For our sixth podcast series we have partnered with Yorkshire Sculpture Park exploring our seasonal theme of Elemental Compositions through the work of six of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists working today.
Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, Yorkshire Sculpture Park ignites and nurtures interest in contemporary art and sculpture, celebrating some of the world’s leading artists with year-round exhibitions alongside over 80 permanent outdoor works from artists including Barbara Hepworth, Phyllida Barlow, Ai Weiwei, Sol LeWitt, and Andy Goldsworthy.
Join writer and broadcaster Laura Barton as she journeys across the country for wide-ranging conversations with Kedisha Coakley, Tania Kovats, David Nash, Heather Peak, Saad Qureshi and Ro Robertson. With each episode, we discover how the energy of the surrounding environment combined with a unique patchwork of lived experiences and memories informs their practice.
“A lot of my sculpture plays between the two fields of arts and crafts and fine art – what is it and who decides?”
Kedisha was the recipient of YSP’s Yorkshire Graduate Award in 2020, offering recent graduates a residency and opportunity to reflect and move forward with their practice. Working with sculpture, photography and printmaking, she reconsiders objects, symbols and patterns in relation to race and culture. In this episode Kedisha speaks about the joy of learning as a mature student and mother of two and her desire to decolonise the landscape.
“Because we’re land-based creatures we prioritise the land and often forget how important the health of the sea is to our survival.”
Exploring her relationship with the environment, Tania works across sculpture, drawing, writing and installation. Bodies of water are a key area of focus and she has referenced oceans, rivers and changing coastal rock formations in her artworks. Her 2010 work Ravine is sited in the woodland at YSP and creates the appearance of a rock that has been broken apart. Tania meets Laura in London to discuss her preoccupation with nature and how it infiltrates her work.
“You focus on the process and let the result look after itself, so the eventual aesthetic is there really at the beginning with the materials which one is using.”
In a chapel in north Wales, David Nash keeps a collection of his sculptures that span the years and geography of his career – hewn wooden structures reflecting his strong connection to trees, which he has spent much of his artistic life studying. David speaks about his craft, the role of colour, and why he encourages people to touch his sculptures.
“It doesn’t belong to the artist, it’s something that’s created so that we can share in it together.”
For over 15 years Heather Peak and Ivan Morison have collaborated on projects that draw together art, architecture, nature, and performance. They created Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds (2021) in partnership with the Oak Project. The installation at YSP invites visitors to stop and connect, to consider and to listen to their natural surroundings. Heather invites Laura aboard her sculptural narrow boat, which is the couple’s most recent project.
“I was born into a religious household and the idea of paradise really formed the backdrop of my family life. It was a concept that was always there.”
Saad is an avid gatherer of stories. In developing his exhibition Something About Paradise (2020) he travelled around the country asking those with and without faith what paradise means to them. He interpreted these descriptions of indistinct and imagined places into physical installations. Meeting Saad at his Oxford studio, Laura speaks to him about his family’s background in tailoring and how this has been a lasting influence on his work along with his major exhibition at YSP.
“I was thinking of the materials and how we use characteristics of nature to help describe ourselves, our identities.”
Ro’s practice spans sculpture, photography, drawing and performance, mediums through which they explore the boundaries of the human body and its environment. In 2019 they were chosen as one of Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s five associate artists and paired with the Hepworth Wakefield to create a body of work titled Stone (Butch). Encounter their work in the Summer of Love (21 June – 22 September 2022) at YSP.
The episodes are presented by Laura Barton and produced by Geoff Bird. Music for this season was composed and performed by Cosmo Sheldrake for TOAST Slow Sound. All views expressed in the podcast are the interviewees own and not necessarily those of TOAST.
For more information about current and upcoming exhibitions, see YSP. David Nash’s current exhibition Full Circle is on view until 5 June at YSP, marking a forty year relationship between artist and organisation.
Top image: David Nash, Black Mound, 2013. Courtesy of the artist, installation view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photograph © Jonty Wilde.
Portraits of Kedisha Coakley, Saad Qureshi and Ro Robertson by Camilla Greenwell.
Portrait of Tania Kovats by Thierry Bal.
Image of Tania Kovats, RAVINE, 2010. Courtesy of the artist, installation view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photograph © Camilla Greenwell.
Image of David Nash in his drawing studio, 2022. Photograph © Jonty Wilde.
Image of Heather Peak courtesy of the artist.
Podcast page image: Tania Kovats, RAVINE, 2010. Courtesy of the artist, installation view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photograph © Camilla Greenwell.