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James Turrell: Deer Shelter Skyspace

Country Park

In 2007, The Art Fund, the UK's leading art charity, commissioned a permanent Skyspace by James Turrell at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This was the first contemporary commission for The Art Fund and its most significant gift to the nation since The Burghers of Calais by Rodin in 1911.

Turrell is an artist of international acclaim, renowned as a 'sculptor of light'. For over 40 years he has used light and space to create art installations which extend and enhance perception - from indoor pieces which baffle the senses, creating an illusion of infinite diffused light, to outdoor Skyspaces.

James Turrell has created the Skyspace at YSP within the Park's 18th-century Grade II Listed building - the deer shelter. His work does not alter the shape of the landscape or disturb the tranquillity of the site, but creates a place of contemplation and revelation, harnessing the changing light of the Yorkshire sky. The Deer Shelter Skyspace consists of a large square chamber with an aperture cut into the roof. Through this aperture the visitor is offered a heightened vision of the sky, seemingly transformed into a trompe l'oeil painting.

'Look within yourself and welcome the light', was once the advice of James Turrell's Quaker grandmother, scarcely anticipating where it might lead him. Born in Los Angeles in 1943, Turrell was fascinated by flying and aircraft from an early age. He worked as a pilot before studying mathematics and perceptual psychology. His interest in optics and visual phenomena led him to the University of California where he started working with the medium of light to create art installations. Turrell is perhaps best known for his ambitious Roden Crater project in the Arizona desert. He has spent over 30 years transforming an entire extinct volcano into a series of 'skyspaces' that will harness the light from sun, moon and stars.

James Turrell has long been an admirer of the Yorkshire landscape and first proposed transforming YSP's disused deer shelter into a Skyspace in 1993 following an extended visit. The work contributes to YSP's growing international reputation for displaying significant contemporary art and sculpture.

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