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First details of Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019 programme announced

22 June – 29 September 2019

Release date: Wednesday, 19 September 2018

- Two major new public commissions in the city centres of Leeds and Wakefield announced.

- Leading international artists confirmed as part of the programme including Huma Bhabha, Ayşe Erkmen, Rashid Johnson, Wolfgang Laib, Tau Lewis, David Smith and Nobuko Tsuchiya.

- Associate Artist scheme launches today - five Yorkshire-based artists will be awarded grants of £7,500 to make new work.

Yorkshire Sculpture International today announces the first details of its inaugural programme. The UK’s largest sculpture festival will take place across Leeds and Wakefield from 22 June until 29 September 2019, and will present sculpture by artists from across the world.

A celebration of sculpture in all its forms, Yorkshire Sculpture International is presented by four world-renowned cultural institutions based in Leeds and Wakefield - the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

This first festival builds upon Yorkshire’s rich history as the birthplace of pioneering sculptors, including Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, and as the home of this unique consortium of galleries and celebrated sculpture collections.

Reflecting the curatorial theme put forward by British artist Phyllida Barlow that ‘sculpture is the most anthropological of the artforms’ the free 100-day festival responds to the idea that there is a basic human impulse to make and connect with objects, and the programme will explore what it means to create sculpture today.

The free 100-day festival will feature major new commissions in city centre locations; Ayşe Erkmen will make a new site-specific work for Leeds and Huma Bhabha will be presenting her first UK public commission in Wakefield.

Work by leading international artists, including newly commissioned work and key sculptures from their careers, will be exhibited at the four partner galleries. These include Rashid Johnson (Henry Moore Institute), Wolfgang Laib and Tau Lewis (The Hepworth Wakefield), David Smith (Yorkshire Sculpture Park) and Nobuko Tsuchiya (Leeds Art Gallery).

“With new commissions in city centres and exhibitions in world-renowned galleries, Yorkshire Sculpture International will be a major new addition to the cultural calendar in a region whose cultural and sporting prowess is drawing the attention of increasing numbers of national and international visitors.”

Jane Bhoyroo, Producer, Yorkshire Sculpture International

There will be an extensive public engagement programme that will support artistic talent development in the region and introduce new audiences to sculpture. People of all ages will have the opportunity to connect with sculpture, inspiring them to think about, talk about, and make sculpture.

Yorkshire-based artists are integral to the project and five artists working in sculpture will be supported through Yorkshire Sculpture International’s Associate Artist Programme which will award grants of £7,500 for selected artists to develop their practice. Expressions of interest for participating in the programme open today (19 September). In addition, opening for submissions today is an opportunity for ten artists from Yorkshire to be part of the festival’s Engagement Programme, creating collaborative work with schools and communities.

“Yorkshire Sculpture International promises to offer an exciting programme of commissions and exhibitions that will give visitors an opportunity to experience new work by artists from Yorkshire, the UK and across the world. It is a venture that builds on the strengths of the collaborating institutions and the success of their programmes in reaching new audiences across the region.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England

Further details

Rashid Johnson is one of the artists at the Henry Moore Institute who will be realising new commissions. The exhibition examines the responsibilities of objects. Within the trajectory and methods of anthropology lie the foundation of history and all social sciences. All objects can play a pivotal role within that framework, functioning as black boxes that absorb much about our existence while perpetuating mistruth. In short, they have a lot to answer for. The Institute’s exhibition brings together an assimilation of anthropological debates around the responsibility of tangible forms in understanding human behaviour, human history and what it means to create objects today.

For Yorkshire Sculpture International, Leeds Art Gallery will present new work by a selection of artists including Nobuko Tsuchiya responding to Phyllida Barlow’s provocation. The world-class sculpture collection will be installed throughout the galleries including major new acquisitions which will be displayed for the first time.

The Hepworth Wakefield will stage a series of new commissions and debut UK presentations by established and emerging artists from around the world. For the first time, all the public spaces within the David Chipperfield-designed building will be used with the exhibition unfolding as a series of encounters across the whole gallery, interacting with The Hepworth Wakefield’s remarkable collection of modern British art.

It will bring together artists of different generations who share with both Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore an intense interest in harnessing the cultural histories and physical properties of the materials they use - from an expansive installation by German sculptor Wolfgang Laib to new work by Jamaican-Canadian artist Tau Lewis.

Important sculptures and works on paper in Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Underground Gallery and the open air will show the development of David Smith’s sculptural practice, including previously unseen artefacts from Smith’s home. Smith aligned himself to an anthropological trajectory, embracing the creative continuity that connects humanity across millennia, connecting to an ancient tradition of making and fettling. This exhibition examines the immediacy of his sculpture; its sometimes obdurate, sometimes tactile nature; its shared space with man, machine, and natural forms; and the social/human impulse through which Smith developed abstraction from the automotive factory and foundry.

Further details about Yorkshire Sculpture International will be announced in early 2019.

Press Contact

Alice Clifford | | +44 (0) 203 463 2087

Hannah Vitos | | +44 (0) 203 470 0092

Notes to Editors

About Yorkshire Sculpture International

Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019 is curated by Andrew Bonacina (Chief Curator, The Hepworth Wakefield), Sarah Brown (Principal Keeper, Leeds Art Gallery), Clare Lilley (Director of Programme, Yorkshire Sculpture Park) and Laurence Sillars (Head of Programmes, Henry Moore Institute), Jane Bhoyroo (Producer, Yorkshire Sculpture International) and Meghan Goodeve (Engagement Curator, Yorkshire Sculpture International).

Yorkshire Sculpture International has raised more than £1.4 million, including a National Lottery funded Ambition for Excellence grant from Arts Council England and regional investment from Leeds 2023, Wakefield Council, Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds.

The Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute welcomes everyone to experience, study and enjoy sculpture. Open seven days a week, the Institute is free to all. It is an international research centre located in the vibrant city of Leeds, where Henry Moore began his training as a sculptor. In its iconic building it hosts a year-round changing programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions presenting sculpture from across the world. Each year it hosts over a hundred powerful discussions, bringing the brightest thinkers together to share ideas. The Institute is a hub for sculpture, connecting a global network of artists and scholars. As a part of the Henry Moore Foundation, an independent arts charity, it is the Institute’s mission to bring people together to think about why sculpture matters.

Leeds Art Gallery

Leeds Art Gallery offers dynamic temporary exhibitions and a world-class collection of modern British art. Founded in 1888, the gallery has designated collections of 19th and 20th century British art widely considered to be the best outside the national collections. The collection represents the development of English modernism shown through key works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Jacob Epstein. Leeds Art Gallery through a partnership with the Henry Moore Institute, has built one of the strongest collections of British sculpture in the country and confirmed Leeds’s status as an international centre for the study and appreciation of sculpture. The Leeds Sculpture Collection comprises over 1,000 objects, 400 works on paper and the Henry Moore Institute Archive of over 270 collections of papers relating to sculptors.

The Hepworth Wakefield

Designed by the acclaimed David Chipperfield Architects, The Hepworth Wakefield is set within Wakefield’s historic waterfront, overlooking the River Calder. The gallery opened in May 2011 and has already welcomed almost 2 million visitors and been awarded Art Fund

Museum of the Year 2017. Named after Barbara Hepworth, one of the most important artists of the 20th century who was born and brought up in Wakefield, the gallery presents major exhibitions of the best international modern and contemporary art. It is also home to Wakefield’s art collection - an impressive compendium of modern British and contemporary art - and has dedicated galleries exploring Hepworth’s art and working process.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is the leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017. An independent charitable trust and registered museum (number 1067908) situated in the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire. Founded in 1977 by Executive Director Peter Murray CBE, YSP was the first sculpture park in the UK, and is the largest of its kind in Europe, providing the only place in Europe to see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety alongside a significant collection of sculpture, including bronzes by Henry Moore, and site-specific works by Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and James Turrell. YSP was named Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2014.

About the artists

Working almost entirely in figurative sculpture, Huma Bhabha’s (b.1962 Karachi, Pakistan) approach is unconventional and cross-cultural, making connections between histories, languages and civilizations. Assembled and carved from everyday materials like Styrofoam packaging, cork, clay and plaster, Bhabha’s work has a timeless quality and her practice is a meditation on new ways of approaching the tactile challenges of sculpture-making. Her work draws on wide-ranging influences that include ancient vocabularies, to Picasso, Giacometti, Daumier and German Neo-Expressionists; and the sci-fi dystopias of Philip K. Dick. Bhabha has exhibited widely, including the acclaimed “We Come in Peace,” for the Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (2018), “Greater New York” at MoMA PS1 New York (2015-16), the 2015 Venice Biennale, the 2012 Paris Triennial; and the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Huma Bhabha lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York, USA

Ayşe Erkmen’s (b. 1949, Istanbul, Turkey) sculptural practice transforms environments as she responds to a particular place through eye catching site-specific interventions that draw our attention to locations and things that are often overlooked or hidden. Erkmen’s work is influenced by the historical, cultural, political and geographical significance of a particular place often incorporating the architectural features of those locations as part of her works. Erkmen realised a major commission for Skulpture Projekte Münster in 2017 and represented Turkey at the Venice Biennale in 2011. Erkmen has created public realm commissions in many places across the world, most recently in Ghent (2017) and Washington (2015). Erkmen lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey.

Rashid Johnson’s (b.1977, Chicago, USA) work explores themes of art history, literature, philosophy and personal and cultural identity. His practice embraces a broad range of media including painting, drawing, filmmaking and installation, and employs a wide variety of materials and images, including masks, houseplants and shea butter, to examine issues of roots, race and identity in black America. His work has been shown internationally, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012), Venice Biennale (2011) and the National Portrait Gallery, London (2018). Johnson lives and works in New York, NY, USA.

Wolfgang Laib (b. 1950 Metzingen, Germany) creates large-scale, process-based installations using natural materials such as milk, pollen, rice, wax and marble. Inspired by teachings of the ancient Taoist philosopher Laozi, Laib's sculptural compositions employ the basic forms of the cone, the rectangle or the house in order to focus the viewer's attention on their innate material qualities. Laib's work has been exhibited at MoMA (2013), The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (2003) and he has previously represented Germany at the Venice Biennale (1982). In 2015, Laib was awarded the Praemium Imperiale. Laib lives and works between Hochdorf, Germany, New York and India.

Tau Lewis (b. 1993, Toronto, Canada) will be presenting a newly commissioned installation as part of Yorkshire Sculpture International. Lewis’ self-taught practice works to assuage historical traumas and investigate black identity, agency, memory and its recovery. Her work is constructed through a combination of hand sewing and assemblage of found objects to create portraits, which take on both human and organic forms. The presentation at The Hepworth Wakefield will be her first exhibition outside of North America. Her work has been shown at MoMA PS1 (2017) and Atlanta Contemporary (2018). Lewis lives and works in Toronto.

David Smith (1906-1965, b. Indiana, USA) was the first American artist to work with welded metal and was hugely influential to the development of international abstract sculpture. Smith is regarded as the principal sculptor of the American Abstract Expressionists - with few works in non-US public collections, he is rarely seen or shown in Europe and the inclusion of his work as part of YSI, is the most significant project since Tate Modern’s in 2006. The exhibition will include works and artefacts from Smith’s Bolton Landing home in Upstate New Work which have not previously been seen.

Nobuko Tsuchiya (b. 1972 Yokohama, Japan) studied at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work incorporates found household objects including mop buckets, table legs, rags and plastic tubing. Her enigmatic sculptures resemble minimalist mechanisms devoid of function, primitive robots, or curious experiments. Tsuchiya approaches her materials as repositories of memory and experience, as well as signifiers of the future; “I treat these physical and imaginative aspects equally, combining and recombining them until I’m able to construct a story embedded within an object”. Tsuchiya has exhibited internationally, most recently at SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo (2018). Tsuchiya lives and works in Japan.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries - from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Comments (1)

matthew Houlding

4 May 2019 22:04

Shouldn't the Yorkshire Sculpture International be hosting a site to publicise and include smaller galleries across the region which are also showing work at this time. Studio 2 in Todmorden, (, is a small gallery which focuses on solo shows by local and national artists, will be opening a show of new work by George Meyrick. One of the difficulties of being a small venue, out of the city, is getting numbers of people to see the work. I would have hoped that one of the purposes of a Yorkshire Sculpture International would be to be inclusive and supportive of individual initiative which promote the arts outside of the main names. I am disappointed in the ambition shown.

Alison Parry

Alison Parry | Marketing & Communications Manager (Hertfordshire), Henry Moore Studios & Gardens

7 May 2019 12:42

Dear Matthew, Thank you for getting in touch. As well as bringing a range of international sculpture to Yorkshire, YSI is doing a great deal to support talent in the region, including offering associate artist opportunities and an engagement programme (working with local schools, universities and marginalised groups). You can find out full details at: There will also be a fringe festival - unfortunately the deadline for submissions has passed: This is the inaugural festival. Please join the YSI mailing list to be kept up to date with future opportunities and help to shape the involvement of smaller arts organisations: Best wishes.

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