Posts tagged ‘sculpture’

March 5, 2013

Yinka Shinobare MBE: FABRIC-ATION

Last week I had the great fortune to be invited to a special preview evening at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in advance of the opening of a major new exhibition, FABRIC-ATION, from Yinka Shinobare MBE.

I have to admit that I’d not heard of London born, Nigerian raised Shinobare before, but I did know one piece of his work – Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle – because it was on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, and is now on permanent display in Greenwich. It’s his movement towards the creation of works both for public spaces and for the open air that makes it a perfect time for this exhibition at YSP, and the commissioning of two new pieces of sculpture, which are part of this exhibition and titled Wind Sculptures, underlines this. I loved the fact that he asked the general public what they’d like to see on the Fourth Plinth, and that Nelson now is a recurring theme through his work.

In the hours spent at YSP viewing this exhibition, and listening to the curator, I’ve gone from knowing nothing of Shinobare to being a firm fan. The entire collection is suffused with a sense of playfulness and yet the subjects chosen are those of the most serious, from climate change to class inequalities and the historic pursuits of the aristocracy. Revolution Kids, half-human, half-animal sculptures carrying replicas of Gaddafi’s golden gun and Blackberry phones, are Shinobare’s response to the London riots, and convey perfectly the way in which he manages to mix the serious with the playful to create work that is really engaging, and almost comical, yet with a serious underbelly that occasionally has a rather more sinister feeling to it.  Food Faeries (about the globalisation of the food market)  is a pair of headless sculptures of winged children carrying fruit that really made me shudder a little.

Revolution Kid (Fox Boy) Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Revolution Kid (Fox Boy) Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Colonialism, race, globalisation and identity are also recurring themes, and Shinobare uses ‘authentic African’ batik fabric – which was first mass produced in Holland and sold into West Africa in the 19th Century – as a way of confounding expectations.

Alongside the thoughts of identity come those of ‘aliens’ – which made me think of refugees and human ‘aliens’, and here Shinobare again turns the idea of alien life on its head, with the inclusion of flying machines more akin to Leonardo’s inventions than what we expect from science fiction.

Alien Man on Flying Machine (2011) Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Alien Man on Flying Machine (2011)
Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A really diverse range of work is on display from the period 2002 to 2013,  including film, photography, painting and collage as well as sculpture, which demonstrates Shinobare’s desire to be impossible to categorise. It feels like a wonderful opportunity to really learn a great deal about his work over the past decade.

I truly loved this exhibition and I think that everyone would find something about it to enjoy, whether that is the boldness of the satire, the contrast between the seriousness of the subjects and the fun of the interpretation, or even just the bright colourful nature of each piece of art.

The exhibition is at the beautiful Yorkshire Sculpture Park until 1st September 2013 and I will definitely be returning for another viewing of this remarkable artist’s work.

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March 16, 2012

Miro at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

This week, I was lucky enough to attend a special preview of the new exhibition of work by Catalan Surrealist artist Joan Miró at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I have to admit, I deliberated a bit before accepting. You see, I know embarrassingly little about art. I formally stopped studying art after GSCE, the highlight of which was a reinterpretation of the famous ‘Whistlejacket’ painting by Stubbs, which I’m sure proves that at that point in time, my mind was already in the stables. Still, the one thing I love to do more than anything else is learn something new, and art (in all its forms) is something that I am enjoying learning more about all the time. Making up for my misspent youth, perhaps. Attending the viewing and also listening to the team of curators speak about Miró, gave me the opportunity to learn more about this great artist whilst at the same time view this unique exhibition.

The exhibition focusses on Miró’s sculpture, although there are paintings too, in the Underground Gallery of YSP. What I found really fascinating about the collection is that Miró worked with different foundries at the same time, and as a result of that, produced completely different works. Viewed together, they look as though they’re from a different period, or a different artist, and yet they’re not. Some are giant bronzes, curved, smooth and beautiful. Around these sculptures I generally had to walk with my hands firmly clasped behind my back, to prevent me from reaching out and stroking them. Others are spikier, boldly coloured and make use of found objects to create totemic human forms. Both forms of sculpture have an overwhelming focus on the human form, interpreted through a Surrealist perspective and complete with all the requisite body parts (cue childish eyebrow raising from me), giving them what the curator called an ‘earthiness’ and reflecting Miró’s relationship with the Catalonian soil of his childhood. I always find the use of ‘found’ objects in art really poignant, and where Miró has used objects to represent things he feared might be lost from the world and placed in the context of the Spanish Civil War period of their creation, this is especially true.

Miró was older when he really got into his stride with sculpture, starting in the 1940s and ending a year before his death, in 1982. I love the idea of him, in what would have generally been considered his retirement age, creating these giant sculptures and getting more political and against ‘bourgeois art’ as he aged. He wanted his work to be  a part of the fabric of life instead of being removed from it, and this is realised as some of his pieces of work are to be found in the streets across the world from Barcelona to Chicago.

So, I still know embarrassingly little about art, but I do know more about Miró now and I found this exhibition truly interesting. Some things I found beautiful, some things I felt that I didn’t fully understand, but everything provoked a response, which I think is a sure sign the exhibition is worth a repeat visit with my family. I have plans to create a Miró homage sculpture with the kids out of old boxes and bold coloured paint – although probably without all the body parts!

One thing the curator said that really struck me was that in Miró’s work can be seen his thoughts about humanity – both fear for it, but also hope about what humanity is and what it could be. If that isn’t a good reason to want to come and see this great and groundbreaking exhibition, I don’t know what is.

The Miró exhibition opens on 17th March 2012 and will be at Yorkshire Sculpture Park until January 2013. Alongside the sculptures inside the Underground Gallery are some more placed outside. This is in addition the Park’s incredible permanent sculpture collection displayed in the wonderful parkland, smaller exhibitions, workshops, special events and a great restaurant and store. It’s one of my favourite places in the whole world, please do go along for a visit!