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Aspiration (2006) by Bill Hodgson and the Quiet Place
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Aspiration (2006) by Bill Hodgson and the Quiet Place

In this video, we contemplate an important example of campus sculpture that crosses art with wellbeing.
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This area of campus, between Derwent College, one of the original CLASP buildings and Heslington Hall, the Tudor manor is called the Quiet Place. While new teaching buildings and accommodation have since sprung up and created a bustling, vibrant campus, this area is purposefully kept as green space for students to use to relax outdoors. Along the lakeside path on the way to the Quiet Place we find this sculpture, Aspiration by the woodcarver, Bill Hodgson. Hodgson used a dying oak tree for this piece, a natural material from the immediate landscape and carved 33 birds representative of the waterfowl who live in the nearby lake and form an important part of York’s biodiversity.
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Therefore, this sculpture is a part of the landscape, rather than set apart from it, creating a harmonious balance between art and environment. Thinking about oak trees and birds in flight takes our mind from the stresses of everyday life and studies. The sculpture contributes to the calm and contemplative environment of the Quiet Place. In this outdoor setting, rather than a museum or gallery, we can have a much more personal and informal encounter with the work. Like the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which we discussed in Week 1, this part of campus is a gallery without walls. A recent NHS study found that encounters with artworks in outdoor settings relieved stressed and helped patients to express their emotions through discussions about the art.
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How do you think looking at sculpture in this setting might help students mental health and well-being?

In this video, we visit one of the most peaceful places on the University of York campus, the Quiet Place.

In the first week of the course, we visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a location that emphasises tranquil, green spaces as the ideal setting for viewing sculpture. Although on a smaller scale, the Quiet Place offers the same thing to students by giving them a peaceful place on campus to relax and enjoy art.

Now let’s take a look at Aspiration by Bill Hodgson to see how this wood-carved sculpture responds to its natural, calming surroundings.

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Modern Sculpture: An Introduction to Art History

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