I set off yesterday with the almost obligatory leaden sky overhead - though every now and then the sun would appear, shining brightly for a few seconds, almost as if from time to time it found a hole in the clouds, stuck its head through and waved frantically for attention, before being dragged away again and re-shrouded in layers of grey. Lancashire Grey - is it a recognised colour? Weather, eh, what would we talk about if it wasn't around?
Then cloud from the inside (yup, more weather talk). I rather like fog, the way it shrinks the world and puts a lid on top. I very quickly find myself feeling that fog is all there has been, all there is and all there will ever be, and was a little bemused when suddenly it all turned golden - till I realised we were under the cloud again, instead of in it, and the gold was the hillside coming into focus. Landscape colours are just so amazing, they knock me out. The gold of winter grass; the dark, dark, smoky purple of shadowed hills; the amazingly subtle layered blues of distance; the way that sun and atmosphere can make sky and hillside blend into each other until it's impossible to judge where one ends and the other starts, begging tense, moody stories to be told - I'm still digressing, I know. For the record, the rest of the day was pretty much all sun, which is the way I expect the split between Lancashire and Yorkshire to be.
I always contrive to be irritated by YSP - I don't like the website, which doesn't seem to say enough; there aren't enough signposts to make life easier when you're trying to get there; even the ticket machines for the car park don't seem as clearly labelled as they might be. Still, I accept that all of those might be my mindset and nothing more, and I do like the vast expanse of the place, where the most noticeable noise is birdsong of one sort or another (well, on this visit, birdsong and the wood chipper, but hey). I came this time to see, of all things, the Angie Lewin exhibition. I say of all things because her work isn't quite my bag. I feel like it should be, and I can even remember being charmed when I first came across it - seedheads definitely are my thing - but instead I end up feeling shruggish. I accept that they're beautifully executed but I'm disappointed that, as far as I'm concerned, they aren't quite where I want them to go, and they aren't going to get there either because they're completed. They're nothing like Cath Kidston's chintzy designs, but they give me that same feeling of something from which, I don't know, I want more. I just feel they could be more than they are.
But I thought there was the possibility that it was all in the reproduction, that if her prints were there in front of me it might make the difference. And the conclusion is... well, partly. A little. Mostly I would say that the copies of her work in mags and on cards are very faithful, also that yes, they are excellently printed, and I did pin down what I already knew, which was that her colours are rarely my colours. Quite a lot of white, too. I liked the wood engravings best (all colour, liked that), and especially those combined slightly quirkily with driftwood. I found that with Anne Desmet too - that the offbeat substrates added something. That's just me, I know. If I'm brutally honest, I liked a mug, a teatowel and a beautiful scarf with a very simple design best. And her sketches. Anyway, here's a very small selection from what was there. Apart from the agapanthus print, which went well, excuse the quality of the photos - I did my best.
I missed his 9 foot tall statue outside but have since caught up with it on a short video which also managed to point out how much sculpture I failed to see on this visit. I don't know about the artist's notion that the statue looking at his mobile phone suggested a connect to the rest of the world, though - to me it shouted instead about a disconnect from the world immediately around him.
And then I set out for the other side of the lake. I've never made it over there before (though on the other hand I've managed to see more of the sculpture on the nearside). I passed some works by David Nash
I wanted to see the Andy Goldsworthy hanging trees, and I did, but to be honest they were just trees reasonably early on in the process of rotting, and there are plenty more of those around the park. Nice walls I suppose, but not exciting.
I'm slightly ashamed to confess that I probably trampled all over another sculpture without even noticing. Twice maybe, to make it worse, and the second time I really was looking out for it. Speed Breakers is by Hemali Bhuta and comprises a number of bronzes of cut-off roots set into the path. Here they are, flanked by photos of ... some roots in the path. Am I excused? I had to scrape at them with my fingernail to get even a glimmer of metal..