Background to 'Sculpt' 2019


Seven international and innovative artists are creating individual and unique, site-specific sculptures for rural churches on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Sculpt is a major new free art event taking place from 25th May to 21st September 2019 in seven churches centred on Masham, near Ripon in North Yorkshire showing dramatic art in sacred spaces.

The treasure hunt of discovery offers visitors a dramatic experience with the display of modern sculpture against the ancient space of the historic and traditional church buildings. The trail of seven churches is easily accessible from the A1 and close to the cathedral city of Ripon.

The beautifully located churches of North Stainley, West Tanfield, Well, Snape, Masham, Healey and Mickley will each have a site-specific artwork installed by a top international artist. Exciting, theatrical, family-friendly and perhaps shocking installations will be found in each church, whilst also offering art for everybody in rural communities off-the-beaten track. It offers all the ingredients for an enriching, educational and stimulating visit to buildings that form an essential part of the fabric of British culture, but that are often neglected or ignored. Along the trail, there are long views across the Vale of York, winding roads through rolling countryside and then the rugged landscape of the Swinton Park Estate. Visitors can add to their day by stopping off at one of the welcoming country pubs, tea rooms or cafes along the route.

A small, enthusiastic local group have selected seven inspirational artists to answer the brief ‘A Response to Space’. They have been asked to deliver drama, work on a large-scale, install captivating sculptures that everyone can understand and show how contemporary art can take centre stage and engage through the audacity of the work. Artists are finding it increasingly difficult to find free or inexpensive venues to exhibit their art. A rural, under-utilised and characterful village church fits the bill, allowing accessibility to modern art for both local residents, people who live in nearby cities and tourists. Developing cultural events in the countryside is enriching the community culturally and economically, whilst at the same time adding to the vibrancy of the villages and small market town in which they are located.

Art in the Churches is a new initiative to re-engage with churches through the introduction of cultural events. It is supported by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who is taking the position of patron. As well as offering opportunities for education and community involvement, there is also a treasure hunt to engage children at each venue. Sculpt is dramatic art, not passive, and this is the first event of its kind in the UK. It takes place at the same time as Yorkshire Sculpture International, making Yorkshire the top destination for sculpture in the UK in 2019.

This art project has been made possible with the generous support of the Arts Council, the Jerusalem Trust, All Churches Trust, Skipton Hire Centres and the Himalayan Garden.

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