Another New Year’s Day at the Hepworth


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

Wooden sculpture


including a particularly attractive carved wooden, three piece on loan from Bolton Museum


Marble sculptures


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)

Working clockwise round the first floor, he next two rooms were occupied by the exhibition Plasters:Casts and Copies, which did exactly what it said on the tin, as the Gallery’s website tells us

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


Jean Arp


and others.

There was a small exhibition – Hepworth in Yorkshirewhich, 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.

Barbara Hepworth Graphic Works


Another new exhibition at the Hepworth features a large number of prints – lithographs and screen prints – by Barbara Hepworth.


Although primarily known as a sculptor, she was a talented draughtswoman, as shown by the exhibition of her hospital drawings that we saw at the gallery on New year’s day. She also put ideas down on paper that she would later develop as sculptures and some of her ideas were also recorded in  a number of print portfolios between 1969 and 1971 The Hepworth own a number of these and are showing examples in Gallery 6 along with a number of related sculptures from the same period. About  twenty of these graphic works will be on display at one time and the they’ll be changed during the exhibition period in order to show the entire body of work.




In this example, Oblique forms, from 1968-9,


we can see how the drawings reflect her sculptures


Three Oblique forms 1967

although in this case as the graphic work was created after the sculpture the former clearly influenced the latter.

Similarly the form illustrated in this  print


is very similar to this sculpture


Pears pots and frying pans – William Scott at the Hepworth

William Scott

We went over to the Hepworth in Wakefield last Saturday. There’s been quite a few changes since our last visit on New Year’s Day with new exhibitions of works by Barbara Hepworth, Haroon Mirrza and William Scott.

The Scott exhibition marks the centenary of his birth and was first shown at Tate St Ives; it will travel on to the Ulster Museum in Belfast when it finishes at the Hepworth.  The exhibition is meant to “evolves” as it transfers between the galleries, so I imaging there have been some changes at the Hepworth compared to the Tate show.

It’s a comprehensive exhibition, covering the whole of his career. his early work was figurative but he soon began to concentrate on predominantly abstract paintings.  As with most temporary exhibitions, photography wasn’t allowed, but there are some examples of the works on show here and here.

And this video, from the Tate, which was produced while the exhibition was being shown at their gallery in St Ives, discusses his work and includes some of the pictures on display

William Scott, ‘Seated Nude’ 1939

Seated Nude 1939

Although he could turn his hand to subjects such as nudes (early in his career, particularly, the above example shown in the exhibition featured his wife) and landscapes, many of his paintings were still lives of fruit (he particularly seemed to like painting pears), fish and pots and pans. And frying pans were a dominant feature in many of his works. He is noted for commenting that “if the guitar was to Braque his Madonna, the frying pan could be my guitar.” In early paintings they were relatively realistic, but over time they became more and mrore abstract, eventually being reduced to a simple motif like in this painting, which was one of my favourites from those included in the exhibition.


Still Life with Orange Note, 1970

I also liked this pure abstract painting

William Scott, ‘Berlin Blues 4’ 1965

Berlin Blues 4 1965 (Source: Tate website)

As the name implies it was one of a series he painted during his time in Berlin in 1963-4. He chose the title, not because he was feeling depressed living in the city, but because it was started in Berlin and he discovered the particular blue pigment he used for while he was there.

I thought it was an excellent exhibition and will definitely replay a repeat visit, so we’ll be driving over the Pennines again before the end of September.


(I enjoyed reading this review of the exhibition by Andy Parkinson of “Patterns that Connect”)

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.

Small scale Post War British Sculptures at the Hepworth

post war

The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield seems to regularly refresh the works that it displays in Rooms 2 and 3. We’ve visited three times since it opened and there’s been a different exhibition showing on each occasion. They’ve all involved a mix of works from Wakefield Council’s own collection with loans from other galleries and collectors.

The current exhibition concentrates on British sculpture and painting in the decades after the Second World War. It was a period  of political, social and economic uncertainty and this was reflected in the works of young artists.

Room two is a relatively small and intimate space and the gallery tends to display smaller works here. And this is the case with the current exhibition.

Entering the gallery the eye is drawn to the brightly lit display of small sculptures and maquettes at the far end of the gallery which includes works by Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink, Reg Butler, Bernard Meadows, Geoffery Clarke Lynn Chadwick and Austin Wright.  A number of these names were new to me. Unfortunately, photography isn’t allowed in this exhibition, so I’ve pinched the above picture from the Hepworth website.

There were other sculptures on display and some prints and pictures. In most cases the pictures were  linked with one of the sculptures. There was a monoprint by Geoffrey ClarkePreliminary Ideas for Unknown Political Prisoner, 1951,  and a maquette for the same work was displayed on the table – it’s 3rd from the left in the photograph. This work was produced as an entry in an international sculpture competition organised by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London in 1952 for a memorial to commemorate ‘all those unknown men and women who in our time have been deprived of their lives or their liberty in the cause of human freedom’. There’s more about the competition and Clarke’s entry on the Tate website here. The competition was won by Reg Butler, one of whose works Young Woman Standing, 1951-2, which is owned by Wakefield Council, also features in the exhibition (3rd from the right in the photo).  It’s quite a delicate model made from wire, and I thought it was quite attractive. (Unfortunately I couldn’t turn up any pictures of it on the Internet).  Some contextual materials, letters, photographs and pamphlets, about this work and also his entry in the Political Prisoner monument competition are displayed in a cabinet at the other end of the room from the main display of sculptures.  The Tate website has a picture of the model of Butler’s entry together with some information about it on here.

There was a drawing by Austin Wright, Dispersal, 1955, which showed figures that were very similar to those modelled in his small lead sculpture The Argument, 1955 (it can be seen on the far right of the photograph).

There were a number of other sculptures and associated sketches and drawings on display that I liked, including Lynn Chadwick’s Conjunction, 1953 and Leslie Thornton’s Dying warrior, 1956.

Lynn Chadwick, ‘Conjunction’ 1953

Conjunction, 1953 Lynn Chadwick (picture source Tate website)

Although I enjoyed looking around the larger room too, I particularly liked these and the other small scale works which were displayed very effectively. And it’s always good to discover works that I like by artists who are new to me – in this case many of them northeners.  It was especially enjoyable seeing the preparatory studies and other contextual materials linked to the works and I thought that the curators had done a particularly good job with the exhibits in this room

Crazy paving, Willow twigs and a china clay waterfall

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We finally got over to the Hepworth Wakefield yesterday to see the Richard LongArtists Rooms” exhibition which is taking place until 14 October. There are works from the Tate, the National Museum of Wales and a private collection as well as two new site-specific commissions. It was as good as we expected.

One thing about Richard Long is that the titles he gives his creations are pretty clear cut – typically describing their form or shape and what they are made of.

In room10 there were three works

Cornish Slate Ellipse, 2009 is constructed from irregular blocks of a pale grey slate laid out in a random, but deliberate, structured, pattern.


It’s similar to the South Bank Circle that’s currently on display in the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, although, as the title describes, its elliptical rather than a circle. As the blocks are near enough the same height, the work is almost two dimensional.


The second piece laid out on the floor in room 10, Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle, 2011, is different. Not just because it’s a circle rather than an ellipse. The stone is more colourful with veins of red (probably iron oxide) running through many of the blocks. The individual blocks are also much more irregular in shape and height and had a “rougher”, less finished appearance. As a consequence the work was much more three dimensional .

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I thought it was a more interesting work due to this variability in shape, height and colour.


The third work in gallery 12, Water Falls, 2012, had been created especially for the exhibition. A large black rectangle had been painted on one of the walls, extending from the floor to the ceiling. On this, the artist had painted swirling patterns at the top and the middle using a thin slurry of china clay. Drips of this slurry extended down the walls



Some of the slurry had hit the floor and bounced back upwards creating a denser region of clay at the bottom of the wall.



Somerset Willow Line, a work from 1980, had been installed in Room 7. This consists of a large number of willow twigs, about a foot long, laid out in a seemingly random pattern on the floor to create a long narrow path.


It was an interesting work although I agree with the review on the Aesthetica Magazine blog about the lack of contrast between the willow twigs and the mid grey coloured floor spoiling the effect, at least to some extent.


Also in Room 7 there was a “text work” inscribed along one of the walls


I thought this was much less interesting than the other works on display.

In the smaller Room 8, there were a photographs of a number of his works created in situ in the “wild” and a couple of books he had made where the pages had been dipped in river water or mud which had been allowed to dry out creating some interesting patters and effects.

I find his works interesting but also I find them calming. They appear simple but have layers of complexity in the way they are constructed. At first glance the stones, twigs and patterns of paint appear as if they have been laid out randomly, but they have clearly be laid out quite deliberately. This can be seen on the video of Richard Long installing the works which can be seen on the Hepworth’s website.

I also noticed something when I was looking at the photographs I took during the visit (photography was allowed in the exhibition – a pleasant change) after I downloaded from my camera during the evening. They were colour photographs, but as the materials he works with a predominantly grey, black and white or pale coloured, and the walls and floors in the gallery are light grey, it almost looks as if I’d taken monochrome shots.

Visiting the Hepworth involves a trip over the Pennines – a 75 minute drive over the M62. But it was well worth it to see this exhibition.

There’s an interview with Richard Long on the Guardian website here.

New Year’s day at the Hepworth

It’s nice to have a good break over the Christmas holidays, but after a few days stuck in the house I start to get itchy feet. So on New Years day we decided to go out for the day. It was a pretty miserable day – wet and windy – so a walk in the countryside didn’t sound too appealing. So, particularly as we the roads to be quiet as many people would be nursing their hangovers, we decided to drive over the M62 to the Hepworth Wakefield. We’d been before in August, but there was plenty to see and there had been a few changes, including a new temporary exhibition “The Unquiet Head by Clare Woods.

There were some changes to the exhibits in the first couple of galleries. The “Cosdon Head” had gone from Gallery 1 – back to Birmingham no doubt – and in Gallery 2 there was an exhibition of drawings selected from Wakefield Council’s collection. I particularly liked the drawings by Henry Moore from his time as a war artist and by Barbara Hepworth. There was also a small lithograph by Picasso.

Henry Moore Pit Boys

Henry Moore drawing of Pit Boys during the Second World War - picture source Hepworth website

The Clare Woods exhibition displayed a number of large paintings, created using strongly coloured enamel paints applied to aluminium, in three of the gallery’s rooms, which were created specifically for the Hepworth. Most of the paintings are extremely large. Some are more than six metres high and others ten metres wide. Given their size these large paintings were made up of several panels joined together.

Clare Woods at THW

Clare Woods at the Hepworth Wakefield - picture source Hepworth website

According to the Hepworth’s website

Clare Woods will explore her interest in the power and history of rock formations in the British landscape, and its various manifestations in the works of artists such as Hepworth, Moore, Sutherland, Piper and Nash.

Her work is abstract, but those in the first and third rooms clearly represent rock formations like those found on windswept moorland.

Her use of enamel paints was interesting as she’s not the only modern artist working in that medium. George Shaw, who was nominated for the Turner Prize last year (many people think he should have won), creates pictures using Humbrol enamels, more typically used to paint model aircraft. His subject matter and style is quite different to Clare’s. He paints very realistic, photographic, images of the housing estate in Coventry where he grew up, very different from the abstract works in the exhibition. Clare’s paintings are dominated by strong, bright colours whereas George’s are painted in more subdued, earthy tones. Yet there are parallels. Besides using similar media, both artists are inspired by landscapes, even if they are different, and both work from photographs –

Clare Woods’ paintings are derived from her photographs of undergrowth and vegetation, which are taken at night, often in desolate, contested or overlooked locations such as areas of scrub or deep woodland. (Source here)

There’s a parallel with another artist too – David Hockney who, for the last few years, been creating paintings of the East Yorkshire landscape, many of them, like Clare’s work, very large in scale and painted on several individual canvases.

I like abstract works  particularly those inspired by the landscape. However, I actually preferred the smaller works displayed in the middle room, with images that resembled heads.

There’s a short film about the exhibition on Youtube

Hepworth Wakefield – The exhibition


Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield. She didn’t live there that long, moving down to London to study at the Royal College of Art when she was 0nly 17, she stayed down south, living in Hampstead and then St Ives. But the local Council are proud of the local girl who became one of the 20th Century’s major British artists and this new gallery in it’s landmark building that opened in May this year is devoted to her work.

The local Council had an enlightened approach to art and the original Wakefield Art Gallery, founded in 1923, built up a significant collection of contemporary art including works by Hepworth, Henry Moore (another local lad from Castleford, which is only a few miles away) and other leading British artists working during the 20th Century. The following short film produced by the Guardian gives a good brief overview of how the collection was built up.

Click here for Guardian video

Six of the ten galleries within the building are devoted to Barbara Hepworth, her work, influences and the St Ives School of which she was a leading member. There are also a number of sculptures outside the building in the pleasantly landscaped gardens.

The exhibits are drawn from the collection owned by Wakefield Council together with loans from the Tate and other sources. Although there are a number of works by Hepworth, the majority are by other artists from her circle and others who influenced her work.

In Gallery 1 there were 5 sculptures by Hepworth which attempted to show the range of her work. There were three wooden pieces, the Cosdon Head from 1949 carved from blue marble. I was less keen on the geometrically perfect Cone and Sphere  from 1973 made of white marble which I felt were were cold and somewhat sterile compared to the warmth and curvaceous forms of the wood.

She is particularly adept when working in wood where, as an advocate of being “true tot the materials” works with the natural contours. This is particularly true of the tall upright Figure (Nanjizal)”  carved from yew. I particularly liked the indentations she made in the cavities she carved in the wood using her chisel, creating a pitted surface which contrasts with the smooth, polished outer surfaces.

Gallery 2 showed works from Wakefield’s collection including early sculptures and drawings by Hepworth and Henry Moore. It was particularly interesting to see the drawings. Of the paintings displayed I particularly liked those by John Piper, Patrick Heron, Francis Butterfield and Roger Fry.

The display in Gallery 3 was titled “Hepworth in Context” and included works by a significant number of British and European artists who had influenced Hepworth’s work. It provided an interesting overview of how British Art in the 20th Century became influenced by European Modernism leading to a move away from literal representations to more abstract work.

Galleries 4 and 5 were devoted to Hepworth’s work with plaster to create her bronze sculptures, made possible by the Hepworth Family Gift, a donation of a large number of working models. Gallery 4 explained her methods by examples of her work, visuals and videos,  with the majority of the models, some very large, displayed in Gallery 5.


Hepworth loved to carve and these displays showed how even the production of her bronze pieces she was able to incorporate carving by working on the plaster models used to produce the castings. In many of her bronze pieces the surface textures reflects this.


When she became an established artist Hepworth produced some very large bronze works for commissions for John Lewis, the Pepsi Corporation, the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society and the United Nations. The displays included information on how all of these works were created. It was particularly fascinating to see the massive full scale model of the “Winged Figure”  commissioned by John Lewis for their Oxford Street Store in London. It dominated Gallery 5.


It was fascinating, and educative, to view the displays in these two galleries. I thought the Hepworth had done a good job in explaining how she worked and I certainly came away having learned about how  the bronze sculptures were created.

Hepworth is particularly associated with the St Ives where she lived from 1945 until her death in 1975. She was one of the central figures in the community of artists that gathered in the small Cornish seaside town leading to an explosion of innovative abstract art. In Gallery 6 there was a large collection of works from the St Ives School. I’ve never seen so many pieces from this significant group of artists displayed together. It was worth the trip over to Wakefield for this alone.

There are three works by Hepworth displayed outdoors. Leaning over the end of the bridge leading up to the gallery from the car park you can see three figures from the “Family of man” series of bronze sculptures, from 1970. The whole group can be seen displayed very effectively at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park only a few miles outside the town.


You can also see her  “Ascending Form (Gloria)” from 1958 and “Hollow form with Inner form” (1968). There’s a plaster prototype of the latter in Gallery 5 and it was interesting to compare the two. The inner form was positioned slightly differently in the final version. I think Hepworth must have changed her mind when she’d tried out her ideas in creating the plaster model and I felt that the final bronze was an improvement.



Also outside is a large wooden structure, “The Black Cloud”, created by Heather and Ivan Morrison. Its a cross between sculpture and architecture – – a type of artistic tent or gazebo, intended to be used a a “multi-functional social space ….. an outdoor shelter for people to gather, relax, entertain and enjoy the waterfront location”. It’s an interesting piece with which visitors can interact. It does seem to be in a vulnerable location and I do hope it doesn’t become vandalised.


The Hepworth also has 4 other rooms that are for temporary exhibitions. These were taken up with “Hot Touch”, an exhibition of works by by the Irish sculptor Eva Rothschlild. I found it interesting. I liked some, but not all of her pieces. But I’ve rabbited on enough in  this post already. So that’s probably a topic for another post.

The Hepworth Wakefield – Architecture


The Hepworth art gallery in Wakefield was opened in May this year. We finally got round to visiting it yesterday. It’s the largest new gallery since Tate St Ives in 1993 and cost £35m to build. The local Labour Council of this rugby league loving, working class town hope that the project will help to regenerate a run-down area of the town centre – in the way the Guggenheim in Bilbao revitalised that industrial city. Unfortunately, given the economic situation and the way the Tory/Liberal coalition are viciously cutting back on public spending, it’s unlikely that we’ll see anything similar built for a long time. Culture for the masses isn’t seen as a priority for a government led by and serving the privileged elite.

The Hepworth was designed by David Chipperfield Architects, who were awarded the contract after winning a RIBA international competition launched by Wakefield Council.  The design has met with some mixed reviews, particularly about its external appearance as it is constructed of grey pigmented concrete.

It was interesting to be able to see the building particularly after watching the third and final programme in the Channel 4 programme “The Secret Life of Buildings” last Monday. This episode considered buildings used for leisure, including museums and galleries, and one of the key points the presenter, Tom Dyckhoff, made, was that starting with the Guggenheim, museums are often designed as “individualistic, flashy, narcissistic icons” which are often not well suited to their purpose. In other words the “form” of the building is everything and the “function” is of lesser importance.  The building itself becomes the work of art and the architect neglects the need for it to work as a successful space to display works of art.

For me a for a building design to be successful, it must first achieve its intended function and be attractive. Although not everyone may agree, I think Chipperfield’s Hepworth achieves both of these objectives.

Of course, modern architecture always has a mixed reception. So, not unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Hepworth’s design is not universally popular.

“Relentlessly grey – as though the image of the North isn’t grey enough already – it has been likened to a collection of sloping sheds, a bunker, a prison and a secret-police headquarters.” (Yorkshire Post)

However, with some possible reservations about the colour, I like it.

The design is relatively simple. There is very little in the way of ornamentation. It consists of ten interlinked, irregularly shaped and ridged boxes. The lines of the building are all straight – there are no curves, but it is not monotonous, The placing of the “boxes” break up structure and the roofs slope.


The exterior surfaces are grey with a purplish tinge. Its made of pigmented concrete in a return to the “Brutalism” of the 60’s and 70’s. Many of those buildings have not stood the test of time. Bare concrete does not always bear the ravages of the British climate, becoming stained and crumbling. One difference is that the earlier style was to use rough concrete surfaces, the Hepworth’s are smooth. I think that makes a big difference.

Although at the moment the surfaces are clean and pristine, we’ll have to see how well it lasts. I also worry about how long it will be before graffiti appears on the walls. I hope they’re easy to clean.

I wonder whether a lighter, more cheerful colour might have been more appropriate. Grey can be depressing. However, I didn’t find the colour unappealing even though it was rather a grey day when we visited. Surface colour changes with lighting conditions, and I’d like to see how it looked on one of those rare days when the skies are blue and the sun is shining.

The gallery sits on a bend of River Calder, next to a weir and it’s waterside setting enhances the building. This location has also helped to make the building “environmentally friendly” as the river’s flow has been utilised to provide the majority of the heating and cooling. The approach from the car-park (which is too small) is over a curving bridge which crosses the Calder and the initial view emphasises the jagged, angular design.



Overall, then, I found the building attractive – but what about how well it fulfils it’s function?

The entrance leads into a large, airy lobby. Off this there is the obligatory book shop and cafe, toilets, administrative offices and an educational room. A wide staircase leads up into the gallery space. There are a number of bright, white rooms, of various sizes and shapes determined by the individual trapezoid blocks. They are not simply cuboid, but many of them have sloping ceilings.  The rooms were flooded with natural light from a number of large windows and from  carefully placed skylights that create “wells” of light.  I felt they were excellent spaces for displaying art. The windows allow views of the surroundings – not all of them attractive. But it is pleasant to look out over the river if the. A window has been provided on one side of the building to allow visitors to look out at the medieval Gothic Chantry chapel and the old medieval bridge over the Calder. It’s a pity that the ugly modern road bridge obstructs the view.

So for me, the building is a success. It works well as a gallery while being interesting and attractive. I expect I’ll be going back again to see exhibitions here again in the future. It will be interesting to see how the building stands the test of time.