Claire Barclay, Becky Beasley and Karla Black's Structure & Material, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

By Ben Miller | 01 April 2011
A photo of sculpted material floating in the air inside a gallery
Karla Black, Unused to (2007). Mixed media. ACC, Southbank Centre, London© Karla Black
Exhibition: Structure and Material, Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, until June 26 2011
The shadow of Barbara Hepworth may still loom large over female sculpture in Yorkshire.

This show takes her suggestion that “art is anonymous”, denying any relationship between gender and creativity, as a contentious starting point for pieces by Claire Barclay, Becky Beasley and Karla Black, a hugely talented emerging trio whose works have been snapped up by the Arts Council.

A photo of a long black folded sculpture
Becky Beasley, Infirme (2004-6). ACE collection© Becky Beasley
Black, a Glasgow experimentalist who counts Vaseline, clothing and flour among her materials for spooky, floating tableaux, sounds almost diametrically opposed to Hepworth’s argument.

“While there are ideas about psychological and emotional developmental processes held within the sculptures I make, the things themselves are actual physical explorations into thinking, feeling, communicating and relating,” she says, defining her ethos as being “rooted in psychoanalysis and feminism” alongside theories on violence, sexuality, neuroses, art history and plenty more besides.

A photo of a sculpture of black shapes framing lengths of material inside a gallery
Claire Barclay,Quick Slow (2010). ACE Collection© Claire Barclay
“They are parts of an ongoing learning, or search for understanding, through a material experience that has been prioritised over language.

“The finished work has a looseness and messiness that is allowed to exist within an overall attempt at simplicity, purity, cleanness or smoothness.”

These are sculptures in mysterious forms, illustrating the shared sense of fragility and instability the artists foster.

Beasley has made delicate, hand-printed photographs of mute objects and brass-hinged woodworks, and Barclay sets traditional textiles such as soft leather and wool against the industrial sheen of brass spikes and gimlet steel rods.

Even if she was dubious about some of the philosophies underpinning them, their unsettling beauty would undoubtedly impress Hepworth.

  • Open 11am-4pm. Admission free.
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