Untitled Stones Transcript

Duration 03:05

These stones are untitled and form part of a set of standing stones commissioned in 1998. Curator Tony Trehy tells us more.

Tony Trehy (00:13)
The sculptures in Outwood Country Park are by Ulrich Ruckriem who is a German artist. I can’t give them names because be doesn’t title any of his sculptures. Ulrich Ruckriem is an international renowned artist who is a really important artist of his generation. He was so important that when we commissioned him to make the piece he came to Radcliffe from Tokyo having just done a piece in Tokyo. At the same time as we asked him to do a piece at Outwood he was invited to make a piece for the Champs-Elysees in Paris and he refused them because he thought that Outwood was a much more exciting site.

Narrator (00:51)
This was once a huge coal mine. Outwood was the biggest colliery in Lancashire. It opened in the 1840s and was a major source of employment for the area, until disaster struck in 1931.

Tony Trehy (01:05)
There was a disastrous underground fire. It basically made the whole mine unsafe to work, potentially it was shut up, mass unemployment in the area. No one could go down the mine again, that whole area was just fenced off so for 50 years it was just a derelict area that no one could go near. So it was regenerated and turned into a country park and taking it back to what it must have been like before it was an industrial wasteland.

Narrator (01:35)
Ulrich’s response to the space was a set of huge, impressive standing stones at different points on the site.

Tony Trehy (01:41)
It’s actually quite difficult to describe what Ulrich does because it’s non verbal and the best thing to do with Ulrich’s work is to experience it because it’s actually about how you experience space and how you move through space and so that’s why they are not titled because language changes the way you think how spaces are. The way it’s conceived is that the entrance points to the park are actually marked by one of his stones and there is a central group of stones in the middles of the park. You are invited to have the experience of the spatial relationship between the ones that you pass to enter the park and the ones that stand in the middle of the park.

Narrator (02:24)
The specific sitings of the stones have an extraordinary effect.

Tony Trehy (02:28)
In terms of just how he plays with that space is the ones in the middle of the park are designed on a thing called the ‘queens problem’ from chess. If you imagine a chess board, if you put a number of queens on the board, how many queens can you put on the board so that none of them can take each other. It’s a mathematical problem from the 1840s and so he uses that because it changes a space because the stones are not in line with each other but it means that when you approach them from particular directions they all magically line up.

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