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Art without walls: an Alternative wool experience at Britain’s first dedicated sculpture park

Amanda Peach, Retail Programme Development Manager at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photo © Jonty Wilde

Amanda Peach is Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s (YSP) Retail Programme and Product Development Manager which means she works closely with some of the UK’s leading artists and designers to create exhibitions, events, showcases and product ranges, as well as selecting products for the YSP’s curated retail spaces.  Amanda, together with the artist  Ella Doran and Alternative Flooring have created an alternative wool experience at the sculpture park.

 

Spread over 500 acres of fields, hills, woodland, lakes and formal gardens, this open-air gallery has featured the who’s who of renowned sculptors from Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, to Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor. YSP owes its origins to a pioneering lecturer Peter Murray who proposed siting sculpture in the estate, and opening the landscape to the public for the first time, as well as providing artists with the opportunity to explore sculpture in the open air. This daring decision saw the creation of the UK’s first sculpture park, and one which continues to champion modern and contemporary art over 42 years later.

 

The Weston at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Courtesy Feilden Fowles and YSP. Photo © Peter Cook

 

Amanda tells us more in our Q&A

 

IT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS ONE OF THE FINEST EXAMPLES OF ART IN THE LANDSCAPE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR YOU?

Being part of YSP is very special. I’ve been here for 20 years and have witnessed its growth from a small-scale organisation to one of international reputation, with award-winning buildings and shops that now attract almost half a million visitors each year. I have loved working with some of the best artists and designers, but I have particular fondness for my very first solo show artist, Rob Ryan. He worked with us in 2009, and we continue to have a great working relationship with him to this day.

 

Rob Ryan, Can We? Shall We? 2010. Courtesy the artist.

 

LIKE ALTERNATIVE FLOORING, YSP HAS WON A NUMBER OF AWARDS, WHAT STANDS OUT FOR YOU?

Having worked on the furniture selection and interior design of the new shop and restaurant at The Weston – YSP’s new visitor centre – it’s great to be shortlisted for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize which recognises Britain’s best building. It was also great to be nominated for The British Design Awards with Elle Decoration in 2011 and to win the Best Independent Retailer Award in both 2012 and 2013.

 

The Weston at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Courtesy Feilden Fowles and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

 

HOW DID YOU HEAR OF ALTERNATIVE FLOORING AND HOW DID THAT RELATIONSHIP BEGIN?

I was aware of Alternative Flooring because of  their relationship with master craftsperson, Margo Selby, but it was whilst working on the ‘Sheep to Seat, Fleece to Floor’ project with Ella Doran that the idea of producing a runner made from YSP sheep wool was discussed. The team were really supportive of the project and helped to provide some vital funding which meant we could realise the Alternative wool experience , the beautiful Waterlake runner.

 

Waterlake wool runner Ella Doran for Alternative Flooring

 

WHEN DID YOU FIRST MEET ELLA DORAN AND HAVE YOU WORKED TOGETHER BEFORE?

I first met Ella in 2016 when I was looking for an artist to create designs for a bespoke range of YSP merchandise. With Ella’s commercial experience and digital awareness, she was an obvious choice and we went on to launch two new ranges in 2017.

 

WHOSE IDEA WAS THE PROJECT AND EXHIBITION FOLLOWING THE JOURNEY OF WOOL AT YSP?

Ella and I had discussed the extensive portfolio of imagery she’d accumulated, whilst at YSP researching for the merchandise ranges, and how it was important for this to be seen by our visitors. The plan had originally been a small-scale display of photographic images, but this soon grew into the large-scale collaborative project.

 

DESCRIBE THE SHEEP TO SEAT, FLEECE TO FLOOR EXHIBITION.

The exhibition tells the story of small- and large-scale manufacturers, designers, and craftspeople working collaboratively – utilising traditional skills and techniques to highlight the beauty and versatility of one of the UK’s most overlooked resources: wool. Work for the show began in 2017 when we collected fleece from the Park’s flock of sheep, continuing the year after until we had accumulated enough to generate the variety of spun yarn required for both upholstery fabric and carpets.

 

Ella Doran, Sheep to Seat, Fleece to Floor, 2019 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

 

Ella Doran, Sheep to Seat, Fleece to Floor, 2019 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

 

WHAT PART DID ALTERNATIVE FLOORING PLAY?

Alternative Flooring was one of the manufacturers who supported the project from the very beginning. Lorna Haigh and I were interviewed together during a live event that Campaign for Wool hosted in Covent Garden in 2018 – it was at this point that we realised the impact of the project, and how we could make a difference to the perception of wool as a sustainable resource. An Alternative wool experience.

 

WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED? 

So many people! Starting with the farmers, Charles and Philip Platt; Haworth Scouringwho cleaned the wool; Atlantic Yarns, who spun it; Camira dyed and created the woven lengths of wool; Julian Mayor designed chairs and stools; Solid Wool created a table top; Coakley and Cox made all the furniture; Paul Wyatt documented the whole journey through film; and finally, Campaign for Wool who also supported us with essential funding.

 

Detail Pentagon Ella Doran Julian Mayor Chairs, Sheep to Seat Fleece to Floor

 

DID YSP INSPIRE ELLA’S DESIGN?

Ella took inspiration from the lake at YSP to create her ‘Waterlake’ design for the wool runner, expertly woven by Alternative Flooring, creating the ultimate alternative wool experience.

 

Image on the left: Ella Doran with the Waterlake wool runner, Courtesy the artist and Alternative Flooring. Photo ©Ben Robertson. Image on the right: Alternative Flooring weaving Waterlake wool runner, Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo ©Paul Wyatt

 

HOW MANY SHEEP TOOK PART!

Charles and Philip Platt have a flock of around 160 north of England mules which are a cross between blue-faced Leicester rams and Swaledale ewes. They’re large creatures!

 

A happy sheep before shearing begins. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo ©Paul Wyatt

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS WOOL AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY?

Wool is a major sustainable resource to the UK manufacturing industry. This makes it a perfect material for UK industries to work with. Its benefits are great: it’s hard wearing, naturally moisture wicking, bacteria resistant, breathable and fire retardant. It also looks and feels great – it is the most perfect natural product which we should all be embracing and using.

 

British Wool, Bradford. Photo ©Paul Wyatt

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT VISITORS TO TAKE FROM THIS EXHIBITION?

We’ve included some iconic elements of the YSP landscape within the show and pulled on the naturally occurring resources and highlighted them in ways never seen before. I’d like our visitors to leave with eyes opened and with a richer understanding of who we are and what we do.

 

YSP Lake 8. Photo © Jonty Wilde

 

WHAT ELSE IS IN STORE FOR YSP THIS YEAR?

We’re opening a wonderful show with Melvyn Evans on 16 November. Melvyn is a Kent-based lino cut artist whose work draws on his fascination with the links between rural traditions and our connections to the British landscape. He’s currently working on a wonderful collection of original drawings, paintings and lino prints that focus on the Yorkshire landscape and its dramatic coastline.

 

DON’T MISS!

Ella Doran: Sheep to Seat, Fleece to Floor

15 June – 15 September 2019

 

Discover more about the exhibition and YSP

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

 

WATERLAKE LIMITED EDITION RUNNERS

Produced by British carpet manufacturer, Alternative Flooring, this limited -edition runner has been made using fleece from the sheep which graze the land at YSP using Ella Doran’s Waterlake design in waterlake blue and stone wall chapel colours. Subsequent wool runners will be available from September using alternative wool fleece. The Alternative wool experience.

 

Waterlake  wool runner, Ella Doran for Alternative Flooring

https://www.alternativeflooring.com/collection/runners

 

Find more flooring and interior design inspiration on our Alternative blog.

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