The next edition of Yorkshire Sculpture International (YSI), the UK’s largest dedicated sculpture festival which launched last week across the county, is already in the pipeline.
The inaugural edition (22 June-29 September 2019) takes place across four partner venues: the Leeds-based Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, the Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The next edition is to be part of the new year-long cultural festival Leeds 2023.
“It has been announced as one of the main projects for Leeds 2023, and we are in the planning stages for the next iteration,” says Jane Bhoyroo, the festival producer, who is hopeful that YSI will continue at regular intervals after 2023.
This year’s event received £750,000 funding from Arts Council England. Bhoyroo believes that the local communities, the artists involved and the audiences — regional, national and international — all gain from the festival.
“This major collaborative project has enabled us to work together to share ideas and resources to develop our work with people locally and to reach new audiences internationally through the profile of the programme and associated marketing campaign,” Bhoyroo says.
She also points out that artists in Yorkshire are involved through the Associate Artist professional development programme. Five artists are showing new works at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the exhibition Associated Matter.
One of the most impressive aspects of the festival is the inclusion of international artists showing works for the first time in the UK.
“Importantly, YSI provides an international platform for emerging artists,” says Lisa Stansbie, the dean of Leeds Beckett University School of the Arts, which is supporting the initiative.
Toronto-born artist Tau Lewis is presenting a series of works made from discarded or donated textiles at Hepworth Wakefield, including a large-scale quilt entitled The Coral Reef Preservation Society (2019).
“Anything that gets art into the public eye is wonderful, but I'm not sure people can always connect with the contemporary works," says Steve Blaylock, a sculptor based in Harrogate.
Whether the festival can become an important fixture in the art calendar, like the renowned decennial Sculpture Projects Münster initiative in Germany, remains to be seen.
“YSI has facilitated lots of innovative events and projects,” Stansbie says.
“We’ve got an opportunity to expand and continue these so Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle [made up of the YSI venues] becomes recognised globally as a leading hub for sculpture, framed by the Yorkshire Sculpture International.”