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Review: The Follies of Youth exhibition

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Laura Mark finds a curious display on how we engage with landscapes

Historical research juxtaposed with contemporary art is showcased in the latest exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield’s new temporary exhibition space in a former textile mill by the Chipperfield-designed gallery.

Next year marks the 300th anniversary of the landscape architect Capability Brown’s birth and this exhibition, entitled The Follies of Youth, aims to capture and re-interpret some of his ideas.

Three artists – London-based Giles Bailey, Amelia Crouch from Bradford and Cork-based Ruth Lyons – have produced responses to a series of ‘lost’  West Yorkshire landscapes originally listed in an account book by Brown.

Enlisting the help of a network of writers, emerging artists and curators, the three attempt to recover Brown’s lost designs through poetry, lime kilning and even 18th century walking etiquette.  

The latter is portrayed in a video by Crouch, which shows eight performers stomping across the landscape of  Whitley Beaumont Hall. Her ideas question the concept of ‘natural’ in both landscaping and bodily movement.

Lyons has created an installation entitled Pilot Light, which draws on her research of Byram Park in Wakefield.  Byram Hall, designed by John Carr, was destroyed in the 1950s by a sinkhole and, as Brown’s drawings were lost, it is not known if his ideas for the site were implemented. Lyon’s installation, in which limestone is heated, producing a light which is projected using a large mirror array, draws on the geology of this site.

The small but curious display offers an interesting attempt to interpret how we engage with landscapes and their often forgotten or overlooked design.

The Follies of Youth is at theThe Calder, Hepworth Wakefield, until 31 May

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