The much-anticipated Wakefield Sculpture Trail, which includes newly-commissioned and site-specific works, has been officially launched today (Friday July 21).
Actively supported by YSP, the trail starts at Wakefield Westgate train station and ends at The Hepworth Wakefield. It will provide visitors with the opportunity to experience and engage with world-class contemporary art right across the city centre.
Wakefield city is already a remarkable cultural destination which celebrates both historic and contemporary sculpture. The wider Wakefield district is also the birthplace of two of the most significant sculptors of the 20th century – Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth – both of whom drew upon their experience of the Yorkshire landscape throughout their careers.
Three of the six new works by Andy Holden, Annie Morris and Jason Wilsher-Mills have already taken up their new permanent homes at key points across the city, providing an opportunity to experience and engage with world-class contemporary art in the UK’s home of sculpture. The Gathering by Halima Cassell will be installed at Wakefield Westgate Station next week and The Source by Ro Robertson will be installed at The Springs in September, marking the completion of the trail.
Organised by Wakefield Council, the city centre public sculptures’ programme has been made possible thanks to a £1m investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), administered by Arts Council England (ACE), specifically to curate outdoor contemporary sculptures that animate the city centre. Wakefield Council drew upon YSP’s expertise in outdoor sculpture, commissioning us to support the process to select the five artists.
The sculpture trail forms part of the wider Wakefield City Centre Masterplan, which sets out how the city centre will be transformed into a vibrant city for the future.
We are so excited that the time has come for four out of the five sculptures on our free art trail to be installed. The trail will provide residents and visitors with the chance to experience world-class art, up close and personal, in the heart of the city.- Cllr Michelle Collins, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport
Having grown up in Wakefield and being inspired by the work of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth – and to be able to work in my home city at YSP – it’s a great privilege to be a part of this project. For young people to grow up with art in their lives is life changing.- Helen Pheby, Associate Director, Programme, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
The Artists and their Trail monuments
Andy Holden, The Auguries (Last Calls)
The first permanent public sculpture by Andy Holden (b. 1982, Bedford, UK) will take the form of a series of bronze structures that represent the songs of native birds with rapidly declining populations, including the Mistle Thrush, Skylark and Swift. Recordings of these bird songs have been translated into 3D wave forms and then cast in metal, acting as totems to remind the public of mankind’s ever-changing relationship with nature. People will also be able to listen to the individual bird songs via a QR code.
Annie Morris, Bronze Stack 9, Viridian Green
West Yorkshire History Centre
Taken from the artist’s distinctive ‘Stack’ series, the 11.5-foot bronze sculpture by Annie Morris (b. 1978, London, UK) will comprise a tall column of precariously arranged irregular spheres. The colour palette, including vivid blues, deep reds and vibrant greens, will reflect both the busy outdoor environment of the city but also the stunning natural landscape that surrounds Yorkshire, a great source of inspiration to Morris whilst preparing for her first institutional solo show at YSP in 2021.
Jason Wilsher-Mills, Amazonian Caiman God
Wakefield Cathedral Precinct
Jason Wilsher-Mills (b. 1969, Wakefield, UK) will present a new 6.5-foot bronze sculpture that in part explores his own personal connection to nearby Walton Hall, the former home of Charles Waterton, at which his parents met while his mother was working there as an auxiliary nurse. Wilsher-Mills’ sculpture will depict an Amazonian Caiman god holding a small ferry boat containing figures of his parents. The figure will be wearing leg callipers as a proud depiction of disability and a nod to the artist’s own experience of debilitating chicken pox in childhood that left him partially paralysed. Visitors will be able to engage further with the sculpture through augmented reality technology and QR codes, which will allow them to hear a new poem by poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan, created in response to the sculpture’s themes, as well as access an online animated film.
Halima Cassell, The Gathering
Wakefield Westgate Station
The hand-carved concrete sculpture The Gathering by Halima Cassell (b. 1975, Kashmir, Pakistan) will comprise five sculptural columns, each representing a figure. The work reflects the artist’s interest in the sculptor Barbara Hepworth and calls to mind Hepworth’s The Family of Man, whilst also combining Cassell’s distinctive geometric and architectural elements. Works from the The Family of Man series are on permanent display at both The Hepworth Wakefield and YSP. Cassell spent time studying Hepworth when commissioned by Wakefield Art Gallery in 2008 to create a piece to celebrate the new Hepworth Wakefield being built.
Ro Robertson, The Source
The Springs (Launches September 2023)
Ro Robertson’s (b. 1984, Sunderland, UK) The Source will take the form of a 20-metre-long sculptural walkway and garden. Taking visual inspiration from the movement of water, this ambitious new work will highlight local history and environmental factors, and connect with the subject of healing. It has been developed specifically for the site of The Springs, one of the main public transport and pedestrian routes through Wakefield, which was previously the site of freshwater springs. Until 1837, the sole sources of water in the city were springs, wells and streams, and the site would have been used as a daily watering hole and place of healing. Robertson has worked in collaboration with Katy Merrington (Cultural Gardener, The Hepworth Wakefield) to develop a planting plan selection that focusses on movement, structure, and sensory elements with the aim of providing a space where people can feel encompassed by nature.