Tyred out at the Hepworth


The Calder is a the Hepworth Wakefield’s “contemporary art space” located in a 19th century mill next to the main building which opened last year. So what’s inside?


The large room was completely filled with lots and lots of old tyres of different sizes. This was a recreation of “YARD”, a work devised in 1961 by the American artist Allan Kaprow. The Hepworth’s website tells us that:

YARD was first realised by artist Allan Kaprow (USA, 1927 – 2006) in 1961 in the open-air sculpture garden behind the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York as part of the group exhibition Environments, Situations, Spaces. Five existing sculptures in the courtyard, including works by Barbara Hepworth and Alberto Giacometti, were wrapped in protective tar paper before Kaprow filled the space with hundreds of car tyres. Dispersed in no particular order, Kaprow encouraged visitors to walk on, climb, rearrange and interact with them.

Filling a large room with old tyres. Is that art? well it certainly isn’t a traditional work where visitors passively look at a picture, sculpture, video or installation. YARD is meant to be an active experience. On entering the space we were asked to sign a disclaimer and then were invited to walk or scrabble over the tyres, move them around, pile them up, basically anything we wanted to so long as it wasn’t going to injure anyone (so no throwing them around).


And that’s exactly what people were doing, especially the family groups who were visiting. The kids seemed to be really enjoying themselves – as were the two young members of staff who were making their own creations – a haphazard pyramid and a giant prone figure.


It rather reminded me of the ball pools that they have in IKEA, but in this case older kids and adults were allowed to join in. And all the visitors appeared to be having great fun!

We didn’t make a lot of effort ourselves – we didn’t want to get our clothes dirty!. But we did scramble over the piles and move a few around. But to be honest we enjoyed watching the family groups and younger adults getting stuck in.

Is it art? Well I’m no expert, and I have to admit that I was sceptical before our visit, but afterwards I’d changed my mind. It wasn’t “beautiful” but people were engaging with the work, changing it, making their own creations and enjoying themselves. Surely that’s what art is supposed to be about.

Return to the Hepworth


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)

Ben Nicholson


May 1954 (Delos) (1954)

Patrick Heron


June Horizons 1957 (1957)

Henry Moore, including one of his drawings of miners

Henry Moore Pit Boys

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.

Henry Moore’s Reclining Figures at the Hepworth

Walking up the top of the stairs at the Hepworth on New Years day we were greeted by a display of three large reclining figure sculptures by Henry Moore. Hailing from nearby Castleford, he was a local lad. Two of the sculptures, one carved from elm wood and a second cast in bronze (from 1962), are from the Hepworth's own collection.


The third, a large four piece polished bronze work is on loan. This is one of his later works from the 1970's and is the sight that greets visitors reaching the top of the stairs and entering the exhibition space.

It's a very striking work; partly because of its size but also because of its highly polished finish. Although it wasn't my favourite. That was the earliest of thre three works – the one carved from elmwood and created in 1932.
To me it's a very attractive piece. A warm colour and texture with a very pleasing effect created by the grain of the wood. And it was very difficult to avoid succumbing to temptation and running my hands across the smooth surface – strictly fobidden of course. But visitors were allowed to touch the Hepworth's bronze (nott he shiney one), providing special gloves which the Gallery had available and would supply to visitors, were worn.
There were also three smaller figures – maquettes- on display in a glass cabinet.
It was only a small display, but coming from different periods of Moore's life, showed how hos approach to the reclining figure, a major theme throughout his career, changed and developed.



Down t’pit


On the way back from the Hepworth in Wakefield the other Saturday we stopped off at the National Coal Mining Museum for England at the former Caphouse Colliery at Overton. We’d seen signs for the museum many times when visiting the Hepworth and the nearby Yorkshire Sculpture Park and had intended to pay a visit for quite a while. Although there are no pits left open in Lancashire these days (and not many in Britain as a whole – and we all know who was responsible for that) at one time Wigan was the capital of a major coalfield and quite a few generations from my Mother’s side of the family were employed as miners or were otherwise connected with the mining industry.


Entry to the museum, and car parking, is free. On arrival you pay £2 per person and are given a “check” token like miners used to hand in before they went down the shaft so there was a check on who was underground. You can give the check in after the visit and reclaim your money, but I guess most visitors do what we did and keep the check as a souvenir and leave the money as a donation.

Although it’s interesting to explore the pit head buildings, the highlight of the visit is the guided tour underground. All the guides are ex-miners and as well as explaining the history of mining have their own tales of what it was like to work down the pit.


Before you go down, you queue up to collect your helmet and lamp and hand in anything that could present a risk of explosion – that included anything with a battery such as mobile phones, cameras and car key fobs. One of the many hazards in a coal mine is “fire damp” – a mixture of explosive gases, the main one being methane.

After a quick briefing we were shown the “furnace shaft”. This shaft, 140 metres deep, was sunk during the early days of mining on the site. A fire was lit at the bottom of the shaft and as the hot gases rose cooler air was drawn into the mine through the lift shaft, providing ventilation. Not such a good idea, though – lighting a fire where there might be explosive gases!


The shaft is now covered by a special, toughened glass, and brave visitors can stand looking right down into the abyss below their feet.

Then it was into the lift which descended down to the bottom of the mine – but at a much slower speed than would have been the case when the pit was producing coal.

The underground tour normally takes around an hour and fifteen minutes. Ours took a little longer as about half our group was French, and the guide made special efforts to make sure they all understood what he had to say, translation for the French children be provided by the adults. No photos, of course – our cameras and phones had been left on the surface.

Walking round a circular route, there were displays that illustrated the ways coal was mined in Britain, starting in pre-Victorian times when whole family groups, including young children, men and women, would work together underground in unbelievable bad conditions. Most of the time in the dark as candles had to be bought by the miners from the owners and were expensive.

We gradually worked our way through the centuries, eventually reaching the late 20th Century where we there were examples of the machinery used to cut through the coal, excavate the tunnels and roadways and prop up the ceiling.

Although we were able to walk around the mine, only occasionally dipping heads to avoid a bump, when it was a working pit the ceiling height would have been determined by the height of the seam – rarely more than 3 feet. The miners would have had to crawl where we could walk. And it would have been tremendously noisy and dusty and there was an ever present risk of exposure to toxic and explosive gases. Most miners would have developed occupational disease – noise induced deafness and respiratory disease including silicosis and lung cancer from exposure to the dust. And the work itself present risks from falls, explosions and entanglement in machinery.

Returning to the surface, we spent an hour exploring the pit buildings, including the winding house


where we were able to see the engine and that at one time would have been used to pull the lift up and down the shaft


and the pit head baths where the miners would have changed and showers before returning home after their shift


It might seem hard to believe, but these were a relatively late innovation, mine owners being too mean to provide them. They were often paid for by the miners themselves or by charitable organisations. And in some pits they were only installed after the nationalisation of the mines in 1945.

There were also pit ponies


and a locomotive to look at


and exhibitions about miners, their lives and communities, and mining equipment.


Time ran out before we were able to explore the whole site, and it would be worth paying another visit in the not too distant future.

It wasn’t pleasant being a miner – even in the 20th Century. But it was work. And the the nature of the industry and the type of work meant that miners needed to develop strong ties with their workmates. They relied on each other to stay alive. And strong, close knit communities consequently developed. Sadly, all this is gone. Although we’re still sitting on top of a lot of coal, it is expensive to mine and although coal is still burned to produce power in the UK today it’s cheap foreign coal that’s easier to extract that’s used. It is a “dirty” means of producing electricity, but the passing of a once great industry and the destruction of the communities, was done in one swoop  without a thought for the people who relied on it and their futures. Many of them still haven’t recovered .

James Pyman’s “Upper Mill” at the Hepworth

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James Pyman is an illustrator known for his detailed draughtsmanship. He was commissioned by the Hepworth, Wakefield to create a large scale art work which has been installed outside the gallery.

There’s an old, abandoned mill that stands on the banks of the River Calder, directly opposite the entrance to the gallery. The artist produced very detailed pencil drawings of three sides of the building. These have been enlarged and printed onto fabric which has been “wrapped” around the actual structure, supported on scaffolding on the outside of the mill. So the illustration is actually larger than the real thing. The result is that observers can see what the mill looks like without actually seeing it.

The drawing is very realistic and from a distance could easily be mistaken for the real thing.



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Upper Mill will be on show until July 2013. It will be interesting to see what the mill looks like once the wrap is removed. Will it have deteriorated further or will the wrap have protected it from damage by the elements?

Barbara Hepworth’s hospital drawings

Barbara Hepworth was one of the most important 20th Century British sculptors, producing a large oeuvre of abstract works. It’s less known that, like her friend and contemporary, Henry Moore, she was a talented draughtsperson creating a fairly significant number of drawings. One of the highlights of our visit to the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield on New Year’s Day was the exhibition of drawings she produced in hospitals over a two-year period between 1947 and 1949.

Barbara Hepworth, Concentration of Hands II, 1948 ©Bowness, Hepworth Estate (Picture source: Hepworth website)

The drawings came about when she was invited to observe procedures in the operating theatre at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter and at a London clinic by the surgeon Norman Capener who had treated her daughter when Sarah in 1944, for osteomyelitis of the thigh. She created over 70 drawings, and a large number were on display at the Hepworth together with contextual materials including extracts from her sketchbooks. Many of the individual works are from private collections, so this was a very rare opportunity to see so many collected together.

There’s a good selection of pictures from the exhibition shown on the Guardian website.

Although some of the drawings are chalk, ink or pencil sketches on paper, many of them were created by incising pencil marks and applying oil paint on a pseudo-gesso ground of roughly applied Ripolin paint. Her technique is described  on the Tate website discussing another drawing, Two Figures (Heroes) 1954, that they own and is on display in her former studio in St Ives:

A thick white oil ground – probably of household paint – was brushed on to the smooth face of the hardboard to give a hard, textured surface. A thin glaze of brown oil paint was applied and then scraped down, in areas to the white ground. The main design was drawn over the paint in black pencil, probably with the aid of a ruler; sections of the resulting grid were filled in with strong colours – red, black, blue, grey – and a pale grey was washed over some areas.

Detail from Reconstruction 1947 (Picture source: Hepworth website)

Hepworth is best known as an abstract artist, but these drawings, taking people as their subject, are clearly figurative. Yet there is an abstract quality to them. She concentrates very much on the eyes and hands of the surgeons and other hospital staff. These are the only parts of the body that can be seen when the staff are gowned up. The rest of the bodies are portrayed in much less detail, in an almost abstract style. And the patients hardly feature at all in the pictures.

It’s the hands and the eyes that clearly interested her.  The eyes reveal the intense concentration and the hands are finely manipulating the tools and surgical instruments. In most of the pictures, such as the one above, the surgeons could almost be sculptors carving wood or stone. Hepworth acknowledged that she saw the methods and approach of  the surgeons she observed as being very similar to those of sculptors. In a lecture delivered to an audience of surgeons in the early 1950s, shortly after she completed the series Hepworth observed that:

“There is, it seems to me, a close affinity between the work and approach both of physicians and surgeons, and painters and sculptors.”

And writing elsewhere of her experience of observing the surgeons at work

I expected that I should dislike it; but from the moment when I entered the operating theatre I became completely absorbed by two things: first, the co-ordination between human beings all dedicated to the saving of a life, and the way that unity of idea and purpose dictated a perfection of concentration, movement, and gesture, and secondly by the way this special grace (grace of mind and body), induce a spontaneous space composition, an articulated and animated kind of abstract sculpture very close to what I had been seeking in my own work.

Some critics seem to detect similarities to religious paintings in the composition of the drawings, like those she saw in Italy during her time studying there in her early twenties. But to me the main theme of these works is the “nobility of work” and in that I see a very close affinity with the drawings by Henry Moore of coal miners

The exhibition finishes at the Hepworth on 3rd February. However there will be an opportunity to see it at the Pallant House Gallery, Chichecter and Mascall’s Gallery, Paddock Wood, Kent later this year.

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.

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.