yorkshire sculpture international

In 2018 and throughout 2019 Leeds Beckett University worked in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture International to help celebrate a festival of sculpture, inspire our students, deliver a series of public Sculpture Talks, put on a symposium, publish new artists’ books and fund a practice-based PhD.

In the summer of 2019, the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park collaborated on the first Yorkshire Sculpture International – the UK’s largest dedicated sculpture festival. The YSI was comprised of a series of exhibitions, international commissions, events and learning programmes – with sculpture in its broadest forms on display across galleries and outdoors in Leeds and Wakefield.

Artist Phyllida Barlow was the provocateur for the festival and presented a series of statements. One of these – “Sculpture is the most anthropological of the art forms” – was explored through the exhibitions, events and the work of our undergraduate Fine Art students.

YSI was developed using funding from Leeds Beckett University, Arts Council England & Leeds 2023, Wakefield Council, and the University of Leeds.


Leeds Beckett University and Yorkshire Sculpture International


leeds art gallery

Between November 2018 and February 2019, Leeds School of Arts organised a series of eight lectures in partnership with YSI and Leeds Art Gallery. Delivered by acclaimed artists including Anne Hardy, James Capper, Holly Hendry and Zadie Xa, this series was open to both students and the general public. Exploring sculptural practice today and their unique perspective, most of the speakers also ran exclusive tutorials for Leeds Beckett students.


inside/out lecture series

Six events from our biannual INSIDE/OUT lecture series were run in partnership with YSI, featuring a fantastic array of practitioners from across the world of sculpture, and beyond. Starting with internationally renowned artist Kimsooja the series also featured the brilliant Phyllida Barlow, composer Tarek Atoui, Tamar Harpaz, Nobuko Tsuchiya and Ayşe Erkman, these all promise to be fascinating.

Fine Art Project

Based in the ground floor space of the Leeds School of Arts’ Broadcasting Place Building, BA (Hons) Fine Art students produced work in response to a range of sculptural provocations set by world-leading sculptor Phyllida Barlow.

Working with staff and invited artists, students explored questions around ‘what is sculpture?’ through both discussion and making, engaging with a wide range of materials and methodologies.


PhD Scholarship

A practice-based scholarship was created as a result of our partnership, with the intention being that the successful student develop their PhD topic in dialogue with Yorkshire Sculpture International and the academic supervisory team at Leeds Beckett University. This fully funded three-year doctorate was awarded to the very talented Julia McKinlay who is working across sculpture, drawing and print, as well as helping to deliver the 2019 YSI.

Julie McKinley sat in front of artwork pinned to the wall

Julia Mckinlay Photographed by Matthew Bowden 

Artist's Books

An open call was issued to staff and students for book proposals which explored sculpture in all its forms and two grants of £5000 were created to fund the design, production and printing of a publication. The winning proposals were selected by a panel including representatives from Leeds Beckett University and YSI. The winning books, designed in collaboration with Marit Münzberg and published in September 2019 were:

Jo Hamill, ‘Gutter Words’

Working with an edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, artist Jo Hamill systematically obliterated the words of Joyce but carefully retained those words positioned closest to the gutter – the technical term used to describe the central margin of a bound page.

Julia McKinlay, ‘Feeling the Underside’

Julia, an artist and PhD student at Leeds Beckett University has made a limited edition collection of prints inspired by an encounter with a museum specimen of the shell collecting snail Xenophora.

Yorkshire Sculpture International Symposium

Held a Leeds Beckett University, the YSI Symposium critically reflected on the first Yorkshire Sculpture International with a day of talks by artists, curators, fabricators and educators. Discussions included the traditional and new technologies used in sculpture today; The role of collaboration with fabricators and specialists and the challenges of developing sculpture for the public realm and the current context of accessing sculpture making facilities and education in sculpture.

“We have been blown away by the reaction to the first festival. All the partners have been incredible and worked together to create something special. We are delighted that so many people experienced sculpture over the summer. Yorkshire Sculpture International has made a real statement that West Yorkshire is the home of sculpture in the UK.” - Jane Bhoyroo, Producer of YSI