Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) presents [Re]construct in the 18th-century Chapel. Selected largely from the Arts Council Collection by YSP, as part of the National Partners Programme, the exhibition questions what we know and understand about architecture, and features work by artists including Martin Creed, Anya Gallaccio and Cornelia Parker.
There has long been an intimate and complex relationship between sculpture and architecture, with many artists operating at and around this boundary. The exhibition explores ways in which artists have incorporated architecture into their work using a process of deconstruction and reconstruction in order to interrogate and manipulate its forms.
Several of the works question our ideas about the materiality and permanence of the built environment, with bricks made of wax, wall plugs crafted from onyx, reassembled ruined structures, and bodies painted to look like stone. Other objects insinuate themselves into the very fabric of the building, their presence subtly altering the architectural status quo. Centrally within the Chapel’s nave, Cornelia Parker’s Neither From Nor Towards is one of the artist’s iconic suspended works and comprises weathered bricks from a row of houses destroyed when they slipped into the sea on the south-east coast following the erosion of the cliffs. Further shaped by the aggressive action of the waves, the bricks have been reassembled so when seen from above they form the simplified box house shape of children’s drawings, complete with pitched roof. Hinting at the previous life of the material, the work exists held in silent stasis, a resurrection or ghost of its former self.
Alex Chinneck also examines the idea of transient architecture through the use of wax bricks, replacing a long-lasting material with an entirely malleable one that changes state even with the heat of touch. Emphasising its unsuitability for construction, a circle at the centre of the wall has been melted, resulting in cascades of wax. Like Parker’s brick house, this sculpture captures a moment frozen in time. The title A Hole in a Bag of Nerves further adds to the presence of a human hand in this work, drawing attention to metaphysical rather than physical qualities.
Susan Collis’s Untitled (Rawl Plugs) confounds expectation, masquerading as everyday wall fixings that appear to have been abandoned, possibly after a picture or shelf has been removed. The work is actually carefully crafted in semi-precious stone. In drawing attention to the smallest details of our surroundings, Collis invites us to consider the hierarchy of materials and encourages us to look at and analyse our environment with greater care.
Work No.135 by Martin Creed, is a protrusion that grows from and becomes part of the wall itself, finished in the same material and painted white so that it appears simultaneously at home and incongruous. Like an organic growth, it interrupts our preconceptions and suggests an animate life within the inanimate structure of the building.
Commissioned in 1744, YSP’s Chapel is an exceptional space, which also embodies the extraordinary way in which buildings can independently engender very particular qualities such as peacefulness and spirituality. Here the works on display further intensify the already heightened relationship between the viewer and their immediate environment.
[Re]construct features work by: Claire Barclay, Alex Chinneck, Susan Collis, Martin Creed, Anya Gallaccio, Lucy Gunning, Sonya Hanney and Adam Dade, Denis Masi, Alex Pain, Cornelia Parker, Nina Saunders, Emily Speed, John Wood and Paul Harrison.
To accompany the exhibition, and in celebration of the architecture and follies that punctuate the landscape at YSP, exhibiting artist Emily Speed will lead A Parade of Architectural Commas at the Park on 20 May 2017 (from 2.30pm / Free). The unique event will see performers in architectural costumes emerge and gather into a small parade for a journey through the Park.