Friday, 26 April 2013

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield

This is a pivotal post in the lifetime of this blog as I met three people with different agendas during the course of this weekend that influenced my direction and journey in the short and medium term. About 75 % of the material I have in my photo library still to show at this moment in time can be traced back to this point. Having said all that, you can guess that the text in my opinion is more important than the images here !

I passed the sign for The Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the M1 motorway a few times and often wondered what it was all about. The organisers of The James Bond Ball, that I briefly mentioned in the previous post, arranged an outing to this location the following day. It was an opportunity to talk to people that we had met the night before and provided the opportunity to discuss what we thought about art and its relevance here. Personally I saw it as a historic park with additional features to attract other visitors from outside the area. There were elements to the art that I didn't understand and it was difficult looking at a landscape scene in a vast park with something that maybe shouldn't have been there. However there were a few images that I thought were worthy of being displayed.

The estate is steeped in history stretching back to the time when it was mentioned by William The Conqueror in The Domesday Book of 1086 when the De Bretton family owned it. Despite the Bretton name being kept as a title, the ownership saw a few changes down the centuries generally through intermarriage of the nobility, Knights to the king with created titles of Baronet (Henry VIII, Charles I and Charles II ). The Dronsfield family name taking it during the 13th century, the Wentworth family name in 1407 until 1792.

The present house, Bretton Hall, was built by William Wentworth (4th Baronet of Bretton) 1675 - 1720 and replaced the wooden structure of 1508. Diana the daughter of the last Wentworth who had earlier married a Northumberland MP, Colonel Thomas Beaumont inherited the house in 1792.

She made substantial additions and modifications to the house that included a portico, Stable block, one of the largest conservatories at the time and follies around the estate ... the birth of the Sculpture Park ... :-) haha.

The Park and garden work was looked after by head gardener Robert Marnock who went on to greater things with the Botanical gardens in Sheffield and eventually London.

Three generations later and Bretton Hall became under used as a residence in favour of a race meeting and shooting venue with the owner spending more time in more important places working with Royalty. It gained some use during World War II when the War Office wanted it before the house and large parts of the estate were was sold to the local council in 1948.

Bretton Hall College was born the following year as a teacher training college for art, music and drama. The inception of the Yorkshire Sculpture park in 1977 came about largely due to the progressive syllabus that the college taught. The Principal Lecturer in Art, Peter Murray, became the Founding Director of YSP due to a sculpture exhibition that he organised in the college grounds during 1976. The idea to make it permanent came about with a financial grant from Yorkshire Arts.

The YSP went from strength to strength purchasing large areas of the original estate and opening a variety of galleries across the site.

Lastly, The 21st re-alignment of colleges and polytechnics saw Bretton Hall merge with Leeds University and its subsequent disuse once again as the building was sold back to the council. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park organisation are keen to have the building occupied and they are probably keen for obvious reasons to see the property turned into a ... Luxury hotel

Whatever your thoughts about Sculpture parks are, I felt much more comfortable dealing with old & new friends on this trip than I did the previous night at the Ball even though it gave me less time to take decent images. Hope this post doesn't leave you speechless ...


  1. I love the photos. It's a tricky thing mixing old and new, but those translucent sculptured do look fascinating.

  2. I hope the influence was for the best.

    I really enjoyed the shots of Jaume Plensa's House of Knowledge.

    I'm not quite speechless but I don't quite understand.

  3. I looked it up on the map and am glad to see that it's far from the Yorkshire Dales. lol Love the photo of the bridge. Don't let these new friends influence you too much. ;-)

  4. I find those sculpture really intriguing. Beautiful in a very modern sense.

  5. We looked up the Sculpture Park when we booked our holiday to the moors but it was a little far out of our way to pay a visit. So I enjoyed taking a look around on your post. I'm not keen on Modern next to old, but the sculptures you showed us looked interesting.
    Thanks for your visits and paw prints on George's blog, they always put a smile on my face knowing you have pasted by. The one you left on the post three years down the line "It's tough keeping the momentum up etc" you wouldn't have known but I'm burnt out with blogging and will be taking a Blogging Break. My momentum has got up and gone lol. Have a Good week as George would say....Jan

  6. The park must be large. I like the photo with the "letter statues" sitting on the stones, looks like a conversation hanging in the air. :)

  7. The photos that you took of the sculptures are spectacular. The views and history of the park and the hall are very interesting.

  8. Been reading your Tweets! Can't wait til you blog about this. :-)))


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