A definite plus to working part-time is that I can manage my own time when I’m not in the office. Like many of the artists on Axis I juggle a part-time job, freelance work (both art related and my own business, which in my case is as a yoga teacher) and my artistic practice.
So it doesn’t leave much spare time, but who could turn down a jolly jaunt to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) on one of the few glorious days in August? My main mission was to see artist on Axis Emily Speed’s solo show in the Bothy Gallery.
I’ve been following Emily’s preparations for this show on Twitter and was sad to have missed the preview night in July. Axis showed Emily’s work on our stand at Manchester Contemporary last year so I am familiar with her intricate constructions made from cardboard and masking tape hanging precariously on the wall and tipping down towards the floor, often featuring slide projectors casting images into tiny cardboard enclosures.
What I found at YSP was a developed and considered show that took the viewer from her cardboard constructions, through to new work consisting of cast plaster eggs that feature cantilevered protrusions akin to shanty town shacks or improvised balconies, and into a physiological landscape inspired by and constructed from the debris of the abandoned student residencies at Bretton Hall (part of the YSP site).
The journey then takes you out onto the lake at the park, bobbing about in a precarious coracle, built out of wood and cardboard; beautiful photographs chronicle the journey of the ‘Cabanon’. One photograph shows the onset of some classic Yorkshire rain, potentially threatening to the artist’s vision, but it actually creates an ominous sense of peril which sits perfectly amongst the eerie calm of the exhibition.
It was a real pleasure to see Emily’s work in the flesh after viewing online (although I am pleased to say she does a great job representing her practice in the digital realm).
It would have been amiss of me not to check out the rest of the park whilst there, so we undertook the very pleasant walk up to Longside Gallery (the space that YSP shares with the Arts Council Collection) to see Aeneas Wilder’s ‘Untitled #155’.
The huge circular wooden trellis is part of his ‘Kick Down’ series and is not supported in any way: it is an utterly bewildering act of balance and tenacity. Initially it seemed inert,but then I stepped past the barrier and into its periphery and I was suddenly paralysed with a fear that my body would act without conscious thought and I’d knock the whole thing over!
Viewing the other visitors and the Yorkshire landscape through the lattice grid is beguiling and I could almost sense the structure falling, hearing the incredible sounds that it will make as it cascades.
Unfortunately the event that marks the actual kicking down of the structure by the artist on 3 November is totally booked up, but we were told that it may be streamed live on the web. If it is, I’ll be watching and we’ll let you know how you can too.
Watch the video of the Kick Down in action: