Sunday 22 February 2015

The Hepworth, Wakefield


The Hepworth, Wakefield.

David Chipperfield who designed the building, describes it as 'dipping its toes in the water'. The building 'dips into' not just the river Calder, but one of its weirs as well. The angry church of water crashing against the concrete produces a very dramatic effect.

The building consists of a cluster of 10 connected concrete blocks each containing a single gallery space.
Floor-to-ceiling windows afford views of the river as well as the Victorian warehouses from the days of Wakefield's industrial past.

This was our first visit to the Hepworth and we were very impressed. We liked the architecture; enjoyed the displays enormously; found the staff extremely friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about the works on art on display; and finally, the food in the café is delicious.


The purpose of our visit was primarily to see the Lynda Benglis exhibition. Seeing the Hepworths was a real pleasure, and we also enjoyed some of the other artists' work, a very small selection of which you can see in this post.

Henry Moore, Open Work Head No. 2, 1950 (bronze)

Henry Moore, Six Stone Figures, 1973-74 (lithograph)

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, 1936 (Elmwood)

Henry Moore, Pit Boys at Pit head, 1942, (pencil, pen and ink,  wax coloured crayon and watercolour wash on paper)


Lynn Chadwick, Moon of Alabama, 1957 (bronze)
The title of the sculpture comes from a song by Berthold Brecht, but references Sputnik, the Soviet space satellite in its structure.

Bernard Meadows, Figure with Child, 1973, (bronze)

Bernard Meadows, Molly, Plate IV, 1966 (etching with drypoint)
This etching is from a series of 35 that Meadows made in response to Samuel Beckett's 1951 novel Molly. Rather than being illustrations in the traditional sense, Meadows described them as an attempt to capture the essence of Beckett's bleak and tragicomic attitude to human nature.

Eduardo Paolozzi, Mondrian Head, 1993 (bronze)

Paolozzi would often strike a dialogue between his own practice and art works by those he admired, one such example being the minimalist New York works of Piet Mondrian. This Mondrian Head is part of a related series informed specifically by Mondrian's 1940s Broadway Boogie-Woogie works in which the pulsing lights of the city streets are interpreted into abstract compositions. Here the concept is re-interpreted by Paolozzi and projected into an anonymous head. The outcome is at once an abstract notion, a figurative form and an acknowledgement of art history.

a side view


Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Wrestlers, 1913

The sculptor Gaudier-Brzeska experimented with etching and drypoint but this was his only linocut. Despite being a first attempt, it displays a tremendous fluidity of form due to his skills as a carver. He was one of the first artists to use lino in place of wood as a relief printing technique. The medium was subsequently taken up by his Vorticist contemporaries as it allows for strong lines and the creation of a dynamic sense of movement.

Gertrude Hermes, Fish, 1932
Hermes was a leading light in the wood engraving revival of the early 20th century. Her sculpture is perhaps less well known, but Hermes found a natural kinship between carving sculptures in wood and wood engraving. Her prints and sculpture informed one another, both formally and in terms of their subject-matter.

L.S. Lowry, The Tolbooth, Glasgow, 1947 (oil on board)


William Roberts, The Farm, 1922 (oil on canvas)

Maggi Hambling, Portrait of Charlie Abrew, 1974 (oil on canvas)
The subject in this painting, Charlie Abrew, was a lightweight boxer, but had to retire when he became blind. Hambling wrote of her experience of painting Abrew. 'He was very exciting to paint. I remember him being extremely patient, gentle, very sensitive with his hands and enjoying posing'.

John Wells, Island Counterpoint, 1956 (oil on canvas).


  1. I thought you'd like it

    1. It's a great place. I doubt we'll be able to go there again for a while though, as it's quite a drive for us.