“ West Bretton / Yorkshire / Wakefield / England „
I visited the Yorkshire sculpture park today which is quite a unique contemporary art gallery.
As you walk round the park, the sculptures are interspersed in nature across a large distance.
There are several notable names in sculpture on show there, including Antony Gormley.
All of the sculptures are outside and you walk across a farm like area with sheep and through gorgeous woodland to get there.
It doesn't cost any money to get in but this is made up for with the car park charge, which is £7.50 for more than 2 hours, £5 for 1-2 hours and £2.50 for one hour.
This is a lovely day out, and it's family friendly, as children will love exploring the sculptures.
Some are more quirky than others, some you will be left wondering what it means and some you will relate to. There are explanatory notes under each one with notes of interpretation as well as the name of the piece and the artist.
I'm quite an art enthusiast and enjoyed seeing the sculptures in such a beautiful natural location. I'd recommend this for a different and exciting day out.
There is a gift shop with the usual overpriced souvenirs as well as a nice selection of artists work. There's a cafe on site and several inside galleries as well as the main outside attractions.
One of the negatives I would say is that the whole place is not wheelchair or pushchair friendly as parts are quite hilly though there are some parts that are accessible.
On the whole, I'd very much recommend you visit!
I was arranging to meet some friends and we decided to pick a place that was about half way between our respective homes to share out the travelling time, so we decided upon the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I for once was driving myself to the attraction, so paid much more attention than usual to how easy it to get there.
The park is located in Wakefield, near Bretton Hall. I used the site's web site to plan my visit, and found that the postcode given on the site (WF4 4LG) worked brilliantly in my sat nav to get me to the site's car park. I had looked on google maps before driving there and would probably have got away with just that as it was pretty simple to find but a sat nav gave me peace of mind in getting to a new place. For my journey, I used the M1 motorway and got off at Junction 38, and I then had to go along the A road towards Huddersfield for about a mile, and the site was well sign posted with brown tourist signs so I couldn't really have missed it.
===Cost to Visit:===
Admission to the open ir sculpture park is free. The only charge is for the car park, which is a cost of £2.50 for up to one hour, £5 for one to two hours, or £7.50 for the whole day. While this seems steep at first, it is a low cost for a family activity, and the car park fees go towards funding the charity that owns the site. I bought my car park ticket online on the night before my visit, and they use cameras to monitor who uses the car park by your registration plate. There are car parking machines on site, but when I saw people queueing up to pay, I was pretty glad I had thought to do it the night before as we were able to get straight on to exploring.
===The Sculpture Park:===
The sculpture park opens at 10am, and we timed our visit to arrive at just after 10am. We stayed in the park about 4 hours, by which point the weather had turned a bit cold and drizzly and the children were pretty exhausted, so although we could have seen more of the site, we called it a bit short and would have to go back another time to look round the areas we missed. I could have stayed till the gates shut at 6.
We started off at the visitor centre to pick up a free map, and a lady at the information desk was very friendly and provided each of the children in our party with an activity book with seasonal items to spot in the woodlands. I was a little disappointed as I had been looking at what there was to do on the website, and had seen a trail where children could collect stamps with poem words on them. Unfortunately the information on the web site was inaccurate as the activity had been pulled due to theft of the stamps, but this is something my children would have loved to have done.
There are indoor galleries on the site, but most of our visit focussed on the outside sculpture park, as having a party that contained 6 boisterous boys and our day being a fine autumnal one, we decided to let them explore and run about as much as we could.
We didn't really refer to the map we were given much at all, preferring instead to wander from exhibit to exhibit through the park land chatting with the children about what they were seeing, and leaving them to explore the parkland. The park is well suited to having exhibits, as it also has a wonderful selection of old trees from pines to oak, to horse chestnut. The children were as much in their element kicking leaves and seeing what wildlife we could spot as they were looking at any sculptures. I think they would all remember most the hedgehog we spotted walking across the path, as they all managed to have a good close look at it and even stroke it.
The exhibits were mostly fairly contemporary art. I am not a fan of some of the items we saw on display, but there were a few pieces that were pretty memorable for me. There was a large carved wooden rocking horse, that looked too beautiful to be exposed to the elements. The boys were all thrilled by the ship that was next to this which was made entirely out of recycled materials such as bike wheels and plastic milk bottles.
Two sculptures I found a bit too explicit were large sculptures that looked like rabbits from the distance, but as you got closer, the limbs were more human in form, and I felt that although they were not explicitly sexual, there was a lot of implyed sexuality in these figures, and I just felt a bit uncomfortable with them compared to the other sculptures in the park.
One item we were particularly keen to find was the musical exhibit, which was again pitched as something that was highly interactive for children. While the children did enjoy this when we found it, I found it was again a little disappointing as it was far less interactive than I had imagined it to be.
Another popular exhibit with the children was a large totem pole which was very attractive with a large eagle perched at the top of it.
===My Verdict of the Sculpture Park:===
Although I am not really a big fan of contemporary art, there is something very appealing about seeing sculptures amongst nature. The park is a brilliant place to take children, and there were plenty of families and dog walkers enjoying the site. The site was well maintained. The cafe and the toilets were immaculate in spite of the muddiness of the park. (Probably helped by the brushes to clean your boots before going in.)
The site allows you a lot of freedom to explore it how you want to. There were plenty of people visiting but you were not bumping into people all the time, you were free to spend however long you wanted in one area, and the boys were enjoying hiding in the trees and being close to nature as much as anything. They did have some interest in some of the sculptures, and I feel it is a great benefit to children to experience art and discover what they like and don't like.
One thing that I was less impressed with was I had read on the website that the exhibits were there to touch and interact with, and what I found was there were a fair amount of them that had cordons round them to stop you getting too close. The children enjoyed far more the things that they could have a more personal interaction with, and these were the exhibits that they were telling me about on the journey home and telling their dad about when he got home from work.
This is a place I would love to return to throughout the seasons. I was impressed with the booklet that was given to each of the kids as it was high quality, and the children were able to explore in safety. I was hugely impressed that although there were dog walkers there, I did not see any mess left on the ground, and there was also no litter. This is probably due to people being considerate, but there were also staff working to clear away leaves and make the area generally nicer while we were there.
We took a picnic for our visit, and found there were picnic tables provided, and there were bins available to discard any of our rubbish. We had a lovely meal in the woodlands.
I would recommend dressing sensibly to go to the park. There was a lot of walking round on grassy areas, which were pretty soggy underfoot. My children got really quite muddy walking round. The paths were dry, but you can't see everything by staying on the paths.
The park is open virtually the whole year apart from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I can see me returning both to explore the grounds again, and also to get some time to look at the indoor galleries. While I would not consider taking my kids to an art gallery for a whole days outing, I am more than happy to let them explore art in this setting, and as the exhibits do change throughout the year, there would be new things to see if you did do a return visit. I can't see how you couldn't enjoy walking round this site and exploring the outdoors in such a pleasant setting.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is worth a visit. I live locally and visit a couple of times a year. It is set in huge parkland and various sculptures are dotted around. The park itself is free entry although car parking is set at four pounds for if you stay for half an hour or a day...this is to pay towards the upkeep. It is great to visit with family, or by yourself for a nice tranquil walk. I always take my camera and capture some good images.
The sculptures range in different styles, there are ones by Henry Moore, the famous sculpture that was based locally. There are also temporary exhibitions. I went to see one by Andy Goldsworthy and that was absolutely fantastic. Some of the sculptures are in really obvious places and some seem to be hidden a way. It feels really good to make a discovery of a sculpture that seems tucked away. Some of the pieces are interactive and are great for kids to get involved. The visitors centre has a great gift shop and cafe.
I can't praise the Yorkshire Sculpture Park enough. Infact, writing this review has made me realise I haven't been for a while and need to visit soon!!!
Do not miss out on this fantastic attraction.
A park for contemporary and modern art.