Yesterday saw me back at my favourite place, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which on a beautiful warm autumn day was looking at it’s absolute best. The main underground galleries were being prepared for the next exhibition after the incredible Yinka Shonibare show which has been on over the summer so we headed first to the have a look at Roger Hiorns : Seizure a truly bizarre creation whereby he turned the inside of an East London council flat (which has now been transported to Yorkshire) into a weird blue crystallized Doctor Who like world after he flooded the inside of the flat with 75,000 litres of copper sulphate, left it for a month to see what happened. This was a great example in my ongoing series with the kids of is that art/ what is art to which one of them replied simply “If that’s art then anything is”.
We meandered our way slowly over to the Longside Gallery to have a look at the new Orta exhibition which has the theme of water. There is large collection of different pieces all linked together through the theme. The central piece is a large raft “The Raft of the Medusa” based on the sinking of the French frigate Méduse in 1816 and the subsequent painting of the disaster by Théodore Géricault. In the disaster there were not enough lifeboats for the crew so those who could not make it onto the ships 6 boats were left to fashion rafts from what they could. The Orta’s have constructed their large raft out of all sorts of flotsam and jetsam including children’s inflatables and it asks the question of you what would make a raft out of? All around are other life jackets made up of all sorts of things together with water tanks, taps, bottles etc. The bottles are used in a number of sculptures either as bottles or they’ve been covered and joined together in a coloured coating making clouds and other fluid shapes. All of the objects make you think of water in it’s various forms, that it is the most essential element for sustaining life but that it also causes death through flooding, tidal waves etc. I also thought how utterly maddening it must be to be stuck on a raft afloat on a ocean of water that you would not be able to drink and how you would long for a supply of bottles of water. All of the bottles of water in the various pieces were empty which perhaps helped to heighten this sensation.
As always the Sculpture Park had produced an excellent family guide to the exhibition which my kids enjoyed, it got them thinking about both sides of water, how vital it is but how it can also cause destruction together with getting them thinking about what they would want if they were cast adrift.
For me I was not totally convinced by the individual pieces within the exhibition, the piece at the top of this post being a very notable exception, but I did enjoy the collective experience and how it made me think about our most precious resource – water.