Backstopped in Bretton

Turned to stone by sculpture

Back to Bretton for the first time in nine years.


Sculpture can be startling, stimulating, enchanting.  It can turn you into stone.

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Eduado Paolozzi: Vulcan

The Yorkshire Sculpture park on the Bretton estate is well frequented.  It should be log-jammed.  Sculpture should be compulsory.  Everyone should be forced to see sculpture, confront it, avoid it, make it.

That’s the thing with sculpture.  It doesn’t skulk on walls.  It gets in your way.   You have to work round it.   The more you do that, the more it stays with you.

Sculpted shape is inner world amid outer space.

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David Smith’s temporary permanence caused more lingering than anticipated.   His welded artefacts are there until January 2020; kept mostly indoors so they won’t escape.  The ones outside are bolted down.  You have to do that with sculptures.

Sculpture is static moving shape.

Get there however you can.   Drive yourself.  Be transported.  You pay to stay.  The car park is the admission.  The more you remain, the more it costs; and the more you gain.

Chinese triptych
Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (part)

It’s big.  It’s a park.  Acres of space. Trillions of zillions of blades of grass, of leaves, of branches.  Oceans of air.  Enormous skies.  Tiny horizons.


Trails to discover masterpieces on blatant display in hidden places.

IMG_8850Diana was hunted out without knowing what we sought.  We suddenly emerged behind her.   Lucy and Jorge Orta’s statue is movement incarnate.  The artists’ work formerly known as Ubelka, and renamed in honour of Diana Beaumont who owned the Bretton Estate until 1831, is a water spirit, timeless yet trapped in flared fashion.  She is articulated action, mischievous menace, devilish delight.   She fixed my expression, though I never saw her face; not even reflected in her element.

We panted up to the Longside Gallery.   The climb was not worth it.  We positively ignored the temporary display of school desk graffiti – whatever!

The descent was much more rewarding.

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Sean Henry’s Seated Figure is huge in scale and minute in detail.   Who could he be?  He looked unsure.


Something about that bulging briefcase.  A lot of baggage.

Damien Hurst’s The Virgin Mother is even taller.   Three times taller.  Thirty-three feet.  High as a house. Gasps here too, because we approached her from behind her back, and expected her to be nowhere near as undressed as she was revealed to be from the front.


Hurst’s unicorn Myth was more tastefully unskinned and thankfully faced away from the restaurant.


There are scores and scores of sculptures to find, before they find you.

Sculpture should be stored this way: fettered yet free.  It’s not going anywhere.  Not until it’s moved.  By then it will have moved many passing persons.   That’s its purpose.

Go on.

Give it a go.

It might stop you.

And draw you back.

Giuseppe Penone: Stone veins between the branches


YSP is close to Wakefield in Yorkshire, England.

Sat nav for main car park: WF4 4JX

 Open every day except 24th & 25th December.

Some areas accessible for all.  Mobility aids can be borrowed subject to availability.

Website: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Music is obliterated.

Silence falls.

The assassins have shot each other. There is no sign of the quickstep celebrants. They have departed, leaving a lifeless life-sized leaping cipher. It thuds to the stage where it stands still glowing from its fusion. There, in dead hot lead, is a statue of their quickstep leap formed by colliding gun shells. A stationary activist and static mover.

Extracted from:

Strictly Done Dancing

Strictly Front cover from full sizeEighteen former celebrities step out one more time. They have one more opportunity to show the world what their lives meant, but first they must meet their allotted partners and work out their routines.

What will Fred make of Marilyn?

What will Eric’s partner think of it so far?

Will Stephen’s routine be out of this world?

Who will dance with Diana?

Will there be a winner?

Available from: Strictly Done Dancing paperback



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