The Hepworth Wakefield, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, creates a focus on Wakefield and Yorkshire as a world centre for sculpture, together with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery. With 5,000 square metres of gallery space it contains 10 galleries and learning studios; auditorium; archive; café, shop and outdoor terrace and gardens. It is the largest purpose-built art gallery to open in Britain since the Hayward on London’s Southbank in 1968. Named after Barbara Hepworth, it provides a permanent public legacy for the artist in her home city. The gallery site on the historic waterfront has been developed at a cost of £35 million as part of the £100 million regeneration of Waterfront Wakefield. Accessed via a new pedestrian bridge over the River Calder it includes the restoration of former mill and warehouse buildings, the development of new residential, office and leisure facilities, and outdoor landscaping.
The opening displays concentrate on Barbara Hepworth, placing her work in a local, national and international context. The highlight of the permanent collection is a group of over forty works given by her family. The Hepworth Family Gift, comprises a collection of prototypes and models in plaster, aluminium and wood, from which casts were made in bronze or aluminium at the foundry. Shown alongside the plasters will be tools and materials from Hepworth’s studio. The installation, spread over two dedicated gallery spaces, includes the full-size prototype made by Hepworth for Winged Figure, commissioned for the John Lewis Partnership building in Oxford Street London and installed in 1963.
The gallery opened on Saturday 21 May 2011 with an exhibition including Danaïde by Constantin Brancusi c. 1918 and Composition C (No.III) with Red, Yellow and Blue by Piet Mondrian, 1935 from the Tate; The Snowstorm: Spiral Motif in Black and White by Victor Pasmore, 1950-51 from the Arts Council Collection; 1935 (white relief) by Ben Nicholson from the British Council Collection and J.M.W. Turner’s Wakefield Bridge (c.1798) from the British Museum. A programme of temporary exhibitions will complement the collection. The city’s own collection of over 6,000 works includes Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and predominantly 20th Century British artists including David Bomberg, Harold Gilman, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Ben Nicholson, William Scott, Patrick Heron and Lucie Rie. The first exhibition Hot Touch by, Eva Rothschild, features over sixteen new works created for the gallery spaces (until 9 October 2011).
The opening of The Hepworth Wakefield is a highlight of Art in Yorkshire, a year-long, region-wide celebration of the visual arts across 19 galleries in Yorkshire, led by York Museums Trust in association with Arts Council England, MLA and Welcome to Yorkshire and supported by Tate.
The gallery is supported by Wakefield Council and The Hepworth Estate, Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund with additional funding from European Regional Development Fund, Homes and Communities Agency and Yorkshire Forward.
The Hepworth, Wakefield, Gallery Walk, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW . Admission Free. Open 10am – 6pm (Closed Mondays except for Bank Holidays and school holidays)
Images: Exterior – The Hepworth Wakefield ; Interior – Eva Rothschild Mona Lisa