Are you ready for a shocking revelation? Ok, here goes. I have lived in Leeds almost my entire life and until a couple of weeks ago I’d never visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I’m going to just assume that you gasped after that sentence, because it is pretty incredible. I blame my schools to be honest – why they insisted on doing all those trips to the Royal Armouries when there was another free attraction so close, I will never know. Anyway, I’m supposed to be sharing my first impressions of the Park aren’t I? Apologies, I digress…
Impression 1: Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a fairy-tale land for adults
The weird and wonderful sculptures really do make the Park feel magic. The current KAWS exhibit features faceless statues with a Mickey Mouse-esque feel to them, and there are so many kooky and colourful creations scattered around you can spend a whole day getting lost in the grounds. A few of my favourites were Marialuisa Tadei’s Octopus and Niki de Saint Phalle’s Buddha, both covered in bright mosaic tiles.
Impression 2: It’s the most middle-class family attraction in the UK
Even though my first thought was that it was a fairy-tale land for adults, there sure were a lot of kids there. Not just regular kids, but kids experiencing new-age middle class upbringings from parents who say things like “Benedict, Elspeth, please don’t do that” (names taken from real life). This is not a disciplining method I will ever use with children of my own, as my observation is that they will gleefully ignore you and do it anyway.
Impression 3: The Park is bigger than I thought it was
My friend advised me to get a map at the entrance, and it’s definitely advice I’d pass on to others on their first visit. Yorkshire Sculpture Park actually has several different sections, and if you don’t already know where everything is there’s a really good chance you’ll miss half the sculptures. The size of the park also allows you to go for a proper walk – we walked out to Longside Gallery and then took the circular route back to the centre of the park, and it felt like a proper woodland hike in the Dales.
Impression 4: The walk to Longside Gallery is worth it, if only for the ice cream
Longside Gallery is a 30-minute walk across a hilly field from the main bit of the park, but it’s worth making the journey. In the Gallery we found the other half of the KAWS exhibit, showcasing some bold graphic prints as well as more pieces from his sculpture collection that we would otherwise have missed. Another reason to drop by Longside is that the kiosk outside has much smaller queues than the main cafe, and sells Northern Bloc ice cream. Best pit stop ever.
Have you been to Yorkshire Sculpture Park? What did you think?