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Saturday, 11 June 2016

KAWS@ Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I think I have only just recovered from a very busy half term break with the kids. This included a few days in Lancashire and a visit across to Yorkshire to catch the first UK KAWS exhibition before the Longside Gallery exhibition finishes tomorrow (Sunday 12th June). The six large outdoor sculptures will be available to view until December 2016. I had never been to Yorkshire Sculpture Park before and had not really heard of KAWS until visiting the exhibition. 

KAWS aka Brian Donnelly was born in New Jersey in 1974 and as a teenager was a graffiti artist on bridges and trains who moved into removing, transforming and returning bus stop posters. Much of KAWS work is inspired by well known icons such as Homer Simpson, Spongebob Squarepants, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse who was the inspiration for the character COMPANION who features quite heavily in this exhibition. 

Despite his very non-commercial beginnings KAWS has had various connections with Disney. He briefly worked for the company as a freelance animator painting backgrounds for Disney films. KAWS is known for his collectable vinyl toy figures which are especially popular in Japan. His take on Disney characters was embraced by Disney when in 2010 they jointly released highly collectable Pinocchio and Jimminy Cricket figures with the familiar Disney style clothes but KAWS' trademark crossed eyes and KAWS ears. 

When we arrived at the park we enjoyed a walk through the parkland, dotted with sculptures from many talented artists. The six KAWS sculptures are huge so easy to spot in their landscape...


Small Lie (2013)

Better Knowing (2013)

Good Intentions (2015)

Along The Way (2013)

At This Time (2013)

Final Days (2013)

We then had a pleasant walk through a field of cows to reach the Longside Gallery which was home to the indoor exhibition. This was a mixture of smaller sculptures and paintings. The kids enjoyed creating their own characters using the provided family activity sheets as we waited for the minibus back to the Sculpture Park car park.

Companion (Resting Place) (2013)

Companion (passing through) (2010)

Accomplice (2010)

Clean Slate (2014)

OriginalFake COMPANION (2006)

CHUM (PINK) (2009)

Part of series of pictures entitled Survival Machine (2015)


I found the whole visit very enjoyable, I like the KAWS style and found the use of wood to create the outdoor figures beautiful, especially against the background of the Yorkshire countryside. I always seem to respond quite emotionally to works of art with adult and child figures and so these figures appealed to me especially. I enjoy some pop art styles and felt KAWS used inspiration from figures like Mickey Mouse to create other strong, simple figures. The kids also enjoyed the exhibition, finding the imagery easy to engage with.

Entry to Yorkshire Sculpture Park is free, there is a charge for car parking.

Even though the gallery exhibition is now ending, the large KAWS figures as well as the many other sculptures to view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park makes this a highly recommended visit for all the family over the summer.

Love Clarex

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