Photo: Jan Gaworski

Thursday 18 October 2018 to Sunday 21 October 2018

Art and Nature: The Sculpture Park Re-examined

Center of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, (Poland), the 18th-19th of October 2018
National Museum in Wrocław (Poland), the 20th-21st of October 2018

In the years of 20018-19, sixty years after his seminal British Council exhibition in the country, Poland will host a major Henry Moore exhibition in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation. Encompassing the length and breadth of the country this exhibition will begin in the National Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko before touring to the National Museums in Wroclaw and Krakow.

Henry Moore was both a champion and pioneer in thinking about sculpture informed by and made for the landscape. On the occasion of this important exhibition, two polish partners in the project would like to host an international conference. While Henry Moore and the presentation of this exhibition (from the rural palace estate cum sculpture park of Orońsko to the urban city centre plaza outside the National Museum in Krakow and Modernist exhibition pavilion in Wroclaw) form our starting point, this conference will explore more broadly the phenomenon that is the Sculpture Park. 

Bryan Robertson wrote about Yorkshire Sculpture Park: „In Yorkshire the convergence of an educated idealism among students, a perfect venue of cultivated and wild landscape, access to works of art and a responsive public seems without precedent and this convergence could gradually affect the character of sculpture in England, as well as its enjoyment.” 

These words provide good grounds upon which to formulate further discussion on the history and future of sculpture parks - their aims and claims both old and new. The complex relationship between art and nature has been repeatedly studied but this conference will unpick that relationship within the context of the sculpture park as a constructed environment for its presentation.

It will also question whether the sculpture park can take on further relevance in the current political climate. Often very rural in their location, can they offer a mode of sustainable development in such areas? What should or could the cultural and economic offer be and how should we deliver this?  In which way we can set up contemporary sculpture parks? How we can modernized old ones? What is the context of contemporary sculpture parks? What is history of them? How sculpture parks are related to communities and how it contributes to landscape development? We will be talking of course also about art of Henry Moore.

Professor for Landscape Architecture in Munich Udo Weilacher has considered some of these issues. He quotes art historian Lothar Romain’s appraisal of the sculpture park in Neukirchen in Germany: „Looking back it is getting clearer that the Art Landscape Park initiated a theme that is one of the dominating themes in the last quarter of our century. It’s about landscape, its injuries and destructions, but it’s also about serious attempts to rescue the landscape, a great challenge for art to deal with”.  Weilacher asserts that this is still an important issue in the EU where almost 1000 square kilometers of agriculture or natural land disappears every year for housing, traffic infrastructure, energy production and so on. „Art offers fascinating new perspectives on our „natural life support system” called landscape which must no longer be treated as like an exploitable resource.

It is our aim to bring together our colleagues from ELAN and sculpture parks across Europe to discuss these issues and we have had initial indications of interest from:
Hannah Higham i Sebastiano Barassi, Henry Moore Foundation (UK)
Peter Murray, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (UK)
Calvin Winner, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, (UK)
Henry Meyric Hughes (former director Visual Arts British Council, critic, curator,(UK)
Mattias Givel, Wanås Sculpture Park (Sweden)
Bettina von Dziembowski, Springhornhof Sculpture Park (Germany)
Profesor Udo Weilacher, Technical University of Munich (Germany) 
Giacomo Bianchi, Arte Sella (Italy),
Anselmo Villata, The Art Park, Monferatto  (Italy) 
Dr. Elizabeth Fiedler, Head of Department of Art in Outdoor Space, Chief Curator  of Austrian Sculpture Park in Premstätten (Austria),
Mira Lapidot, Museum Israel, Jerozolima, (Israel)
Jarosław Koziara, Festiwal Land Artu, curator and artist (Poland)
Katarzyna Jankowiak - Gumna, ABC Gallery, founding director of a sculpture park (Poland)
Maciej Świątkowski, Landscape architect, Krajowy Ośrodek Badań i Dokumentacji Zabytków. (Poland)
Aleksandra Ławicka-Cuper, artystka (France/Poland),
Gulia Pagnetti, Musée Gassendi (France),
Iwona Dorota Bigos, National Museum in Wrocław (Poland),
Alina Drapella-Hermansdorfer, Wrocław Technical University (Poland),
Tomasz Domański, artist (Poland),
Robert Kaja, artist (Poland),
Sebastian Cichocki, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (Poland),
dr. Vytautas Michelkevičius, Artistic Director, Nida Art Colony (Lithuania)

Curator: Eulalia Domanowska , Director of The Centre of Polish Sculpture
Moderators: Marta Smolińska,  Professor of art history and Andrzej Szczerski, Jagiellonian University in Cracow.

The potential impact of this conference is far reaching. As a unique forum for discussion of this theme, the immediate benefit to those organisations in attendance is clear. In the longer term, such an interrogation of the role of the sculpture park will not only further the study of sculpture but shape the very way it is presented, experienced  and made, as did Henry Moore’s exploration of this idea sixty years ago.

“Sculpture Today” is a series of international conferences started to be organized by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko in 2016. The impulse for the first one was the exhibition of Tony Cragg sculptures. The second one in 2017 focused on art in public space and its practise.

Under Honorary Patronage of British Embassy and Polish Section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA Poland).
Partner: British Council