One of our favorite parts of Frieze in London is always the Sculpture Park. This year, as in fairs past, it is curated by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Director of Programme Clare Lilley. On view will be 15 new and historic works from Aaron Angell, Carol Bove, Tony Cragg, Leo Fitzmaurice, Seung-taek Lee, Haroon Mirza, Pre-Ekoi, Kathleen Ryan, Richard Serra, Conrad Shawcross, Dominique Stroobant, Takis, William Turnbull, Gary Webb, and Jesse Wine.
Last week, Whitewall caught up with Lilley (fresh from installing a massive Bill Viola show at YSP on view through April 10, 2016) to hear about this year’s exhibition in Regent’s Park.
WHITEWALL: There are three pieces in the exhibition—by Jesse Wine, Leo Fitzmaurice, and Seung-taek Lee—that were completed just in time for Frieze. Can you tell us about those works?
CLARE LILLEY: The Seung-taek Lee is an incredible inflated balloon of the earth. It’s a performance work called Earth Play that was first made in 1979 and then played out in various places over the decades, and has now been remade for Frieze. He’s a Korean artist originally born in North Korea, and eventually went to South Korea. A lot of his work has been along that border. He’s made work that uses a vocabulary of land art, and even used the wind to take balloons across the border, or beautiful flags with long streamers, or smoke, to show the freedom of the wind to cross this really contentious border.
So with Earth Play, you’re invited to play with this big ball balloon, ultimately it will deflate over the course of the week, so it’s a metaphor for how we consider the Earth and how we treat the Earth.
WW: It’s also unique in its interactive nature and that it will change shape as opposed to the other static sculptures around it.
CL: Yes. And so Jesse Wine is an artist that is part of this young generation of artists that have gone back to clay, ceramics, and he creates very fresh and new sculpture from traditional studio pottery methods and practices. And this work is quite demanding for him, it’s a challenging work that is 4.2 meters high. It’s made of different color cylinders of ceramics, kind of like strata you would find from a rock face.
WW: Has Wine ever done something that large?
CL: Not to my knowledge. This is one of the beautiful things about the Sculpture Park, it really allows people to push and realize their ambitions. It is such an amazing platform. For one thing, the garden is a beautiful garden. We kind of take Regent’s Park for granted, but actually it’s a really well done and highly considered landscape. You can work sculpture into that landscape in a particular so there’s a unity of disparate work. That makes it a really extraordinary platform for artists to work with.
WW: And what about the third new work, by Fitzmaurice?
CL: Leo is an artist who is based in Liverpool and he works with ideas around the throw-away objects. Previously I worked with him on bargain brand packaging, where he made the most beautiful city from hundreds of boxes. He takes something that is everyday and throw-away and cheap and shifts it into something that is other than itself.
For this case he’s taken really crummy plastic bags you are given to put your produce in at the super market, filled them with plaster, knotted them, and cast them in bronze. The whole process subverts the original object because once you cast something in bronze you are giving it a value it didn’t have before. We’re clustering these on the grass and I think people will read them as little white rabbits. But then as they get close they’ll realize they are litter bags. So it’s funny, it’s a comment on our throw-away society, and it uses light and subversive language that Leo is a master of.
WW: You are curating for an audience that is coming for the fair and also the general public. You’ve said about your work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, that it’s really good at creating new audiences for art. Do you look at the Frieze Sculpture Park as a similar opportunity?
CL: Completely. Yes. There are thousands on a daily basis who use the park, and I care deeply that there is something there that I hope will delight them, surprise them, concern them, and make them think. It’s really important to me that the works form a kind of rhythm around the park so that people have a desire to keep on this walk and keep following the sculpture. In doing that you physically enjoy the park more, and you get an energy that is very unique to sculpture outdoors. The thing that I’ve observed at Frieze in the Sculpture Park is how complete strangers can have a conversation. I love this sense of coming together and an exchange. And this is something that sculpture in a public ground can do.
Last year I felt really pleased because a couple of people wrote to The Evening Standard and asked, “Why couldn’t we have the Sculpture Garden for longer?” No one has said anything better to me than that.