Autumn brings in many changes; the leaves turn colour, nights get longer, we reach into the wardrobe for cosy layers and exhibitions end and new ones begin. This summer Wakefield’s world renowned galleries hosted two exhibitions that are must sees before they close with the change in the season.
Over the bridge of the River Calder lies The Hepworth Wakefield, whose cool, concrete structures played host to Viviane Sassen’s art photography during the blistering heatwave. Renowned photographer Viviane Sassen has worked within both fashion and fine art throughout her career to create outstanding images that take the familiar into the abstract. The exhibition, entitled ‘Hot Mirror’, is a survey of her career so far. Sassen has taken this images and displayed them in new ways to create “image-poems”. This way of curating creates new visual conversations between the images. The show is fittingly alongside an exhibition of ‘Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain’. This placement of the two exhibitions next to one another highlights the surrealist themes within Sassen’s work. Where Sassen has featured the human body, shadows and limbs merge to create the uncanny from recognisable form.
In works such as ‘Yellow Vlei’ (2014), Viviane Sassen creates photographs in which floating colour blocks merge with landscapes. In an intersection of line and colour within these images, two planes collide. At the center of the exhibition lies a mysterious cube through which sound oozes out and moves around the photographs at the periphery of the room. Sound is not neat or tidy, it does not contain itself to within one finite area. Therefore, when an installation involving sound is within a room it encounters other objects, outside its initial parameters and interacts with them. Lying within the darkened box is the installation ‘Totem’. Although it dates back to 2014, the exhibition presents a new version of the audiovisual work. ‘Totem’ is a psychedelic trip into surrealism. Giant wall mounted mirrors and projected photographs create new imagery out of the familiar. Sassen’s images, including giant landscapes move across mirrored planes to merge and form floating shapes. Recognisable shapes and objects within the landscape, such as mountains and sand, become akin to the ink blots used in the Rorschach test.
Just under 9 miles away from The Hepworth Wakefield lies the ground of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Open air sculptures and galleries lie within 500 acres of rolling green hills of the 18th Century Bretton Hall estate. Situated within the chapel that was part of the old estate is the site-specific installation by Chiharu Shiota. Using primarily white woollen thread, Shiota weaves magic within the silent walls of the building. The chapel would have once been full of music and Shiota traces the echoes of these past sounds as they would have bounced and resounded around the building. Each piece of thread could be a single note or single voice that has been heard within the chapel. At the core of the installation is a steel frame piano from which the strings emerge. Akin to most classical musical ensembles, the piano sits at the core of the work. This is a departure from Shiota’s previous work who usually works with red and black thread. Throughout her practice, Shiota works with human memory and relationships. In ‘Beyond Time’, she has harnessed the slippery subject of sonic memory and the role the chapel once had in bringing people together through music.
These two exhibitions showcase the creative work that is being seen in the North of England. If you make one journey to the North this autumn, make sure you past through The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror is at The Hepworth Wakefield until 7th October
Chiharu Shiota: Beyond Time is at Yorkshire Sculpture Park until 4th November