Fancy spending a day strolling in the lush Yorkshire countryside with the spring breeze in your hair, admiring some of the best modern and contemporary sculpture in the world? In its vast acreage of landscaped grounds, Yorkshire Sculpture Park offers just that.
The 500 acres of parkland are set within a listed historic landscape designed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Bretton Estate. At least 40 open-air sculptures are on display at all times, designed by a wide variety of artists.
The park also boasts four indoor galleries which house exhibitions throughout the year; One of these, the Garden Gallery, isfeaturing contemporary craft and design including ceramics, furniture, glass, etchings, paintings, textiles and rugs until 23 April this year. There is also a jewellery exhibition, with many pieces sculpted from unlikely materials such as wood and wool.
The entrance to the park is marked with the uniquely designed Centre building, offering a community resource area, an auditorium and conference facilities. The main restaurant upstairs has stunning views over the parkland and its sculptures, although picnicking space is also available if you want to make the most of the fresh air.
If you're planning a family day out, the gardens on the Access Sculpture Trail should keep the children engaged. Planting on the trail focuses on scent, touch, sound and texture, and the paths have contrasting surfaces. Helpfully, they are designed to allow pushchair and wheelchair access too.
Longside Gallery is another must-see. Converted from an indoor riding arena, this vast space is used by various galleries including the Hayward Gallery in London, which uses it to display modern and contemporary British art from the Arts Council Collection.
Even if you're not an art expert, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is worth a visit for the location alone. You might be surprised to learn that the nearest train station is just two hours from London's King's Cross. Make sure you pop into the craft shop before you leave to purchase a little piece of sculpture to take home — unless you've been inspired to create your own!
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Sculpture in the park. Vital 3, 10–11 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/vital372