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Thomas Houseago sculptures are coming to Yorkshire

04 Feb 2014

The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle recently won a bid to bring Thomas Houseago sculptures to Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, the partnership of Yorkshire’s four leading sculpture organisations, announced today that its bid to bring work by world renowned Yorkshire born sculptor Thomas Houseago to the region, as part of the Yorkshire Festival 2014, has been successful.

Houseago, who was born in Leeds and is now based in the Los Angeles, will exhibit two of his monumental sculptures across two sites in Yorkshire during the Tour de France this summer – the very first time a new work by Houseago has been exhibited in Yorkshire.

Spearheaded by the Henry Moore Institute, The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park – the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle’s submission was one of 50 successful bids to the Yorkshire Festival 2014, the world’s first cultural festival to run during the build up to the Tour de France in Yorkshire. Established to position Yorkshire as the cultural heartland of the UK, the Yorkshire Festival 2014 runs for 100 days from 27 March to 6 July 2014.

The ‘Thomas Houseago win’ is a major component of the Yorkshire Festival 2014 and a coup for the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle,  which will attract national and international attention for the region.   The bid was a joint initiative by the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle partners who are located less than 20 miles apart from each other.  The positioning of these two Houseago sculptures across two of the YST sites will provide an opportunity to celebrate Yorkshire creativity and a platform for one of the nation’s finest contemporary sculptors to exhibit alongside the major names of 20th and 21st century sculpture.

Thomas Houseago, renowned for his diverse and monumental works, will exhibit in two diverse locations.  The first sculpture will be placed within Leeds city centre, on a plinth outside Leeds Art Gallery on the Headrow where Le Grand Départ will begin in Yorkshire on 5 July.  The second sculpture will be placed in the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in West Bretton, near Wakefield, offering an alternative cultural day out to the festivities of the Tour de France.  The works will be unveiled at the end of April 2014.

Houseago’s work is best known for its colossal proportions with pieces regularly topping three metres. His sculptures are often cited as being ‘hulking’ and depicting giant dishevelled figures with mythical proportions.  Houseago’s inspirations range from Darth Vader, Jacob Epstein and African art, through to his experience of growing up in Yorkshire and the legacy of Leeds’ culture and local imagery.   The sculpture on the Headrow is a new work – a gargantuan and striding figure reflecting the frenetic bustle of this urban landscape.  Yorkshire Sculpture Park will present a second Houseago sculpture, an owl’s head cast in bronze on a redwood plinth, reflecting the artist’s interest in natural forms and forces and echoing the symbol of Leeds.

Houseago’s work is both intriguing and provocative, and the creation and journey of these works will be recorded in film and used to communicate and build the anticipation of the works’ arrival in Yorkshire.  The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle will be devising a wide-ranging learning programme for all age groups to explore the context, making and experience of these major works.

Born in 1972, Houseago studied art at Jacob Kramer Foundation College (now Leeds College of Art) and London’s Central Saint Martins College, and eventually moved to Los Angeles where he is now based.  Previous exhibitions include Storm King Art Centre, New York; Galleria Borghese, Rome (2013); The Centre International d’Art et du Paysage de l’Ile de Vassivière, Vassivière; Museum Abteiberg (2011), Modern Art Oxford (2010), S.M.A.K., Ghent (2003) and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1996).

In 2013, Houseago said ‘Yorkshire is the root of my creativity’, an assertion this commission celebrates and shares with the region.