Best galleries in the north? Yorkshire Sculpture Park picks its top 3

Susie Stubbs

From a little-known château to an architect’s dream, YSP’s Clare Lilley gives us three unmissable galleries.

We spoke to Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Clare Lilley about public art, Frieze Art Fair and just how she managed to persuade artists such as Ai Weiwei and Yinka Shonibare to show new work in a park near Wakefield. While we were at it, we also asked her to name her top three northern art galleries. She kindly obliged, with a list that’s as varied as it is considered.

#1. The Hepworth Wakefield

It’s perhaps no surprise that The Hepworth was top of Clare Lilley’s list: this David Chipperfield-designed gallery, which rises from the River Calder, is Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s nearest neighbour. But proximity aside, is it also a place that’s “good because of its programming and good because of the building; it’s just a wonderful place.”

#2. The Bluecoat

One of the oldest buildings in Liverpool city centre, the Bluecoat is quite often the first place we head when on a jaunt to the Scouse city. It combines gallery space with independent shops, a secret garden, contemporary craft, a café and a bistro. It is, says Lilley, “an unsung gallery, terrific in terms of its space and programming.”

#3. The Bowes Museum

Lilley’s wildcard, this 19th-century French château nestles somewhat incongruously in the bosom of Barnard Castle, a market town near Durham. It houses incredible fine and decorative arts collections, stages regular contemporary shows and has everything from a playground to a life-size musical, mechanical swan. “It’s a museum that’s been left behind a bit; it’s old fashioned yet has contemporary art, and is totally bonkers,” says Lilley. It gets our vote.

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