Last Saturday we drove over to the Hepworth in Wakefield to take a look at the latest exhibitons. We’d not been for a while – our last visit was our annual “pilgrimage” on New Year’s day. Being named after Barbara Hepworth, the Gallery exhibitions are often devoted to sculpture, but not exclusively and Currently they have three exibitons featuring photography.
The main exhibition Lee Miller and Surrealism is a survey of the work ofthe American photographer, best known for her association with Man Ray and her photographs taken during the Second World War, both on the Home Front in the UK and then, later, in France and Germany. It includes some of her photographs togethor with selected works by Surrealist artists, attempting to explore their influence on her.
The Hepworth website tells us that
Arriving in Paris in 1929, Miller quickly became Man Ray’s apprentice, muse and collaborator, becoming part of the Surrealist network.
During World War II, Miller was employed by British Vogue as a freelance war correspondent, capturing thought-provoking images of Hitler’s secret apartments and the harrowing atrocities of wartime living with her particular surrealist eye.
No photography was allowed in this exhibition but a limited number of images can be viewed on the Hepworth website.
The second exhibition was Hot Mirror, a survey of work by the contemporary Dutch artist and photographer Viviane Sassen.
Most of the images included in the exhibition were from her series ‘Umbra’, ‘Flamboya’ (photographs taken in Kenya), the ‘Pikin Slee’ series, from a remote village in Suriname, ‘Oarasomnia’, a dreamlime exploration of sleep.
There were similarities with the Lee Miler exhibition as the works on display included black and white documentary style photographs and there were clear Surrealist influences in many of the images. Even many of her photographs of “real” subjects had an abstract and often surreal quality. Here are some of my favourites.
In the centre of the gallery there was a room and walking inside you entered an immersive work Totem, 2014, which
places the visitor inside a surreal landscape.
with a changing series of images projected on the wall and reflected in mirros to produce a type of giant kaleidoscope effect.
The third photographic exhibition, Modern Nature: British Photographs from the Hyman Collection, “does what it from says on the tin” featuring around 60 photographs taken from the end of the Second World War up to the present day. The photographers included some favourites of mine – Shirley Baker, Bill Brandt and Martin Parr. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch any decent photos of the photos (!) due to reflections in the glass.
The Hepworth is always worth a visit and that was certainly the case the other Saturday.