Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP

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We went to a family wedding near Sleaford. Splendid affair, lots of catching up, lovely grub, a bit of a dance, oh….and a wedding. Marvellous.

On our way home on the Sunday we stopped off at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We might have done this anyway, the YSP is a favourite day out for us, but this post over on Down by the Dougie definitely swung the decision: the latest Tony Cragg exhibition was something we wanted to see.

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First off, however, we wandered over to the old Chapel…

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Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei

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There were several art works on display in the Chapel, but two particularly caught our attention. This large ‘wall’, ostensibly made of bricks, which are actually wax and have been partially melted….

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And Neither From nor Towards by Cornelia Parker….

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….made from bricks from a row of houses which have slipped over a cliff onto a beach.

This…

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…is an Andy Goldsworthy sheepfold which B fell off during a previous visit.

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71 Steps by David Nash.

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On the way home in the car we each went through our top 5 ‘things’ of the day – the bluebells in the woods featured on everybody’s list.

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One of three Andy Goldsworthy Hanging Tree.

Although we’ve visited the YSP several times before, we’ve never been over to the Longside gallery. Sometimes it has been closed, or we haven’t had time, or it has been too far to walk with the kids. Anyway, this time we put that right. It’s a very pleasant walk over.

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There was an exhibition there of 1960’s British Art. I can’t remember who this was by, but I liked it.

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This, I’m pretty sure, is by Bridget Riley, I think I might have seen it somewhere before. I always enjoy her very geometric paintings, maybe it’s my mathematical brain.

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We walked back over for a very late and enjoyable lunch in the cafe and then finally made it to the Underground Gallery to see some more Tony Cragg sculpture.

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I wish I could articulate what it is I like so much about these sculptures, but I don’t know even where to begin.

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A and I took a lot of photos. Choosing a selection for this post has been difficult.

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I watched an absorbing documentary about both the creative process and then the fairly industrialised realisation of the sculptures. You can see part of it here – it’s in German, although Tony Cragg is English he has lived in Germany for a long time.

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It’s apparent from the film that many of these ostensively abstract sculptures are inspired by shapes from nature or elsewhere. You can see that here: this small piece, clearly the viscera of some alien species…

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Is, in point of fact…

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….a Church!

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Outside, there were several bigger sculptures.

The boys weren’t very impressed by all of this, but this…

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…was a hit. They loved the distorted reflections it gave.

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Our time was almost up. In our whirlwind tour we hadn’t found time to see any of the sculptures by Anthony Caro, or Barbara Hepworth, or Anthony Gormley, or any of the many Henry Moore’s dotted around the park…

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Well, not properly anyway.

The kids insisted on one final visit: to James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace…

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I like every bit as much as they do, and I certainly enjoy staring at the sky, but maybe we should come again when the sky is a bit less monotone…

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Tony Cragg (and others) at the YSP

Barrow Dock Museum

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We’ve been intending to check out the Dock Museum in Barrow for quite some time and, last week, finally got around to it.

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It’s a small museum, but it has model boats, which are pretty irresistible,

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…and The Furness Hoard, found locally in 2011 and including Viking, Saxon and Arab coins plus fragments of arm-rings and bracelets, not dissimilar in fact from The Silverdale Hoard.

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Having examined the area’s Viking treasures, you may want to dress the part…

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There are also axe-heads and arrowheads of Langdale stone which were apparently brought to the Barrow area for finishing and polishing.

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A big surprise for me, and a great discovery, was this furniture by the late Tim Stead.

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I’ve not been aware of his work before, but shall be looking out for it in the future. He was one of the artists who built the Millennium Clock, now housed by the National Museum of Scotland, and definitely added to my ‘too see’ list.

Whilst the boys hared around the playground in the museum grounds, I took a quick look at the docks themselves.

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Our trip to the museum was intended to be a precursor to a trip to the Wildlife Trust reserve at the southern end of Walney Island, somewhere I’ve long wanted to visit, much like Foulney Island in fact. But, having had my sutures removed early that morning, I now discovered that everything was not quite going to plan, and we spent the next three hours, or thereabouts, sitting around in A&E at Barrow Infirmary waiting to see what was to be done. Not much, it eventually transpired. Patience is the order of the day apparently. Ho-hum.

Barrow Dock Museum

Minimum Monument

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“Minimum Monument is a poignant and moving display featuring thousands of figures made out of frozen water by the artist, her team of technicians and volunteers – a public intervention artwork which is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our planet and the communities it supports.”

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“Néle Azevedo has be working from a temporary studio in K Village with volunteers and her creative team to make over 3,000 200mm tall icemen.”

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“We’ve been working on the moulds for the past two weeks – getting them filled and frozen, then the sculptures were de-moulded and fettled by hand before being stored in freezers and the process starts over again. ”

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“The icemen and women will be transported to Kendal Castle on Sunday morning.”

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“On Sunday Azevedo will invite members of the public to place the beautifully crafted sculptures on the ruins of Kendal Castle where they can watch as these tiny ice figures melt and return to rain water.”

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I’m not sure if this art is the kind of thing which Michael Gove recently derided as ‘modish crap’. Probably.

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“Is this = to Turner, Ruskin, even Holman Hunt – of course not.”

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Which limited frame of reference suggests that the underlying questions is: is this art Victorian?

Of course, Turner’s own art was controversial in it’s day. Had Twitter existed then, no doubt some self-publisizing, narcissistic, failed politician would have been using it to rail against Turner’s non-conventional vision.

(In a politically bleak year a lone high-spot was watching Gove skewer himself with his own back-stabbing machinations.)

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Anyway, we enjoyed Minimum Monument immensely and there were a lot of other people there who also seemed to be thoroughly engaged and appreciative.

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Naturally, I took a preposterous number of photos.

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It was interesting to see how people had chosen to group the figures.

Almost all of the sculptures were placed on the walls, facing in to the castle. This couple…

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…being a rare exception.

Eventually, we dragged ourselves away and walked down into Kendal…

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…where there were numerous other activities on offer.

We added to a large clay sculpture…

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…donned goggles for a 3D virtual reality flight over the Lake District, watched a three handed show (a mime I seem to remember) and visited St. Thomas’s Church to see this…

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…enormous model of the moon by Luke Jerram.

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A highly enjoyable day!

(The quotes at the top of the post are from the Lakes Alive website.)

Minimum Monument

Barcelona -Sagrada Familia

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You can’t really visit Barcelona without taking a look at the Sagrada Familia.

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It’s another place which TBH and I have visited together before, on our previous flying visit to Barcelona. We certainly didn’t book in advance then, and I don’t think we had to pay either, but these days both are necessary and it’s quite expensive. We’d saved a little by booking an early evening slot for our visit.

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Anyway, it was well worth it – it’s an amazing building. I’m sure my photos don’t come close to doing it justice.

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It’s also a work in progress. I would love to come back when it’s finished (current projection is 2026).

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Serial masochists (i.e. regular readers) will know that I like visiting churches and cathedrals, and that when I’m there I’m particularly fond of stained glass windows.

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The multi-coloured windows of the Sagrada Familia, and the amazing way they lit the space, were the highlight for me.

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I’m not sure if you can get a sense of it from these pictures but it was stunning.

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A magic square! I haven’t made good on my resolve to use it in a lesson yet. I wonder what the significance of the total 33 is – unless it’s the obvious one? I presume that the figures here are Jesus and Judas.

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If you are making a visit, it’s worth factoring in some time to take a look at the small museum within the Basilica which holds many of the scale models, some of them pretty big,  which Gaudi used when he was working on his designs for the building.

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Barcelona – Park Güell

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A lot of photographs in this post. You may want to put the kettle on.

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TBH and I have been to Park Güell before, on our previous fleeting visit to Barcelona. Back then it was free to visit and didn’t need to be booked in advance.

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Now, like almost everywhere we visited in the city, Park Güell has a not inconsiderable fee.  In general, Barcelona seemed pretty expensive to me. Although the beach is free and the transport system very cheap,  Museums and Art Galleries and the like, were far from cheap. I suppose this is one way in which austerity has bitten in Spain.

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You can’t really come to Barcelona, however, without a visit to Park Güell. TBH and I were both very keen to go.

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Count Eusebi Güell bought this land intending to turn it, with the help of Antoni Gaudí into a luxurious housing estate, with  sixty plots.

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The two buildings at the top of the post were the porter’s lodges at the entrance.

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There was one other building already on the site, which Güell moved into. Two more houses were built. When it couldn’t be sold, Gaudí bought one of them and moved his family into it.

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Gaudi made alterations to the house which was already on the site, but neither of the other  houses were designed by Gaudí.

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Eventually, the Park became a Municipal Garden.

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So in a way, it’s a giant folly. A failed commercial enterprise, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gaudí had some pretty radical ideas…

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…this was going to be the marketplace. Our kids found it adapted well for hide and seek.

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The Porter’s Lodges. The right-hand one is a shop. The left-hand a museum. But the queue was 45 minutes, so we didn’t go in.

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The famous serpentine seating on the terrace (the only clear memory I had from our previous visit) is the work of Gaudí’s regular collaborator, Josep Maris Jujol.

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The (mostly) hidden house behind the trees, is the Gaudí House Museum, the house where Gaudí and his family lived for twenty years.

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This is the ‘other’ house built in the park, the one which Gaudí didn’t buy. It’s in the free part of Park Güell, which is well worth a visit. There are lots of buskers…

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…this harp player was amazing.

And stunning views over the city, including views of Gaudí’s incomplete cathedral, the Sagrada Família.

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Our next port of call…

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Barcelona – Park Güell

Barcelona – Castell de Montjuic

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When we first arrived in Barcelona our taxi from the airport took us along the coast and beneath this hill, with it’s surmounting fort. Later we had good views of it again, when we boarded the Norwegian Epic for our cruise.

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Obviously, we had to visit when we returned to Barcelona.

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It’s quite a modern fortification, compared to most we see in Britain. It was completed in 1799, although there has been a fort here since 1640. It’s had quite a chequered past, having be captured by the British in 1705 and by the French during the Napoleonic wars.

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Situated as it is, overlooking both the city and the port, it would seem to be ideally sited to defend Barcelona, but it seems that more often than not its guns have been used to bombard the city itself to suppress unrest in the region.

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During the civil war both sides imprisoned and tortured captives here. Most infamously, Lluis Companys, President of Catalonia, was executed here in 1940 on the orders of Franco.

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Not a happy story then.

But the views are magnificent, both near and far…

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We’d been concerned about just how hot it would be in Barcelona in the middle of the summer. In fact, aside from on the Metro, where it could be rather sweaty, it was mostly very pleasant. There generally seemed to be a cooling sea breeze and in the Gothic Quarter at least, the high buildings and narrow streets combined to make a deep, cool shade. On Montjuic hill however, it was very hot.

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So much so that many people were tempted to paddle in the pool above the mirador (waterfall).

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We were wandering down the hill…

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…through pleasant parks…

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…and a sculpture garden…

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…to our next destination…

More to follow!

Barcelona – Castell de Montjuic

Another Place

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The Easter hols are just coming to an end (what a sad sentence that is) and so I have quite a bit to report on. We spent the first couple of days, when the weather was pretty vile, decorating our daughter’s bedroom (she had been deeply cutting, as she is wont to be, about the fact that we had, to her eyes, neglected this task whilst completing other, much less pressing, DIY tasks). Then we headed off for, in Travel Agents’ parlance, a City Break; TBH had booked us a couple of nights in Liverpool. We both did a bit of research before we set-off, but maybe weren’t thorough enough: our planned lunch stop at Rufford Old Hall was perfect aside from the fact that it was closed when we got there. We diverted to Formby, for the sand dunes and the pine woods, which I’ve long wanted to visit, but that was closed too. (‘For your safety’ the notice on the National Trust car park said.)

So then we drove to Crosby for Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’.

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It wasn’t closed, but it was exceptionally windy; even before we reached the seafront, we could see sand drifting across the road. There were lots of couples sitting in their cars eating ice-creams, but nobody else was on the beach; it was almost as if they didn’t fancy being sand-blasted. It was really quite fierce – after a short stroll we found that we had sand in all of our pockets and in every other nook and cranny in our clothing.

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Another Place