Major new Hepworth Wakefield gallery to open on 21 May with significant Barbara Hepworth gift forming centre of collection

  • 3 February 2011

The Hepworth Wakefield designed by David Chipperfield Architects, will open to the public on Saturday 21 May 2011, putting the spotlight on Yorkshire as a world centre for sculpture, together with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Henry Moore Institute and Leeds City Art Gallery.

Named after Barbara Hepworth, who was born in Wakefield in 1903 and lived there with her family until the age of 18, The Hepworth Wakefield will create for the first time a permanent public legacy for the artist in her home city.

The highlight of The Hepworth collection will be a group of over forty works donated by her family that provides a unique insight into Barbara Hepworth’s working methods and creativity. The Hepworth Family Gift, donated through a special scheme facilitated by the Art Fund, comprises a unique collection of prototypes and models in plaster, aluminium and wood from which casts were made in bronze or aluminium at the foundry. These were works the artist made towards the realisation of her bronzes. Shown alongside the plasters will be tools and materials from Hepworth’s studio. The installation, spread over two dedicated gallery spaces, will include the full-size prototype made by Hepworth of perhaps one of her best- known works, Winged Figure, commissioned for the John Lewis Partnership building in Oxford Street London and installed in 1963.

The Hepworth Wakefield has forged partnerships with the nation’s leading arts organisations including Tate, the Arts Council Collection and the British Council, to secure a programme of key loans that will put the focus on Wakefield and Yorkshire as a centre for modern and contemporary art. The opening displays will include works such as 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.

The City’s own collection, including over 6,000 works, built up over 80 years, includes important works by Barbara Hepworth and Yorkshire’s other internationally celebrated artist, Henry Moore, alongside pieces by other leading British artists including David Bomberg, Roger Fry, Harold Gilman, Duncan Grant, Patrick Heron, Ben Nicholson, Lucie Rie and William Scott. The opening displays will concentrate on Barbara Hepworth, placing her work in a local, national and international context.

Complementing the collection displays, The Hepworth Wakefield will present an ambitious programme of exhibitions, the first of which will be a new body of work by Eva Rothschild.
A series of artist commissions and artist talks will also be organised as part of a widely attractive programme of events and activities.

The Hepworth Wakefield, set in the historic waterfront area of Wakefield on a landmark site on the banks of the River Calder, has been designed by the internationally acclaimed David Chipperfield Architects. Spread over 5,000 square metres, the visitor can explore 10 light-filled galleries and learning studios; an auditorium; an archive; café and shop with an outdoor terrace and gardens. These can all be accessed via a new pedestrian bridge over the River Calder, leading to The Hepworth Wakefield.

The Gallery site has been developed at a cost of £35 million as part of the £100 million regeneration of Waterfront Wakefield. It includes the restoration of former mill and warehouse buildings, the development of new residential, office and leisure facilities, and outdoor landscaping with a new pedestrian bridge. The gallery is funded through an investment partnership between Wakefield Council and Arts Council England with major funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire Forward, Homes and Communities Agency, and the European Regional Development Fund.

The opening of the Hepworth Wakefield is a highlight of Art in Yorkshire, a region-wide project supported by Tate. This year-long celebration of the visual arts across 19 galleries in Yorkshire is led by York Museums Trust in association with Arts Council England, MLA and Welcome to Yorkshire.

Further images and information about the Hepworth Family Gift on Art Saved.