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As West Yorkshire gears up for ‘Yorkshire Sculpture International’ and breathes in the transient, high octane scent of conceptual art, Dean Clough has been compiling dull images of the boring public statues which inhabit the county the year round.
Except it’s not that simple. Whether it’s Neolithic menhirs (Yorkshire has the two largest standing stones in the UK), equestrian dignitaries or painted footballers, statues excite local loyalties and inspire unlikely tales.
There are Victorian sculptors who successfully committed suicide twice, devils who hang their grandmothers, and cricketers who become festooned in lady’s underwear.
Writing in the digital catalogue, exhibition organiser Vic Allen says: “To suggest that when Joseph Beuys planted a lump of basalt next to a tree he established the concept that an oak ‘can be a sculpture’ is frankly risible; the moronic notion of a class in thrall to a rudderless sophistication.
“There is, though, at least here a recognition that a public sculpture is a consensual object. Statues are probably the closest that high-art gets to the public realm and, like TV programmes, they can succeed both famously and infamously. Only if they are indifferent do they fail.”
The photographs of (mostly) well-known Yorkshire sculptures range from Darlington to Scunthorpe and from Bridlington to Skipton. Includes people.