The Pica Pica Project: Leeds, Wakefield, Barnsley
This has been quite a week of discovery so The Pica Pica Project is definitely off to a good start. As planned, I made Wednesday my Discovery Day and took myself off to Leeds for the day. An unexpected afternoon off on Thursday allowed me some time to visit the Civic in Barnsley and then – frankly dismayed at the Brexit result – I took myself off to Wakefield for the day to cheer myself up. So far, so good.
Leeds City Museum
I hadn’t visited Leeds City Museum before but I certainly will again. I worked my way from the top down, encountering everything from an Egyptian mummy (to the soundtrack of a party of excited schoolchildren: “Ooooh, look at his feet!” … “Is it Tutankhamun?” … “It’s coming to get you”) to some beautiful but sadly extinct wildlife species, preserved for us to look at in both wonder and shame.
There’s a lot about the history of Leeds, as well as a great collection of curiosities donated to the museum, including photographs, ceramics and paintings. There is an exhibition called In Their Footsteps running from 1 July 2016 to 8 January 2017 so I am planning to go back for that in late July.
Henry Moore Institute
Preparations are underway for a large exhibition so galleries 1-3 were closed but I stopped by to visit William Hamo Thornycroft’s ‘Charity and Justice’ (1888) and some related documents and photographs. It was worth the visit, not least of all because I found out that it is not, in fact, bronze like I had expected but instead is patinated plaster.
The big exhibition being prepared is The Body Extended: Sculpture and Prosthetics, which runs from 21 July to 23 October so my return trip to Leeds in late July will allow me to see this too.
Thackray Medical Museum
I had intended to visit Abbey House but at the last moment changed my mind as I was right by the bus stop for the bus that would take me to St James’s Hospital. I decided I would visit Thackray Medical Museum because it had been a long, long time since I had visited. (I will do Abbey House on my return visit to Leeds.)
If you haven’t been, there’s an opening part of the museum where you walk through very small ‘streets’ that are supposed to simulate the dark and dank conditions of Victorian England. It is very well done. However… I am very scared of both waxworks and mazes. Although there was no maze, the short alleys and corners you couldn’t see round until you got there were unnerving enough. Throw a few waxworks in and I was quite spooked! There is an alternate route you can take to bypass that area but I decided not to. After all, this summer is supposed to be about being brave! I’m glad I stuck it out as it is a very well done part of the museum.
The museum is huge but well worth taking a lot of time to look at everything really thoroughly.
Thursday: Barnsley and Friday: Wakefield and Barnsley
The Civic: X1 MA Degree Show
Thursday saw an impromptu visit to The Civic to see the X1 MA Degree Show, a collection of works from MA Fine Arts students. This “postgraduate programme was launched in 2010 by Barnsley-based education charity The Open College of the Arts” and the work was provocative, challenging and so good I actually returned a second time on Friday to see it again before the show ended.
I’m not really one for taking photographs at exhibitions. I have nothing against it but I really like to see what I’m seeing and I know if I had my camera, I’d be more concerned about what I was capturing than what I was experiencing. (If that makes sense. It did in my head.) Instead, let me share weblinks for some of the artists who really caught my attention and imagination and – in one case – reduced me to tears:
Debjani Bhardwaj – “a visual storyteller, inspired by the realm of dreams and dreams within dreams”
“The narratives lie in the gap, in the slippery slope of in betweenness, where nothing is completely true and everything is possible.”
Jane Dudley – “my work displays a feature of institutionalization – viewing and identifying, or ignoring and passing by – but it is itself to be viewed or ignored”
Roshni Goonraj Beeharry – “an evolutionary perspective on the familiar locale of her home island of Mauritius”
Iain Holman – “looking at how emotions can be conveyed by body language through the social masks we wear”
Alex Kershaw – “the overlooked and hidden details of the lush and layered landscape of Perthshire through drawing, painting, printmaking, lens-based media and poetry”
Before my return visit on Friday, I also had the opportunity to pop up to University Campus Barnsley and look at some of the work in the Art Matters More Than Facts exhibition. Even before seeing that work, wandering around the corridors was a treat in itself, given the many brilliant works on the corridor walls!
The Hepworth, Wakefield
I had never been to The Hepworth so I took myself off on Friday morning. I arrived a little early so had some time to sit and look at the building and take a couple of pictures:
Of course, the work of Hepworth was beautiful and I spent a long of time wondering what it would feel like, weigh etc. and found myself quite captivated by Elegy III in particular. The sheer variety of sculptures is quite staggering, though, and it’s a wonderful space, beautifully lit and with a stunning outlook from the huge windows (if you can tear yourself away from the art – easier said than done!). There was also a display of David Storey’s work and I lost myself in that gallery quite a bit but in the loveliest way:
Visiting us this evening? Don't miss newly opened David Storey exhibition featuring over 400 small scale works… pic.twitter.com/vf5jerCSrx
— The Hepworth (@HepworthGallery) June 24, 2016
A highlight of the day was seeing three of Hockney’s ‘The Arrival of Spring’ pieces, which are iPad drawings printed on paper. I was very taken with those and the use of colour and the idea that art and technology are not exclusive to one another but can actually intertwine beautifully really resonated.Finally, I got the opportunity to see the Stanley Spencer exhibition. It was due to run from 25th, with a party from 7-10 on 24th to open it but by lunchtime on 24th they had opened it up. I won’t say all his work is for me, although I certainly appreciate the work and attention to detail that must go in to every piece. Some of it, however, really did get me thinking. In particular, Spencer’s nude portrait of Patricia Preece was absolutely beautiful in its honesty and realism.
All in all, this was a really great first discovery week! I didn’t expect to do so much but I enjoyed every minute of it. Next week is York and we’ll see what happens after that. Dave is trying to convince me to take the ultimate adventure and return to Amsterdam alone. Well, I’ve done it before, so it wouldn’t be a brand new adventure but perhaps one I would be happy to repeat nonetheless!
So there we have it. And, if the week wasn’t full of beauty enough, there was a lovely rainbow to greet me as I neared home on Friday.
The adventure continues next week…