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EXHIBITION

REVIEW

Andy Goldsworthy At the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, until 6 January 2008

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) was made for Andy Goldsworthy and he for it. This year sees the 30th anniversary of the park, and 20 years earlier Goldsworthy was its artist in residence. Goldsworthy is a Northerner, at home with dry-stone walls and woodland, and he can extract an entire thesaurus of references from the complex Bretton landscape - part Brownian park, part working farmland. He alerts us to the passage of time; to different usages and several histories (both functional and aesthetic); to forms and spaces familiar and unfamiliar; and then leads us through, musing on suitable narratives for modern urban-minded visitors.

The current exhibition extends throughout the YSP. In Round Wood, which lies at one extremity of the park, you find Outclosure: a hermetic dry-stone circular pound with walls too high to peer over, without an entrance or exit - not so much as a chink. It sits at ease in a small spinney, beech trees seemingly stepping back respectfully.

Not far away is Hanging Tree, the wall following the line of Oxley Bank (almost a ha-ha), fallen tree trunks embedded in the series of stonework enclosures, hovering well above ground level.

Goldsworthy's earlier Storm King Wall in upstate New York takes a sinuous path, winding around live, vertical trunks. In this reworking, the fallen trees are almost menacing in their torpor.

At the Longside Gallery, more cowshed than art space, Goldsworthy's sheep paintings of 1997-8 instantly refer the viewer back outside: canvasses imprinted with hundreds of sheep footfalls as they gathered around a salt lick; a small clear circle in the midst of a graffiti of mud and hoof marks. The gallery window is thick with slurry, leaving just a serpentine line of clear glazing for a view out. Works on paper are created with the blood of hares, and some of this veers towards the danker verse of Ted Hughes, but back at the main Underground Gallery, Goldsworthy hits another note entirely.

Here the artist is brimming with confidence. Goldsworthy bundles elbow-shaped oak branches into a great interlocking egg, which almost fills the room, and clads another gallery in coppiced sweet chestnut, with a kind of swirling vortex of twigs at the centre.

Both rooms are fragrant with woodiness, even a hint of resin.

Dove-grey clay, plastered from oor to ceiling, striated as it dries, encases another space.

Layered stone cairns, pierced by holes as unexplained as the void at the centre of Outclosure, -ll another room.

Finally, the last gallery is split by a veil of diaphanous beauty: hanging chestnut stems pinned by blackthorn, pierced by an oculus no bigger than the sheep lick. Shifting from the tough and unremitting - the fissured mud, slabs of sandstone, the textured heftiness of timber - to the shimmering hedgerow embroidery of this finale, Goldsworthy is an artist who appears here on top form.

Gillian Darley writes on architecture, art and landscape

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