James Turrell was born in 1943 in Los Angeles, where his father was an aeronautical engineer. He grew up a Quaker. One of his earliest memories is to do with this faith and his grandmother inviting him to ‘go inside and greet the light’ at Quaker meetings. He got his pilots licence at 16, and flew missions to rescue Tibetian monks over the Himalyas in the 50s, and then later worked for the CIA as a pilot.

After completing a degree in perceptual psychology, Turrell began to experiment with light. He has since described his work as being for:

‘The ideal viewer, who will treasure this light. I make situations that allow anyone to have this relationship.’

Art work facts:

Keilder: Skyspace is a permanent work created in Keilder Park’s deer shelter – it frames a square of sky with an aperture cut in the roof. The Skyspace has been created inside a 19th century Grade II-listed building and is the culmination of an idea Turrell had in 1993. The work does not affect the landscape or disturb the tranquillity of the site, but harnesses the changing light of the Yorkshire sky in a peaceful chamber.

Personal response:

This work feels like a suitable intervention into the space of Keilder Park; it was created early in the Park's history as a place with sculpture and seems to me to be the right kind of introduction to the idea of public work in this location, using existing structures as its basis. The change of focus of the viewer as they physically enter the work looks intriguing from the video footage; they have to purposely cut off the 'normal' view and enter a quite small and oppressive looking space to gain an understanding of the work. It only works if you choose to engage with it. The restricted viewpoint of the sky seems to make the viewer have a greater appreciation of it once the exit the skyspace.

Additional Information:

YouTube video of Skyspace in San Francisco

James Turrell on Wikipedia
Art Council info on Kielder Art and Architecture

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