Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A view of the south elevation of Bretton Hall

Compared to 2016, when I was out exploring at least once a week, 2018 was somewhat subdued, despite the extended period of hot summer weather, and I had to rely on my outings with the Sheffield U3A Geology Group to see somewhere new – the Churnet Valley and Alderley Edge being particularly interesting. 

There are, however, several longstanding favourite places of mine that I like to show to friends who visit me in South Yorkshire, including the city of Lincoln, Conisbrough Castle, the village of Wentworth and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I have been visiting the latter for more than 20 years and, taking advantage of a glorious day, I spent 4 hours there – finding places that I would certainly use for a formal field trip. 

Shapes in the Clouds III by Peter Randall-Page in Rosso Luana Marble

Although I don’t have any experience as a sculptor, as a photographer I have taken an interest in this art form ever since I was commissioned on an ad hoc basis, back in 1993, to record examples of post–war architectural sculpture by the National Monuments Record (NMR) – now part of Historic England - which led to a project for the National Inventory of War Memorials

Having already developed interests in photographing finely carved stonework etc. when preparing publicity material for Triton Building Restoration, my eye for capturing fine details was noticed by the NMR when I exhibited a photo album of black and white prints at a national trade exhibition, and I have been developing this skill ever since. 

A view of the landscape at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Over the years, I have seen many very fine sculptures at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park made from a wide variety of different stones but, more often than not, the sculptures on display are made of other materials: however, set in the grounds of the old Bretton Hall, it is just a pleasure to take in the landscape – where the tilted Carboniferous Coal Measures strata have been eroded away by the River Dearne to emphasise the dip and strike landforms that are typical of the region. 

The Camellia House

Bretton Hall itself has always been out of bounds, formerly as Bretton Hall College and now that it is being redeveloped as a hotel, but the chapel and the Camellia House, as well as substantial artworks by Andy Goldsworthy, provide plenty of opportunities to look closely at the various sandstones used as a building stone here. 

Lady Eglinton's Well

Walking around the grounds, Lady Eglinton’s Well obscures an old quarry face, where unusual examples of spheroidal weathering can be seen, which reflects the variation in iron content – including the development of ironstone nodules. Although I have never explored it in detail, a more extensive quarry face is found just behind it and the sedimentary structures here can be studied at leisure. 

Spheroidal weathering and iron nodules in an old quarry face

Every time I visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I always find something new. On my last trip, I explored the Upper Lake, where the Shell Grotto forms an interesting example of stone construction - but I still have yet to see the Obelisk and the Greek Temple.

The Shell Grotto

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