Saturday, February 9, 2019

Norman Ackroyd: The Furthest Lands

It turns out that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park doesn't take as long to get to from Leicestershire as I had assumed it might - it's straight up the M1 from here and about an hour and twenty minutes away. Which is good news, because it made going to see the Norman Ackroyd exhibition there much easier than we expected.

I've been a fan of Ackroyd's work since I first actively noticed it in an edition of the Archipelago journal about a decade ago. Mostly I've bought the occasional facsimile sketch books since then, and one very beautiful etching of Scarborough when money wasn't quite so tight. That came from the Zillah Bell gallery in Thirsk where I spent an interesting quarter of an hour in a small room with a lot of Ackroyds. But I was there to look at something specific and there was only limited time to yearn after things I couldn't have.

This current exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (on until the 24th of February) has been the best opportunity for us to go and look, not only at more, but at lots more together in a way that shows the work evolving over a couple of decades. Ackroyd is an absolute master of his medium, this exhibition has 77 etchings and 6 watercolours (all from his Shetland sketchbook) which explore the western edge of Britain and Ireland.

Another print was outside of my current budget, but I've got the exhibition catalogue and a tea towel and I'm happy with that. We got to the YSP early, which was ideal because most of the Ackroyd exhibition is displayed going up the stairs, and along a narrow corridor, before ending up in a small room. You want to be able to look at it when it's quiet, otherwise you're stuck in a very narrow corridor, or busy staircase being jostled by people heading to the cafe.

Every time I've been to the YSP it's rained. With conviction. Today was no exception so there's still a lot of exploring to do should we ever manage to hit it on a dry day, but we did manage to see quite a bit of Giuseppe Penone's 'A Tree in the Wood', or at least I did. D spent most of his time looking at the architecture of the underground gallery and admiring the quality of the concrete. We were both happy though.

Lightning Struck Tree (bronze and gold) was the piece that sucked me in, with a split and hollowed fir tree taking up most of the interior galleries a close second. Altogether it was a very good day out (the cafe is excellent, and so is the gift shop which is a nice bonus) and it's very handy to have been reminded that the YSP is a perfectly feasible day trip.

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