Monday, 24 October 2011

Wakefield or bust!

A Bit of Taxi Trouble...

We've all been up to Wakefield, to the opening of Clare Woods new exhibition at The Hepworth

It's the first time that the whole Meadow Arts team has gone on a proper trip together, so we were all quite excited to be heading off to The Hepworth Wakefield - a stunning building and fantastic gallery space, which is the winner of the British Design Awards 2011.

Mandy & Louisa outside The Hepworth

It is a long drive from Shropshire and Herefordshire, where we are all based, so we decided to do it 'road trip' style in one car (there are only four of us in total). We had a good drive up with a bit of Bob Dylan on the car stereo, but the traffic slowed us down a fair bit on the M1 towards the end. We managed to arrive at our hotel about twenty five minutes before the speeches, so we did a lightning fast change/glam-up and whizzed down to the lobby to get our taxi - only to find he'd been and gone already! Now we know that people are busy, but a three minute wait for your customers to arrive is surely not beyond the pale, is it? We had to recall him and finally arrived at the wonderful Hepworth gallery just as the speeches were finishing. C'est la vie I suppose, but it's a good job we didn't miss the paintings or there might have been some serious repercussions for our erstwhile taxi driver...

Clare Woods new paintings were well worth our long trip North. The use of colour and form is stunning and the scale of the works is huge - some of them are ten metres long, meaning that you need to stand at some distance from them in order to see the whole panorama. The work is based on rock formations in Yorkshire and the monumental scale of the paintings, suits their subject matter perfectly. Woods has been using some oil paints, as well as her usual enamel paints, during her making process, allowing parts of the work to have different textures and effects. I only hope that I get the chance to go back and see them again: it is well worth the trip. Clare Woods The Unquiet Head continues until 29th January 2012 at The Hepworth Wakefield. You can see Clare's painting The Bishops at Hereford Cathedral now, as part of Meadow Arts Public Commissions programme.

Clare Woods exhibition The Unquiet Head, The Hepworth Wakefield (photo: The Hepworth website)
After a delicious and very generous buffet at the gallery we all trundled into another taxi, which managed to take us to the wrong hotel - despite Meadow Arts clear instructions! We didn't really mind as it gave us the chance to see more of Wakefield and our driver kindly deposited us in the right place in the end. I don't know what our problem with taxis is though. Perhaps we all need some taxi training before we venture out again...

Day 2: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

 The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is just down the road from Wakefield, so that was the destination for three of us on Saturday (Anne had to go home as she had more pressing matters to attend to). After a pretty slow breakfast (bit upset that our hotel had run out of croissants - probably my favourite part of any hotel breakfast) we popped back to the Hepworth's shop before heading to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is set in some very beautiful countryside and hosts a permanent sculpture collection, as well as temporary exhibitions both outside and within its interior gallery spaces.

My favourite pieces of the day were: 

James Turrell's Deer Shelter Skyspace which is a curious and beautiful experience and is a piece of work that I've wanted to see for some time.

Rachel Goodyear's exhibition in the Bothy is exquisitely drawn and very macabre, Goodyear's work features in the current Meadow Arts exhibition House of Beasts at Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury too.

Jaume Plensa Alabaster Heads, 2008-10

Jaume Plensa 29 Palms

Juame Plensa's indoor works were very interesting too: I fell in love with his Alabaster Heads, 2008-10, a truly stunning sensation - walking into that room and being faced with these large carved heads which seemed to exude an inner glow. Sitting there watching them, it seemed as if they could open their eyes at any moment. I particularly enjoyed listening to the sharp intake of breath of each person as they first entered the room and were awed by the sight of these works. His Jerusalem gong piece was very moving too. The gongs are beautiful objects and the sound vibrating around you when you strike them is a quite emotional experience. There is also a very well sited curtain of words called 29 Palms, which runs the length of the glass fronted corridor of the 'Underground' gallery space. The layers of light, shadow and sound in this piece are delightful and playful.

Jaume Plensa
Aeneas Wilder Untitled #155

 Also well worth seeing is Aeneas Wilder's works at YSP's Longside Gallery. The extensive curved enclosure in the main part of this gallery is a little disorientating for the viewer: it makes people walking on the other side to you seem like they are part of a time-lapse film or an optical illusion. There is a video of the installation processes of Wilder on show there too, and you can see that these huge structures are only held together by balance and gravity. There are absolutely no fixings holding the pieces together. If you took away one piece of wood, the entire piece would collapse. You have to see the 'Kick-down' process to believe it!