The Hepworth Wakefield

Wakefield's new gallery has its toes in the gushing waters of the river Calder.

David Chipperfield's £35 million building - ten grey trapezoidal boxes, each housing a room - has a stern beauty in perfect harmony with the surroundings. The gallery was nominated for the Art Fund Prize 2012.

Inside you'll find an extensive but focused permanent collection of 20th-century art bought by the forward-thinking curators of Wakefield Art Gallery, which was set up in 1923, and is now supplemented with some exciting loans. At the heart of this core collection sit a large number of pieces by Barbara Hepworth herself, who grew up in the city, the daughter of an engineer.


Hepworth's achievement is shown alongside that of her contemporaries at home and abroad. Selected sculptures by Henry Moore, who also grew up in Wakefield, include an elegant Reclining Figure in elm from 1936. One room explores Hepworth's art in relation to European Modernism, with works by Brancusi, Gaudier-Brzeska, Naum Gabo and Mondrian. Another looks at Hepworth's time in St Ives, where she worked from 1939 until her death in 1975, and where she made her monumental bronzes.

The Calder, a contemporary art space opposite the main gallery, opened in August 2014.

With Yorkshire Sculpture Park only seven miles away and the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds just up the road, Hepworth Wakefield is at the centre of a hub for modern sculpture. An energetic itinerary could take in all these places in one visit, spread over a day or two.

Permanent collections

The Hepworth Wakefield houses part of the city's existing collection of major British and European artists. Six gallery spaces are dedicated to Wakefield's collection of Modern British art. Two of the ten rooms illuminate Hepworth's working methods. In the first, visitors can pull out drawers to discover the drawings in which she mapped out her ideas, read what she had to say about her creative process, and see her tools and materials neatly laid out beside her bench and in vitrines.

The second is an airy atrium full of the prototypes in plaster, metal and wood – many of them looking as polished as the final versions – given by Hepworth's family through the Art Fund. It culminates in a giant model of the winged figure that adorns the façade of John Lewis in Oxford Street.

Art Funded works

The Hepworth Family Gift, which forms a central part of the gallery's permanent collection, consists of 44 working models (surviving prototypes in plaster and aluminium from which editions of bronze were cast) including Winged Figure, 1961-2; five drawings made in 1925 and a large group of Hepworth's lithographs and screenprints. Also in the Gift is a group of works by artist friends formerly owned by Hepworth, including paintings by John Wells and Breon O'Casey and ceramics by Janet Leach.

David Hockney's etching The Student: Homage to Picasso, which was Art Funded in 1973, is the Yorkshire artist's official acknowledgement of the influence on his work of Picasso. In the picture, Hockney approaches the Spaniard, whose head is represented as a sculpture mounted on a column, in the manner of a student carrying his portfolio for inspection.

Visitor information

The gallery has a café, which serves locally sourced food, and there is a gift shop on site.

Creative programmes for young people, families and adults take place in a dedicated learning studio. For more details visit the museum website.


Art we've helped buy at The Hepworth Wakefield

Venue details

The Hepworth Wakefield Gallery Walk, Wakefield West Yorkshire WF1 5AW 01924 247360 www.hepworthwakefield.org

Entry details

Free entry to all
Free exhibitions to all

Tue – Sun, 10am – 5pm
Closed Mon, expect bank and local school holidays
Third Thu of each month, 10am – 9pm

Member offers

10% off shop purchases

Share this article