I think Yorkshire is a very creative county, but there’s art and there’s art. Contemporary art seems to dominate Leeds at the moment, I like to think I’m quite open minded and able to see something good in most things. Sadly a lot of what I saw just made me shudder and laugh at the pretentiousness of it all. One of Leed’s famous sons is Damian Hirst, (Although he was actually born in Bristol). His work is being showcased across the city this year, but in all honesty I’d rather it wasn’t. One of my favourite phrases is “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”
But each to his own, you might think differently. I saw several of the sculptures around town but I don’t consider them worthy of gracing my pages. What I did like about the art in Leeds, is that it is all so accessible. The museums and galleries are free entry and interesting and even though I considered a lot of what I saw a waste of space. I was glad there were no obstacles to me coming back to look closer. And I will admit I did like the juxtaposition of the sheep in formaldehyde standing in a room full of old oils.
Funnily enough most people ignored it, whilst I enjoyed watching the people. There was one piece I liked in the Leeds Art Gallery, a human form created by Anthony Gormley. The Brick Man was a scaled down model of the 180 feet version submitted as part of the regeneration for Leeds railway station. It was to be hollow allowing people inside, sadly it didn’t get planning permission.
Next door to the LAG was the Henry Moore institute which I was really looking forward to seeing. But alas, it was full of installation exhibitions by other artists which left me cold, including a room with 3 trestle tables holding blocks of Shea butter, 2 were “representative”, 1 was “interactive.” I tentatively stuck my finger into the greasy mess and made my mark.. then I went off dutifully to wash my hands before I got a bill for millions for having touched something I didn’t realise was art.
This one, by the way, was one of the artists efforts and not to be touched…..
As I said not all of the art around Leeds was rubbish. This outdoor installation was a representation of flying birds made of of plastic milk bottles. I liked this one.
But the very best and most enjoyable were the animated Dinosaurs lurking in various shopping centres for the summer season.
Eric and I obtained our Jurassic trail card and dutifully tracked down all five of the monsters and got our stickers and stamps. We like art that is interactive and touchable and these marketing gimmick dinosaurs are no less worthy than Damian Hirsts obscenities. Yet for all my inability to comprehend a lot of what I saw, I still consider our stay in Leeds to have been enjoyable and thought provoking. Having got the ball rolling
I am happy to say I remain open minded and am willing to look at most things.