The Hepworth Gallery

On a good rainy day off Jane and I went to The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield (this city used to be the administrative centre of the dear departed West Riding of Yorkshire).

It is housed in a new building:

It looks very austere from without, but it is astounding inside (more later).

Outside the artistic taste buds are whetted:

This is, with 3 other surviving chapels, unique in the country.  A bridge chapel.  In fact sometimes called The Chapel on the Bridge. It was built in the 14th century in the middle of the River Calder, sharing its foundations and source quarry with the bridge.  And look at that West front – black, just as all town and city buildings once were in the West Riding, polluted with the coal smoak from the furnaces of the Industrial Revolution.  It is so small and perfect, and unexpected on our visit to The Hepworth, that I can’t resist another photo:

Man, that was proper building, and financed by the townsmen of Wakefield (don’t believe the rumours about the Duke of York – and his brother – the Earl of Rutland). The first chaplains were Bill Kay and Bill Bull presented by the founders in 1356.  Read more about it all here.

On the other side of The Hepworth are other survivors of the industrial past, canal stuff, get this warehouse:

Well a lot of “corn, cake and barley” must have shipped through this building in the past. However, these are mere distractions from the meat of the gallery.

This is a pretend building.  Printed on canvas, showing an old British Waterways warehouse how it might have been before dereliction and uncomfortably close to this:

A bronze by Barbara.  Immensely powerful with fabulous textures:

And patina:

It seems to me that outside is where many of Barbara’s work live.  But the exhibition is inside.  Quick look outside from inside:

Ah! Yorkshire rain, who can beat it (Cumbria – Ed.)

And just to complete those outside pics, here’s a view down the locker/toilet corridor:

Dig that brickwork. The interior is a study in muted color.  My camera is not good enough to capture it, you would need to go and see it yourself, but it stands back from the stuff inside like this:

This is the biggest piece indoors.  It is a prototype and the original lives on the outside of the John Lewis Partnership building off Oxford Street, London.

She was quite some craftsman, barbara, and the Gallery exhibits some of her tools and workbench:

Some dodgy stuff here, but I envy the draw knife, loads of meat left on that yet!

It is a busy gallery (great!) and there were loads of students busy drawing these fabulous shapes:

A bit pointless trying to capture these works digitally, and I wasn’t allowed to do so with the Richard Long slate and stick installations, but they did match up pretty well to Bab’s stuff.

We managed to spend around 4 hours in there, with  a beer and sandwich break:

All in all a grand day out within about an hour’s train journey of home, only spoilt by missing the half-painted shed alongside the railway line by about one garden:


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