A few photos taken during our visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last Saturday.
I’m still far from finished writing up our trip to Australia, but I’d thought I’d take a short diversion to report on our trip to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield on New Year’s Day. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to drive over a quiet M62 to visit this excellent gallery. Last year we didn’t make a subsequent visit so it’s a while since we were last there – well, 12 months exactly!
There had quite been a few changes with new exhibitions in four of the galleries and a temporary exhibition of work by the Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow which was coming to the end of it’s run.
Gallery 1 featured a range of works from the Wakefield collection, including the beautiful elm sculpture by Henry Moore shown above and works from Barbara Hepworth, and Nuam Gabo,
The next two galleries concentrated on works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, both born locally in Castleford and Wakefield respectively.
In the first room, works by henry Moore included this unusual (for Moore) bronze head Open Work Head No. 2 (1950)
some of his drawings of miners from local pits during WWII
and a series of lithographs of Stonehenge that he had personally donated to the Wakefield collection.
The next, large room, was a comprehensive survey of Barbara Hepworth’s work including sculpture, drawings, prints and even her library of books
We had a brief look around the next two rooms which explore Hepworth’s working methods and display examples from the Hepworth’s collection of her plasters as they’re on permanent display and we’ve seen them many times before. But the next two rooms had new displays – more works from the Hepworth’s collection
Working with ceramics for several years, Korda combines her experimental approach to the material with her interest in the acoustic properties of objects. For The Hepworth Wakefield, Korda has created a new work, Resonators, comprising five large, richly glazed vessels with openings at each end. Visitors are invited to interact with the work by placing their ears to each vessel to hear a range of bass-like tones.
The exhibition also features a new presentation of Korda’s ceramic sound installation Hold Fast, Stand Sure, I Scream a Revolution, which was premiered at Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2016. This work is made up of 29 individual porcelain mushrooms suspended from the ceiling, which will be played as bells in public performances during the Ceramics Fair in early May 2018.
I really liked these works which were a combination of art, science and music.
There were some beautiful ceramic pieces selected by the artist too
The temporary exhibition Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscapes was an extensive survey of the work of this Polish artist and
highlights how the artist’s work developed from classically figurative sculptures to her later ‘awkward objects’, which are politically charged and overlaid with Surrealist and Pop Art influences. (Hepworth Website)
features more than 100 works created between 1956 and 1972 including drawings, photography and sculpture, incorporating Szapocznikow’s characteristic use of cast body parts, many of which she transformed into everyday objects like lamps or ashtrays.
Hopefully, I’ll find some time to write up more about this.
It’s become something of a tradition that on New Year’s Day we drive over the M62 to Wakefield. Last year we visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, on what ended up being a rather wild wet and windy day. Normally, however, we’ve been to the Hepworth Gallery and that’s what we decided to do for the beginning of 2016.
It’s a while since we’d been to the Hepworth – last February in fact – so other than the permanent display from the Hepworth Family Gift and the exhibition of Hepworth at Work everything else had changed since our last visit and there were six new exhibitions to see.
Making our way upstairs to the exhibitions on the first floor, we had a foretaste of what was to come, passing this work Untitled (Bent Spoons) (2015) by Enrico Davis whose works were on show in two of the rooms. Made from cashmere on canvas – textile based works have been a feature of our gallery visits over the Christmas holidays!.
In the first room at the top of the stairs, there was an exhibition of later works by Barbara Hepworth – A Greater Freedom : Hepworth 1965 – 1975
The Gallery’s website tells us
A Greater Freedom follows artistic developments in Barbara Hepworth’s later years, focusing on the last decade of the sculptor’s life from 1965 – 75.
By this point Hepworth had achieved international recognition, representing Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1950, winning the Grand Prix at the Sao Paulo Biennial of 1959, and having Single Form commissioned for the United Nations in the early 1960s. These successes afforded her opportunities to explore new ideas and processes.
During this period, she worked in different materials, which was reflected in the works on show
including a particularly attractive carved wooden, three piece on loan from Bolton Museum
I overheard someone saying that this piece looked rather like a bathroom suite
I think he had a point – but with characteristic Hepworth piercings it wouldn’t be very practical!
and even an oil painting
Genesis III (1966)
This exhibition brings together sculptures made over a period of three hundred years to explore the changing artistic significance of plaster.
There’s a particular relevance for the Hepworth as they own a large collection of Barbara Hepworth’s prototypes and works in plaster from the Hepworth family gift and have a permanent display of a selection of these.
In the second, main room there were examples of antique casts from the Royal Academy of Arts
including plaster versions of the classical works the Belvedere Torso and Discobolus. These highlight how casts were used before the invention of photography as a means of reproducing works of art for a wide international audience.
togethor with a number of works by contemporary artists
I was most interested in the first, smaller room which
address(ed) how Barbara Hepworth and her contemporaries used plaster both in the process of creating bronze sculptures and as a material in its own right.
It included plaster sculptures by Hepworth, Henry Moore, Kurt Schwitters, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s relief of two wresters (which we’d seen several years ago at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge)
together with his preliminary sketch
There was a small exhibition – Hepworth in Yorkshire – which, as the tile suggests, was about Barbara Hepworth’s time in her native Yorkshire. It included
early drawings, paintings and sculpture that show Hepworth’s natural gifts in these areas. Newspaper articles and photography document her early successes and engagement with an academic figurative style that she would soon depart from to find her own artistic voice. Photographic images Hepworth took or commissioned of Yorkshire will be presented alongside these early works, reflecting her assertion that the experience of growing up in this area was hugely influential.
In the adjacent room Des Hughes. Stretch Out and Wait was an exhibition by the contemporary artist Des Hughes inspired by Henry Moore’s Working Model of Draped Reclining Figure which the latter had donated to his home town of Castleford.
The other rooms were occupied by two exhibitions: one of sculptures and drawings by Enrico David
and the other a retrospective by Barbara Hepworth’s contemporary, Gertrude Hermes – Wild Girl. They were both excellent and deserve their own posts as this one has gone on long enough.
We’d spent a good few hours in the gallery, including eating a rather good dinner, and it was starting to turn dark as we left
Another enjoyable New Year’s day. Roll on 2017.
The first day of the New Year. For the past three years we’ve driven over the Pennines to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. Although we’ve always enjoyed the day out this year we decided on a change and headed for the nearby Yorkshore Sculpture Park to try and combine some culture with a pleasant walk in the country.
It turned out to be rather wild, wet and windy, but we didn’t let the weather spoil our day.
Barbara Hepworth – Within the Landscape is the latest exhibition showing at the Abbot Hall gallery in Kendal. We called in to see it on the way back home from our recent holiday in the Lake District. As the Gallery’s website tells us
Apart from Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective at Tate Liverpool in 1994, this is the first significant exhibition of her work in the North West for over sixty years
A large number of her works, mainly sculptures but also some prints, were displayed in the rooms on the first floor which are used for the gallery’s temporary exhibitions, but there were also three larger sculptures on the ground floor. There was also a display of photographs of and related to Barbara Hepworth in another one of the rooms upstairs.
Oval Form (Trezion) 1961-3
Abbot Hall doesn’t allow photography but they do have a number of photographs of the some of the works on display on their website. Some of the pictures used in the publicity for the exhibition show sculptures outdoors and this made me expect that some would be sited at Blackwell, as was the case with their exhibition of works by Lynn Chadwick last year, but that isn’t the case. they’re all indoors at the gallery in Kendal – except for the sculpture owned by Abbot Hall which stands on the lawn in front of the entrance to the Gallery (picture above- nothing to stop me snapping that one!). A pity, as the larger works, in particular, would be enhanced by being located outdoors in changing, natural light, rather than in the stark light of the gallery. And on the lawn at Blackwell it would be possible to observe the work from all angles, a problem with some of the works indoors and I noticed that a number of visitors had commented on this in the Visitor’s book. I have to say I agree with them, but a relatively minor quibble as I enjoyed the exhibition very much. It had a good selection of works, many of which I hadn’t seen before as they had been loaned by private collections.
This later work, Summer Dance (1972) greeted visitors to the Gallery as it was located in the entrance hall. It’s a very typical Hepworth work with large “curvaceous” pieces “punctured” with large holes. At first I though it was carved from wood, but on closer inspection it was apparent that it was cast in metal. The surface treatment was particularly attractive. A light silver on the front, but a darker bronze colour on the back.
There were examples of works in other media – stone, wood and thin metal plate, the latter sometimes twisted and manipulated into complex shapes, such as Forms in Movement (Galliard) (1956), made from a single copper sheet.
This is another one made from thin sheet metal, but in this case incorporating the strings which are a common feature of her work.
Stringed Figure (Curlew), 1956
I rather liked this simple work, Disc with strings (Moon) from 1969
From a private collection, one of the loan conditions probably accounted for it being displayed in a perspex box. This led to some interesting effects due to light being refracted through the joins in the box and illuminating parts of the sculpture.
The smooth, curved forms of many of Hepworth’s sculptures, like this one carved from Nigerian wood, are crying out to be touched and caressed – strictly forbidden of course!
Configuration (Phira) (1955)
There were several stone sculptures too, including this one, a large piece carved from a distinctive two-tone coloured Ancaster stone
Rock Face (1973)
It stood out for me as it’s large rectangular form was rather “masculine” and rather different from the curvaceous works she typically produced.
There were also a number of prints which we’d seen before as they were on loan from the Hepworth in Wakefield who had them on display until recently (and where I snapped some photos).
So another excellent exhibition at the Abbot Hall. a good survey of Hepworth’s oeuvre, showing works in all the main media she worked in with a good number that are not normally on display to the public, so there was something new even for someone who is very familiar with Hepworth’s work. It is manageable too. A good number of works, but not too many to take in during a visit and enough to make me want to go for another look in the near future. I understand that the Tate are to hold a retrospective of Hepworth’s work next year. I’m sure that will be good too, but it’s likely to be much larger and more overwhelming. That’s one of the things I like about Abbot Hall – good exhibitions which leave you feeling satisfied but not overstuffed and overwhelmed which is often the case with the “blockbusters” in London.
On Saturday we paid a visit to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. Thos time we were accompanied y our friend, Jean who’d never been before. Approaching the gallery in the car, which involves an unusual manoeuvre, driving past the gallery and then doubling back on yourself, Jean commented “what an ugly building” – not a good start as I wondered what she was going to make of the exhibits which included a major exhibition by the Austrian avant garde artist Franz West (more about that in another post). The building does seem to be rather like Marmite – you either love it or hate it – I’m in the former camp.
One of the current exhibitions, in the smaller gallery, Making a Modern Collection, celebrated the Wakefield Council’s art collection
The collection was founded in 1923 and began to develop with the help of Ernest Musgrave, the first director of Wakefield Art Gallery, and his forward-thinking collecting policy. Musgrave’s successors continued to expand the collection, which now has over 5,000 works, with the support of many organisations and individuals. (source)
The exhibition had only a small selection from the collection, but what a selection. It included works by Barbara Hepworth
Two forms (1937)
Forms, (brown, grey and white) (1941)
May 1954 (Delos) (1954)
June Horizons 1957 (1957)
Henry Moore, including one of his drawings of miners
This interesting sculpture by Kenneth Armitage
Girl without a face (version 2) (1982)
A painting by L S Lowry
A nude by Euan Uglow
Gyroscope Nude (1967)
I liked this painting of Yorkshire Landscape (1937) by Francis Butterfield
The exhibition once again demonstrated that the Council in Wakefield have had an enlightened attitude to art and culture for many years – continuing right up to today as the establishment of the Hepworth Gallery demonstrates. So again I came away feeling disappointed that my home town, with similar working class demographic and links with mining and Rugby League, is such a cultural black hole.
The McNay Art Museum have a good collection of 20th Century sculpture displayed in a gallery in the Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions , in a sculpture garden outside this wing and a few other pieces scattered throughout the grounds. There were also a few pieces displayed inside the main galleries. Here’s a selection.
Marion McNay was an American painter and art teacher who inherited a substantial oil fortune upon the death of her father. She was an enthusiastic collector of Modern Art and on her death bequeathed her collection of some 700 paintings and other works of art to found the first Modern Art Museum in Texas. The Museum has built on the bequest and now has almost 20,000 works in their collection.
The gallery spaces are light, bright, spacious and airy and there was an excellent range of works on display.
The collection particularly focuses on 19th, 20th and 21st-century European and American paintings, sculptures and photographs. It also includes medieval and renaissance works, art and artefacts from New Mexico and an extensive collection of theatre arts.
The 19th and early 20th Century is represented by artists including Monet
Post War European art included works by
and Barbara Hepworth
Not surprisingly there were a large number of works by American artists, including Joan Mitchell
Hudson River Day Line (1955)
Willem de Kooning
Eddy Farm (1964)
String Composition #T220 (1965)
and two small paintings by Jackson Pollock
I liked this little sculpture, Snake on a table (1944) by Alexander Calder
This painting by Diego Rivera was one of the first works purchased by Marion McNay.
Delfina Flores (1927) by Diego Rivera
Upstairs in the old house there works from the Medieval and Renaissance collection and the collection of artefacts from New Mexico. I wasn’t so keen on the former but rather liked the display of paintings, pottery, textiles and other objects that constituted the latter.
I particularly liked the examples of Pueblo pottery, created by Native Americans, they had on display.
Overall an excellent gallery, well worth the ride out there on the bus.
They also had a good collection of sculpture (besides the two works above). I’ll return to that in another post.
One of the exhibitions currently showing at the Manchester City Art Gallery focuses on sculpture created during a the period from just before the First World War to the present day. Covering three rooms on the first floor of the modern extension, it features works from the Gallery’s own collection together with others from the Whitworth Gallery, currently closed for refurbishment, and the Arts Council.
explores some of the imaginative ways in which the sculptural form has been re-invented from just before World War One to the present day. It does so by combining sculpture with two-dimensional works of art and designed objects to create some unexpected but visually stunning juxtapositions.
The first room – The Human Condition – concentrates on the human form. Some of the works on show are figurative, some abstract and some a bit of both.
This relief by Eric Gill is very typical of his work. A clear depiction of a human form, a religious subject, finely carved.
The development of the abstract representation of the human figure can be seen in a piece by by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and early works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
This ceramic head by Stephen Dixon (Liu Xiaobo 2012), created in honour of the Chinese human rights campaigner and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize
and this crystal skull replete with flashing interior lights by Tony Oursler
were both very popular, attracting a lot of attention from visitors.
As well as sculpture the exhibition includes some “two dimensional works” some inspired by sculpture, some ideas for sculpture and some by sculptors including Henry Moore.
The second room – Abstraction – did what it said on the tin featuring abstract works by artists including Anthony Caro, Alison Wearing and Barbara Hepworth – this is her Sphere with Inner Form (1963)
I particularly liked a couple of aluminium reliefs
Relief (1965) by Jean Spencer, which could almost have been a fabricated industrial component
and, especially, the sensuous, curved forms of Icarus (1967) by John Milne.
I’m a sucker for simple abstract sculptures like this (Rotterdam Relief, 2005, by Toby Patterson) made from a transparent perspex panel and which uses light and shadows to great effect.
The final section – Transformation – concentrated on works made from everyday objects. They included this abstract beast by Lyn Chadwick,
and this work Ridged Vessel, (2014) by Claire Malet. which was commissioned by the Gallery.
It’s not immediately obvious but this remarkable piece started out as a commercially produced olive oil tin.
I collect used steel cans and scrap copper with which to work. Each vessel is worked entirely with hand tools. The interiors are gilded with genuine gold leaf and copper leaf, bringing a distinctive richness and volcanic appearance to my work. I take an experimental approach to working with metal, allowing the medium to suggest a direction and often pushing it to the limits of workability, accelerating decay. This has led me to discover techniques that produce qualities similar to those found in nature. Through this process I aim to transform a mundane man-made object into a form to be treasured. The result is a fusion of intentional form and the natural characteristics of the medium.
Kenwood House stands on the north end of Hampstead Heath. A magnificent sight situated on the top of a hill with views extending over the Heath as far as the centre of London with the modern skyscrapers visible in the distance.
Although we’ve stayed in Hampstead a few times over the last couple of years before our latest visit the house was closed for renovation. But it reopened recently and a visit was a must during our short break early January to see the house and it’s renowned collection of paintings.
There’s been a house on the site since the early 17th Century. It’s changed over the years but the magnificent white neo-Classical style building created by by the Scottish architect Robert Adam, who, with his brother James, remodelled and extended the building for William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, between 1764 and 1779. Today it’s owned by the English Heritage after it was bequeathed to the nation, together with a collection of Old Master and British paintings, in 1925 by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh (1847–1927).
When we arrived we were amazed to find that entry was free. The first time ever for a visit to an English Heritage property! But I later discovered that free entry was a condition of the Iveagh bequest.
Entrance was on the north of the house via this neo-Classical portico with it’s fluted Ionic order columns and triangular pediment, which was part of the remodelling by Robert and James Adam.
Inside, the main architectural interest was Adam’s rather magnificent library, or ‘Great Room’.
Although lined with books the room was mainly used for entertaining. (I wonder if anyone actually read the books – they were probably mainly for show, to impress visitors that the owner was well read and educated.) The room is beautifully proportioned and has a stunning ceiling featuring paintings by Antonio Zucchi, and It has a decorative frieze. I snapped the above photo on my phone and it really wasn’t possible to get a decent shot that does justice to this room that is considered (according to the guidebook!) to be is one of Adam’s greatest interiors. There’s a better photo here (no visitors to get in the way!) together with some information on the restoration work.
During the recent renovation English Heritage had extensive paint analysis undertaken and have restored Adam’s original rather restrained powder blue and white decorative scheme, which has almost a Modernist look. Looking at pictures in the guidebook it was much more heavily decorated with lots of gilding and bright colours. I reckon it’s probably an improvement, but then I don’t like over fussy decoration. I don’t know whether regular visitors would agree. It would be interesting to read any comments on this (What do you think Milady?)
There are three other main surviving Adam interiors – the entrance hall, Great Stairs and antechamber. They have clearly been changed over time, but the English Heritage website tells us that
they retain considerable fabric and character from Adam’s time
Another attraction for us was the art collection, that had been
There were numerous portraits from the major portrait painters from the second half of the 18th century. Works by Gainsborough, Reynolds and George Romney, who we have got to know very well due to the collection of his works held by Abbot Hall in his home town of Kendal. We are now able to recognise his works at first glance! The Romney paintings included several featuring his muse Emma Hart – better known as Lady Hamilton.
Emma Hart at Prayer by George Romney
There were also a significant collection of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish paintings including a self-portrait Rembrandt’s (c 1665)
But, for me, this little beauty was the best of the lot.
The Guitar Player (c 1672), Johannes Vermeer
There were also sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore in the grounds.
Monolith-Empyrean (1953) Barbara Hepworth
We didn’t explore the grounds and gardens, it was far too muddy underfoot. We’ll save that for another time.