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Crate expectations

review

Bauman Lyons' conversion of a large disused barn into the Longside Gallery has made a big difference to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (AJ 20.9.01). Not just in providing extra exhibition space but in giving visitors new perspectives on the park's landscape, facing the main complex as it does across the intervening valley and lake.

This summer's show by German duo Wolfgang Winter and Berthold Hörbelt further amplifies this landscape dimension, because the siting of one large work, Basket-7, on the top of Oxley Bank, has led to the creation of a new signed footpath from Bretton Hall to Longside. Joining an existing route there beside the gallery, it makes a 4.5km circuit that, scenically, is hard to beat.

Basket-7 is clearly in the tradition of the follies and eye-catchers of an 18th-century English landscape park. Two storeys high and sinuous in form, it is made of steel mesh, which also subdivides the ground-floor interior to create a miniature labyrinth, from whose centre a spiral stair climbs to a chamber above. Because of the dense mesh, the visual connection with outdoors is impeded - this isn't a conventional 'viewing pavilion' - though sounds penetrate, as does the breeze. Seats imply that you should linger:

the focus is inwards as well as out.

Winter and Hörbelt say that 'one of the demands we make is that people must enjoy entering and making use of the rooms', so they would have appreciated the behaviour of four youths who were there when I visited. Wondering aloud at first why Basket-7 was called a sculpture, they soon began to choreograph a video of their movements through it, then sat around upstairs for a while, before concluding: 'This is pretty cool, actually.' A few hundred metres further on is the Longside Gallery, reconfigured for the duration of this show by Winter and Hörbelt's Kastenhaus 498.6 protruding through its front window. This is one of the 'crate houses' that have become the artists' signature, seen internationally from Venice to Sao Paolo, usually outdoors in urban settings. Empty bottle crates function as building blocks to form temporary structures that are surprisingly robust. This one is comprised of 498 such crates, stacked six-high; hence the title.

In the crate houses' perforated screens, there's a reminder of the Smithsons' interest in lattices: the way that, in Peter Smithson's words, they 'affect both our looking in and looking out. We are conscious of seeing segments, segments which isolate objects or collections of objects, so we see them strongly.' One might think too of Islamic mashrabiyya filtering the sun, but made of semi-translucent moulded plastic, not the intricate woodwork of an old Cairo mansion.

So there's a certain perceptual interest for the occupant of a Kastenhaus, increased by the reflections in the red-gloss plastic floor - what else? In photos on display at Longside, these temporary pavilions look good lit-up at night, when they resemble glowing honeycombs; some take on functional roles, such as a bus shelter or small auditorium;

but generally the interactive, social aspect that the artists stress must be a matter of chance encounters inside them.

Bisected by the window of the Longside Gallery, Kastenhaus 498.6 is half within the building and half out, so while you can see all the other visitors, you can only communicate in dumbshow with those on the far side of the glass. To judge again from photos, however, such scenarios are not these artists' norm. Their pavilions are not like Dan Graham's, where the combination of mirrored, translucent and transparent glass creates sudden diverse connections between people;

where you see without being seen, and vice versa. In this, they're less tricksy, less coercive - if also less surprising.

Winter and Hörbelt's crate houses affirm art's old adeptness at mobilising the discarded or overlooked, but chime with current emphases on recycling. Referring to the history of pavilions in the landscape, they reflect today's interest in the demountable and migratory. Such architectural themes recur in this show, with its focus on permeability, on blurring boundaries between inside and out, and on effects of light; this last theme explored not just with the crates and mesh but in Winter and Hörbelt's use of coloured resin (to make seats, for instance). Their work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park suggests many trains of thought, so set aside an afternoon if you visit - and be sure to take that walk.

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