I have been to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park many times throughout my childhood, having grown up in West Yorkshire. Over the years I’ve seen different exhibits come and go in an ever changing display of talent from artists all around the world – all happening just a few miles from home! It’s been a few years since I’ve visited the park but after finding out about the latest edition to its collection I knew I would be back soon.
“This is the first UK museum exhibition of work by the renowned American artist KAWS, whose wide ranging practice includes painting, sculpture, graphic design, toys and prints. The expansive Longside Gallery features the artist’s large, bright, graphic canvases immaculately rendered in acrylic paint, alongside towering sculptures in fibreglass and wood. The historically designed landscape of YSP becomes home to a series of monumental and imposing sculptures in KAWS’s trademark style – nostalgic characters in the process of growing up.” – YSP.
The first set of KAWS characters are out on the lower field, near to the main car park. They won’t be very hard to miss because they tower over the whole landscape. In fact the sheer scale of the characters is hard to imagine unless you’re stood looking up at them. They overshadow the people below, which makes you feel pretty small in comparison. Each character brings its own story with it, whether that be a child KAWS figure hiding behind its parents’ leg or the figure sat with a melancholic look on its face after having broken its nose. It’s up to your own imagination to interpret the story that is being told right in front of you. The fact that it deals with issues of childhood speaks to you on a personal level, which makes the works even more appealing as it is relatable in some way.
If you want a taster of the KAWS exhibit then I feel the seven figures on the lower field are enough. However, if you’re itching for more (like I was) then you can make the journey up the hill to the Longside Gallery – considering you’re prepared for the walk. In this gallery you are allowed to take photos but you can’t touch the pieces out of respect and to avoid the risk of damaging them. The KAWS characters up here take on a different appearance. They have a range of designs that incorporate colours that pop and give off a retro aesthetic. They are a nice accompaniment as well as a contrast to the other characters. My personal favourite in this gallery being the one holding the two little babies!
It was my personal mission to get a photo with each of the KAWS characters during my visit. To make sure that I got to see every single one of them. If you’re now inspired to see the quirky characters for yourself, then you can still catch the collection as it is running until the 12th June at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I would totally recommend going to see the exhibit, it’s a fun way to spend the day and appreciate some art by a really talented artist!