Breakers
    © Courtesy of the Artist, Lender and YSP. Image credit: Jonty Wilde. Courtesy of YSP

  • This powerful work by Alfredo Jaar draws attention to a highly challenging subject. The Garden of Good and Evil comprises 10 steel cells that reference cells used for prisoners at ‘black sites’, secret detention facilities around the world operated by the CIA. By placing the cells in a wooded landscape, Jaar partially obscures them from view, echoing how these sites of interrogation and torture are hidden from public awareness.
    Each cell has a one-metre square base, drawn from the poem One Square Metre of Prison by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who spent much of his life in prison and in exile. The poem and Jaar's work remind us of the privilege of freedom and the power of human imagination.

    The Garden of Good and Evil 2017
    Alfredo Jaar (b.1956)
    Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    The Garden of Good and Evil
    © courtesy the artist, a-political and YSP. Image credit: Jonty Wilde. Courtesy of YSP

  • Silence is Heather Peak and Ivan Morison’s response to the question “can art save us from extinction?”. You can walk through the ring-shaped space, weaving between tree trunks in places. This pavilion creates a place for meditative contemplation, an oasis of calm where you are invited to sit in silence, in communion with the world around you, listening to the sounds of the woodland.
    Silence uses strategically managed natural materials from YSP and the North York Moors National Park, and sustainably sourced timber from the artists’ woodland. The work is intended to foster a greater sense of connectedness to nature, in the hope that that connection will lead to an increased care and a desire to take action to protect the environment.

    Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds 2021
    Heather Peak and Ivan Morison (founded 2003)
    Rammed earth, wood, heather, Shoji paper & living trees
    H 300 x W 1390 x D 1390 cm
    Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds
    © Heather Peak and Ivan Morison. Image credit: Yorkshire Sculpture Park