Press Story

William Darrell: Restless Bulbs and Rotting Goodness Selfridges Art Block X Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Grounded in place, peering out at what we can. The Earth pulses with emerging vegetation, our windows become our personal wildlife documentaries. Blossom explodes along branches and bulbs shoot leaves and flowers, all with seemingly more vigour than we have while stuck in our homes. Our dormant bodies will have to be patient longer but there is only so long that screens can distract us from our natural need for real life. So, we nurture optimistic plans for our emergence. All the while nature envelopes previously unwelcome territory, an accidental healing process brought on by our absence. Now the time is near... or is it... yes, it is... maybe... as excitement builds, we can barely be contained. Hairs raised, eyes out on stalks, tasting the air. William Darrell, Spring 2021

We are delighted to highlight the latest collaboration with Selfridges, London, as part of the series of Art Block projects co-curated by Helen Pheby, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) Head of Curatorial Programme. William Darrell was the first recipient of the YSP/RCA Graduate Award initiative in 2015 and this project is his most significant commission to date. Illustrative of Darrell’s mesmerising and highly innovative kinetic sculpture, the Art Block is now inhabited by seemingly ever-growing blooms alongside an undulating worm – representing the life force beneath our feet and of the planet itself – a hopeful testament to its resilience. Fabricated with environmentally-friendly materials and processes, the main installation is complemented by a sculptural window display featuring fungus and moving bees.

Art Block is Selfridges’ permanent destination dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary sculpture. Designed in collaboration with David Chipperfield as part of the transformation of the Accessories Hall on Duke Street, it was launched in 2018 in collaboration with YSP. The latest – and fifth – artist to exhibit, William Darrell’s practice is informed by biology, evolution and the laws of physics. The new work is a mind- bending kinetic piece, crafted from recycled plastic, that is a botanical metaphor, comparing perennial plant life in its dormant state with the lockdown experience. The colourful and kinetic flower-like sculptures mounted on real soil, are symbolic of humans resurfacing from lockdown, impacted by the experience yet springing back to life.

Helen Pheby says “it’s always a joy to collaborate with Selfridges, whose commitment to supporting artists and sharing their work with as many people as possible aligns fundamentally with YSP’s core mission.”

The project is part of Super Culture – Selfridges’ ambitious autumn 2021 arts programme, led by a series of cultural experiences at its London store and at “Culture and creativity are at the heart of Selfridges’ DNA. It’s what helps drive us forward and infuses everything we do. The importance of culture and the richness it brings to our lives has never been so vital. With this in mind, we’re delighted to launch Super Culture - a new programme of events, films, installations and experiences, celebrating the most exciting ideas in the arts, both online and in store.” says Hannah Emslie, Selfridges Creative Director of the London store’s new initiative.