James Turrell, Deer Shelter Skyspace (2006)

It was not a day you would think you might need protection. My recent visit here was on a mild Spring afternoon. But once inside the skyspace, the breeze up there carried the force of a roar.

The clouds or perhaps the Earth appeared to be moving twice as fast. It brought to mind footage which had been speeded up to make a disturbing point about the unstable climate.

Shelter is not necessarily the point of James Turrell’s work. In a number of similar skyscapes, it has been said the American artist is more keen to simply bring the cosmos closer.

But it happens that this piece of work is built into a listed 19th century fold for livestock belonging to the Bretton Park Estate in West Yorkshire. It has a certain historical purpose.

Now, as a restless wind skims overhead, the opening in the roof reveals how exposed we might have been as we wandered o’er nearby dale and distant city streets.

Stone benches tilt back to allow a perfect view of the elements. A square aperture helps accentuate the pictorial drama of the skies above, or at very least their infinite indifference.

This prospect of oblivion is troubling and Deer Shelter offers only limited physical cover. But for a moment or two of contemplation, existence does seem here at least as solid as the four walls.

There’s a PBS documentary featuring an interview with James Turrell available here. Deer Shelter meanwhile can be seen at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and further details including press at time of opening can be seen here.

3 thoughts on “James Turrell, Deer Shelter Skyspace (2006)

  1. Just wanted to say that something particularly struck a chord for me in reading this post. Something about the way you described the installation (is that the right word?) really captured my imagination. I had never heard of the artist before, but I now find myself fascinated by his work. Thanks 🙂

  2. My first experience with a James Turrell sky space was in Ft.Worth, TX at the Nasher Sculpture Garden and I was in awe of the space but didn’t understand the true potential. Now I understand after experiencing the evening light shows that change the perception of the color of the sky before your eyes. He is a truly remarkable artist that continues to astonish me and I suggest everyone seek out his work around the world.

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