Enough of your Shoreditch private viewings, your London art ‘happenings’ and those hefty admission fees: tha needs t’go up narth and get some art!
During my Christmas holidays at home in West Yorkshire I realised how little appreciation cultural establishments in the North get compared to their southern counterparts.
The West Yorkshire Sculpture Park mixed peat with Henry Moores and sheep dung with Barbara Hepworths. At Tate Liverpool I was treated to the conversion of one gallery into a silent disco, complete with glitter ball, priceless works of art and a middle-aged lady dancing her heart out on the disco floor. This was an art experience I knew I would never get in the galleries of London I had so long looked forward to being near as a college student.
I remember some years ago an article in the Guardian by some London-centric journalist bemoaning the large amount of funding being given to the arts up North. The argument was that more people are in London and therefore that’s where the art needs to be.
Even though at this time I was more interested in rolling down the grass hills of the West Yorkshire Sculpture Park than viewing the art placed among them, the journalist’s argument got me angry: Why, I wondered, did this person think I didn’t deserve such things?
It still seems extraordinary this divide between North and South for two main reasons:
1) Because I love both places and such a ‘divide’ is ridiculous.
2) Because I feel this divide quite strongly at times.
And yet, something always pulls me back home. The title of a TV drama filmed some 10minutes walk from my home sums it up really: Home is Where the Heart Is. Much like that drama, however, the North soon seems too homely, too safe and too picturesque (all things I had been looking forward to on the train ride up.)
This Christmas I finally realised my enviable position of being able to rise above those who think culture doesn’t exist above Watford Gap and those who think leaving the Pennines is tantamount to killing your Gran. Things happen outside of your village, your town, city or street, and they need to be explored.
I have a vivid memory of being sat on a bus at home on my first trip back from university with some former high school friends who purposefully sat behind me. They murmured to each other “Gone down South he ‘as. Lost his roots.” But I’d just like to say; much like the sculptures of Castleford-born Henry Moore that are now placed in the galleries of London- you can take the boy out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take the Yorkshire out of the boy.
1- Henry Moore at West Yorkshire Sculpture Park
2-Barbara Hepworth at West Yorkshire Sculpture Park
3- View of Colne Valley
4- Sophie Ryder- one of many hares Ryder has produced over the years for West Yorkshire Sculpture Park.