Opened in 2011, The Hepworth Wakefield is the centrepiece of the regeneration of this area of Wakefield, with its colourful old barges and warehouses that hopefully will be redeveloped, perhaps into residential accommodation and working spaces for artists.
Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Hepworth Wakefield, Phillips London is holding an exhibition of Barbara Hepworth’s work focussing on the last decade of her life (1965-1975) with a selection of her characteristic angular and rounded sculpture set against related prints and drawings, with work loaned from the Hepworth Wakefield and from private collections.
Not only was her last decade hugely productive, but Hepworth was able to investigate printmaking and new materials such as bronze and slate and also return to the use of marble: “I don’t think anyone realises how much the last ten years have been a fulfilment of my youth.” (Barbara Hepworth)
The exhibition compliments her work on show in the Hepworth Wakefield as a result of the Hepworth Family Gift of 44 full size plaster and aluminium models made for works in bronze which Hepworth executed from the mid-1950s to the end of her career, drawings, lithographs and screen prints.
The Hepworth Wakefield, funded partly by the European Regional Development Fund and designed by David Chipperfield Architects as ten trapezoidal blocks, is austere on the outside; the galleries inside are warmer, with daylight coming in through slots in the roof and well-placed windows that provide views to the outside. The permanent galleries, primarily of British artists, have the models and workshop of Barbara Hepworth at their heart, with temporary galleries currently housing a major exhibition on the British artist Stanley Spencer until October.
The two exhibitions are complimentary, despite their geographic distance and this means of raising the profile of galleries elsewhere in Britain could be developed further in the future.
There is an interesting coincidence between the two locations of Phillips in London and the Hepworth in Wakefield. Adjacent to the Hepworth Wakefield is the Calder Gallery, the gallery’s new contemporary art space. Phillips too has a contrasting exhibition of contemporary art by its own staff – “Radar” running alongside Hepworth.