Miro at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

As I mentioned recently in my post on Richard Long  I feel incredibly lucky to have both the Hepworth Gallery and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park within a 20 minute drive from where I live.  The Sculpture Park is definitely my favourite place to visit, 500 acres of beautiful parkland, fantastic sculpture, innovative curation, lovely food and gifts, space, fresh air  – it’s brilliant and somewhere that I go to regularly.  It’s fantastic at any time of year but for me it’s at it’s best either in the snow or at this time of year when it’s cold but bright, you wrap up warm and enjoy the walk around the site.

At the moment there is a huge exhibition of Miro’s work, I think I read that there are over 200 pieces and it is the largest collection of his work gathered in one place.  Interestingly I don’t tend to think of Miro as a sculptor but as a painter having seen some his work in Majorca so I was interested to go along and have a look at the exhibition.  I always find it fascinating when you go to see something new (or new to me) wondering what it will be like, that voyage of discovery where you are going to have to use your eyes as a filter to your brain  and wonder what thoughts and ideas will formulate.

For me the Miro’s were really playful, and yes almost childlike in their simplicity, almost all of them appeared to interpret the human form in some way and I found it amusing how many everyday objects were included in them so much so that at one stage I found myself really drawn to what objects he had used.  I came across a peg, bar of soap, cauliflower, spoon, lots of shoes, coat hanger, tap etc.  I also noticed that many of the sculptures had a crescent moon on the top or incorporated into them – no idea what the significance of this was, perhaps someone who actually knows a bit about art could shed some light?

You can of course just go along to see the Miro’s but a lovely day meant that we could take our time and have a meander around the whole site which at the moment is like a greatest hits of sculpture – Moore, Hepworth, Nash, Goldsworthy, Gormley, Plensa, Kapoor, Long, Caro, Turrell and many many more (what can you spot in the photos below). Familiar favourites, such as Playground by the Greyworld collective triggering sound with your movements or the perfect hide and seek Promenade by Sir Anthony Caro, blend in with new discoveries (the bee library !) and now that the walks around the lakes have been completed a whole new area of the park has become accessible.  Taking the time to wander and enjoy the whole site in all it’s splendour is the perfect nourishment for body, soul and mind – the Miro is great but don’t forget there is so much more to explore and discover.

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Cilgerran Castle

If there is one thing that gives you a glimpse into the turbulent history of Wales it is the castles that litter the land.  Many people will be aware of the huge ring of castles built by Edward Longshanks at Flint, Rhuddlan, Builth, Aberystwyth, Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech and Beaumaris that he built to crush and control the rebellious Welsh but the bloody history of Wales means that there is barely any reasonably sized settlement in Wales today that does not show traces of fortification.  I was staying down in West Wales over the summer and the little village of Cilgerran is a classic example of a small place that was once the scene of significant history as it was here in 1109 that Nest (the Welsh ‘Helen of Troy’) was abducted by Owain, son of the Prince of Powys causing a major conflict within Wales.  The area was the scene of much conflict of the next few hundred years as Welsh clans battled the English invaders.  The final rebuilding of the castle as you can see it in the ruins today dates from the 13th century and although it’s entrance is somewhat hidden in the village you can quickly see what a strategic setting it had, two sides being easily defended by the steep sided, and beautiful, Teifi gorge.

I’m no expert on castles but there were a couple of features that I thought somewhat unusual – first is that there was no keep, all of the living quarters were situated within the two huge towers.  The second I discovered is that the architect of the towers constructed the spiral staircases the wrong way round which meant that it was easier for soldiers attacking (with swords in their right hands) than it was for the defending soldiers to defend.

It is a beautiful site in a lovely area and a reminder that you don’t need to go to one of the well known huge castles as there are plenty more dotted all over Wales to have a look at.