This is my rather belated recap of the Blog North event on 12th May, postponed due to my week in Birmingham. There's something about writing important posts that requires me sat at my desk with a peculiar thinking-face on - so here I am.
I was fortunate enough to receive a free place on the event which involved trips to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield. As a person of limited means at the moment, it would've been difficult for me to gather money together to go to something when I had no idea what it would be like. Luckily, I can now recommend the experience to others so it was definitely worth it.
The day started off with a online writing workshop at the YSP in a nice converted hayloft. Complimented with cookies and a beverage it was a nice gentle start to the day which sparked some creativity in me at least. The group was a varied one, quite a lot of women but a nice broad age range. After the workshop we were given a tour of the current indoor exhibition at the YSP - the sculptor Joan Miró. I'll be perfectly honest here - I'd hadn't heard of him before seeing the itinerary for the day so I had no idea what to expect. I was very struck by the first piece we came across in the exhibition, though I haven't been able to locate a picture online because I can't remember the name of it! Nonetheless, Miró surprised me from the start. His work frequently contains everyday objects and this first one had quite a few common objects including a pitchfork and a towel. Throughout the exhibition we saw items scaled up from their everyday size and other things that just felt plain odd such as 'Fleeing Young Girl' which is a pair of mannequin legs topped with what looks like a stop-tap. While the objects together initially look rather ridiculous, I grew to appreciate Miró's toying with expectation as we proceeded around the exhibition. Our tour guide (I can't remember her name but she had a sore throat and did a very good job despite that) was certainly enthusiastic about her subject and that enthusiasm seemed to rub off on me a little. I came away from the tour with the desire to see the exhibition again and pay more attention to works we didn't have time to look at as a group. As well as that, I've since purchased a book (below) on Miró's life and work - I'll be delving into that before I go again. The exhibition's on for the rest of this year and a beautiful summer afternoon at the park doesn't seem so much of a chore.
We broke for lunch (I grabbed a gorgeous tuna salad wrap from the cafe) then reconvened for the second workshop of the day. This one focused on how to review art and was especially useful to me. On this blog I've only dabbled in reviewing things and a lot of my issues seemed to be replicated within the group - we were unsure of language, afraid of looking silly, aware that we found something unappealing but couldn't really describe why. I made a lot of notes during this workshop and hopefully I'll refer to them in the future. I certainly came away from it with a sense that I shouldn't be afraid of reviewing art any more, if that's what I want to do. I also shouldn't be afraid of having an opinion - as with literature if you don't like something you're allowed to say so provided you can give some semblance of a reason.
We got on the coach to The Hepworth Wakefield after this. I've been before but enjoyed it much more the second time around. This was possibly due again to the enthusiasm of our guides there. It helped that the gallery had just welcomed its 500,000th visitor early that day - there was a sense of giddiness about the place that was quite appealing. Since this visit, incidentally, the gallery has celebrated its first birthday and has been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize, which it's tipped to win. The walk around the gallery was pleasant enough, though my feet were hurting by this time. Following this, we returned downstairs and talked to each other (otherwise known as 'networking' but I hate that word).
So what did I get out of the day? I learned not to be scared of writing about things I may like. I learned that there are plenty of other bloggers in this region who enjoy similar things to me. I've grasped hold of a new artist that I want to know more about and I learned to appreciate the gallery on my own doorstep a little more. And I had a mean tuna salad wrap. Good day all in all.