As we ran south to find our way out of blighty’s subshiney clouds, we stopped at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The visit was rushed, we only had two hours.
Between thirty years ago and now, my previous and this visit, my photography has developed. Then, I loved the form of the sculpture, and still do, but now I am far more aware of light.
Which is why so much of the sculpture lacked. There is much to be done with light, but so little sculpture seems to do it. Now, I realise sculptors work with specific materials, and so are limited to what and how, but I do feel most are ignoring light. Light has certainly been explored with sculpture: just consider what Moretti achieved at La Défense. It’s almost as though modern sculptors do not expect their huge works to be seen in natural light.
Having said that, I saw some sculptures that did use light effectively. Tony Cragg’s “A Rare Category of Objects” includes an almost–gnarly form finished with a mirrored surface, delighting a reflection loving photographer like me. He has others that seem light aware. Another sculptor used translucent plastic in a piece would have been fascinating in morning sun, given its location—but we visited the park in the afternoon when no sunshine could reach it (which is why, I’m sorry to say, I failed to note its name or creator).
But there’s more to this than light. Sculptors use the weathering of time, but I wonder if they could present more dynamic effects, with work that ‘performed’ in different weathers. A sculpture that drummed with rain, that sung with the sun that followed, may not be a new idea, but with modern materials, new plastics, new playfulness, something fresh must surely be possible. Even something that changed over time, such as, for the sake of argument, tones that decohered from acid rain, might give the art a new language.
Still, what do I know: I’ve never picked up a chisel.