The Hepworth Wakefield is celebrating its eighth birthday this week – and since opening its magnificent doors to the public in 2011 as one of the UK’s most important art spaces, it has been at the forefront of supporting artists, as was the facility’s predecessor – The Wakefield Art Gallery.
It’s been some time since the internationally important and instantly recognisable works of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth first enthralled gallery visitors in West Yorkshire, but with the current exhibitions programme and outreach work – together with the [almost complete] new Sculpture Garden and outside space, the coming months provide a multitude of reasons to visit Gallery Walk.
The work of Kenyan-born Magdalene Odundo is only being exhibited until 2nd June, but her ‘Journey of Things’ ceramics, which intertwine her own beautiful work with historical ceramic pieces from across the globe, really must be seen.
In June the ‘Yorkshire Sculpture International’ kicks off. The collaboration between The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, is the UK’s largest sculpture showcase. The work of international artists are set to be presented across the venues. The Hepworth is also staging a number of new commissions and debut UK presentations from both established and emerging artists. Across the summer, all of The Hepworth’s exhibition spaces will be dedicated to the Yorkshire Sculpture International programme.
Autumn 2019 will see the opening of the “We Two Boys” exhibition, showcasing early works from Alan Davie and David Hockney. In the ‘50’s, Davie staged his first solo exhibition at The Wakefield Art Gallery. A young Hockney – at the time a student at Bradford College of Art – visited the exhibition and cites the moment as having a pivotal influence on his career and future.
This landmark exhibition will bring together 45 paintings and works on paper, by Davie and Hockney. Many of the works haven’t been seen by the public for decades. Both of these post-war British artists have shared themes of passion, poetry and love – as their work has evolved.
Within the context of 1960’s counterculture, together with the popularisation of art through emerging forms of media from the period, this exhibition guarantees to showcase an exciting moment in British art.
Also, for the autumn (October ’19) and dovetailing perfectly with the ‘We Two Boys’ exhibition, visitors to The Hepworth will be able to study the work of Christina Quarles, the American artist whose abstract paintings often capture human bodies in various states.
Quarles is known for her deliberately ambiguous approach to her work: “In a bid to explore fluidities in identity – and create images that that disrupt the hetero-normative, male and predominantly white, history of painting.”
Closing soon is the socially invaluable ‘School Prints’ 2019 scheme. The schemes inspiration was a 1940’s programme established by Brenda and Derek Rawnsley, to engage children and expose them to contemporary art of the highest quality. Art that they otherwise would not be able to see.
In the ‘40’s, schools across the Wakefield district were loaned pieces, that allowed teachers and their pupils to build an appreciation for and an understanding of art. This year, The Hepworth has developed this initiative further, commissioning works by Sir Peter Blake, Fiona Banner and Linda Sterling, to allow a number of limited-edition prints to make their way to a new group of the district’s schools. The project’s importance has been further underlined by the establishment of a pilot scheme with The Turner Contemporary in Margate, who are also keenly aware of the role the arts have to play in creating an equitable society.
And if all of this isn’t enough to satisfy your creative yearnings, the summer will also see the opening of The Hepworth Art Garden. Designed by Landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, the garden will provide an oasis of colour and a new sense of landscape, at Wakefield’s post-industrial heart. This new addition will undoubtedly guarantee that The Hepworth Wakefield continues to attract visitors and artists from across the globe, but also further confirm Wakefield, Yorkshire – and indeed the North – as not only a ‘Powerhouse’, but also culturally – as rich as anywhere.
The Hepworth Wakefield holds a number of art fairs and markets throughout the year, in addition to a comprehensive programme of workshops for both children and adults. Full details can be found at: https://hepworthwakefield.org/