Frieze Sculpture Park Curator Clare Lilley Reveals London Fair's Outdoor Lineup

Frieze Sculpture Park Curator Clare Lilley Reveals London Fair's Outdoor Lineup
Clare Lilley, curator of Frieze Sculpture Park 2012 and director of programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A breath of fresh air is blowing through Frieze's enterprises, and the launch of the inaugural Frieze Masters, dedicated to "pre-21st century art," is only one sign of change.

ARTINFO UK can reveal that Clare Lilley, the director of programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, is the one behind the 2012 Frieze Sculpture Park, which is set to be the art fair's most ambitious outdoor exhibition to date.


Taking place in Regent's Park's "English Gardens," Frieze's sculpture park is the only part of the fair entirely free to the public. This year, it will feature works by the likes of Yayoi Kusama, Michael Landy, Anri Sala, and Thomas Scheibitz. A couple of weeks before the grand opening, ARTINFO UK caught up with curator Lilley.

How did you approach Frieze's sculpture park? 

I spent time walking around the English Gardens and observing how they are used by a diverse and large number of people. Of course, I was also very aware of previous Frieze Sculpture Parks and understood that you have to work hard to entice people, to tantalize them into veering off the direct route into the fair. So it was important to establish a core of distinguished works by established artists with the power and presence to lead visitors out into the further reaches of the Gardens. It was also important to reflect practices by younger and lesser-known artists and I hope that through my conversations with Frieze's exhibiting galleries, I’ve achieved a rich mix of both.

How much has your experience at Yorkshire Sculpture Park shaped the way you worked on this project? 

I’m very sensitive to the demands and opportunities offered by showing work outdoors, and especially within a park or landscape setting. Unlike a gallery, this kind of environment is relatively uncontrollable in terms of light, weather and the interaction of both the casual and informed visitor — trees are themselves incredibly powerful and beautiful, so can dwarf or thwart sculpture. It’s therefore essential to site works carefully, so they have the space to breathe, or are allowed an intimacy to come alive. The rhythm of walking between one work and another can also determine a viewer’s response to and enjoyment of the whole experience of the exhibition. This sensitivity to the holistic, aesthetic experience has been acquired over time at YSP and has a continuing impact on my approach to understanding and seeing art in the open air, and to the selection of and way in which I’ve sited the work in the Frieze Sculpture Park.

What was the most challenging aspect of curating the sculpture park? 

For practical reasons, some fabulous works dropped out very late in the day, which was terribly disappointing. However, the most nerve-wracking aspect for me was in deciding the sites for sculptures, many of which I haven’t been able to actually see, so that the map could go to print in time for the opening. From the images, dimensions and my experience, I have a pretty good sense of the scale, mass and presence of each of the sculptures, and I’ve worked to "learn" this new garden landscape, but even so, it’s been a bit of a hairy process!

Could you tell us about the selection process? Is there an overall theme or concept linking the pieces on display? 

There isn’t an overall theme, and to some degree the works are proposed by galleries exhibiting in the Fair, but I very much wanted to present an exhibition that indicates the multiplicity of contemporary sculptural practice by artists from across generations. The sculptures need to stand up to the elements and the rough and tumble of a relatively unmediated public space, so the selection is inevitably object-based. But the works also differ widely in terms of their conceptual imperatives, ranging from very classical, earthy work by Hans Josephsohn, William Turnbull, and David Nash, through an engagement with very different media in the work of Yayoi Kusama, Jean-Luc Moulène, and Peter Liversidge, to more ephemeral work by Maria Zahle, and subversive sculptures by Michael Landy, Simon Periton, and Alan Kane. Those who have been at dOCUMENTA(13) will recognize Anri Sala’s "Clocked Persepective," which forms a very distinct end or beginning to the exhibition, depending on your route, and near to it I’ve sited two very subtle works by Adip Dutta and Hemali Bhuta, which clearly respond to the natural world; not foo far from away are wonderfully deceitful works by Damián Ortega and Andreas Lolis. There are more geometric, formal works by Thomas Scheibitz and Sam Falls that contrast quite distinctly with the garden, and a deliciously irreverent bronze by Sean Landers. It’s been hugely enjoyable having the selection come together – to see the sculptures metaphorically bounce off each other, have conversations, and punctuate this place.

How different will your offering be compared to the previous years? 

It’s certainly a larger selection than previously and I think extends further into the garden, using both intimate and open spaces. Perhaps because I set out to secure works made by artists of different generations there will be a different sensibility. More than being different, though, I hope the sculptures will stop people in their tracks and will encourage others to visit, that they will challenge and delight, and give cause for thought, discussion and exchange. This is how art outdoors functions quite differently to the gallery or museum setting.

How do you think the sculpture park will function in relation to the fair? 

This year for the first time there is Frieze Masters — both frenetic and filled to brimming — and to some degree the Sculpture Park will link the two. The Sculpture Park is also chock-full with ideas, and in many respects I hope it will be a haven, a kind of oasis for walking and thoughtful reflection. 


Hemali Bhuta, Speed Breakers (2012), Project 88 (supported by Creative India Foundation)

Adip Dutta, Nestled (2012), Experimenter

Sam Falls, Untitled Sculpture (blue, burgundy, tangerine, teal, #5) (2012), International Art Objects Galleries

Hans Josephsohn, Untitled (1970 – 2010), Hauser & Wirth

Alan Kane and Simon Periton, eight fculptures (2012), Ancient & Modern, Sadie Coles HQ

Yayoi KusamaFlowers That Bloom Tomorrow (2011), Victoria Miro

Sean LandersPan (2006), greengrassi

Michael Landy, Self-portrait as Rubbish Bin (2012), Thomas Dane Gallery

Peter Liversidge, Everything is Connected (2012), Ingleby Gallery

Andreas Lolis, 21st Century Relics (Composition in 7 parts) (2012), The Breeder

Jean-Luc Moulène, Body Versus Twizy (2011), Galerie Chantal Crousel, Collection Renault, France

David Nash, Black Light (2012), Annely Juda Fine Art

Damián Ortega, Through / True Stone 2012, White Cube 

Anri SalaClocked Perspective (2012), Hauser & Wirth

Thomas Scheibitz, Smiley (2009), Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Sprüth Magers Berlin London

William Turnbull, Horse (1999), Waddington Custot Galleries

Maria Zahle, Tree Stripe (2012), Arcade