Another New Year’s Day at the Hepworth

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It seems to becoming a tradition that we travel over to Wakefield to visit the Hepworth Gallery on New Year’s Day. Well, if going there two years on the run counts as establishing a tradition! We’ll have to see what happens next year. In any case driving over the M62 on the morning of the first day of the year is a lot easier than normal as there was relatively little traffic on the roads and the Hepworth is worth the journey.

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We visited the gallery twice in 2012, the last time in September when we saw the excellent Richard Long exhibition and the post war British painting and sculpture in galleries 2 and 3. There were two new temporary exhibitions – one of Barbara Hepworth’s hospital drawings of surgeons at work and two rooms showing To Hope, To Tremble, To Live Modern and Contemporary Works from the David Roberts Collection.  The title derived from a quote from Rodin “The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live. Be a man before being an artist!”

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The exhibition of post war drawings and sculptures was still on, but was definitely worth another look and we enjoyed looking round the the Barbara Hepworth sculptures in room 1 and the permanent exhibitions of Hepworth’s plasters and works by artists from the St Ives  school (although even here there were some changes). The Hepworth also have some exhibits outdoors and these included Upper Mill a work by the illustrator James Pyman. We spent a good 3 hours there, including having our dinner (a tasty, and slightly different, hot pot of vegetables) in the cafe.

(Some works from To Hope, To Tremble, To Live Picture source: Hepworth website)

The Hepworth hospital drawings  were stunning and I think they deserve their own, separate, post. I was much less taken with the exhibition of works from the David Roberts collection. I entered  with hope, but very few of the works made me tremble and most of them failed to move me. I liked some of the works on display, Man Ray’s photograph Ady (1935) of his mistress, Adrienne Fidelin, a dancer and model from Guadeloupe, Ricky Swallow’s Standing Mask (soot) 2010, Tony Cragg’s Wild Relatives (2005) and Eduardo Paolazzi’s Picador (c1955). But most of the of the other works went over my head. I could admire the skill of the artists, and their obvious intelligence, but I wasn’t moved by them. So it wasn’t a completely successful exhibition for me. Nevertheless, I think it is important to explore different types of art, rather than just stick to the “safe” and familiar, as it makes you think and it’s how you discover new artists and works.

So overall a good day out, well worth the drive over the Pennines, and a good way to start the New Year.

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