Hepworth Gallery

  • Visit |
  • Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 14:00 until 14:00

The building by the leading contemporary architect David Chipperfield, sits on the banks of the River Clader, immediately adjacent to the bridge which carries the Chantry Chapel painted by, among others, J.M.W. Turner. Its situation is of paramount importance not only as a piece of modern architecture, but as a beacon for the regeneration of the city of Wakefield. It has cost £35 million pounds to build and will cost some £2.4 million a year to run. Wakefield is fortunate indeed to have been selected for this gallery which will be of world importance for all students of Barbara Hepworth and indeed, Henry Moore.

Externally the building is unprepossessing, particularly under leaden skies, resembling an asymmetrical aarangement of grey concrete boxes punctuated by random windows. Internally, however, it promises to be an oustanding space for the display of sculpture and for temporary exhibitions. The galleries are situated on the upper floor of the two-storey building. Each gallery, not-quite-rectangular in shape, is top lit by a strip of natural light, suggesting the lifting of the roof by some giant hand, and by windows overlooking the river and the town. The attention to small architectural details is a delight, the way the doors fold into the walls and the Soanian incised lineds in the plasterwork, all make a visit an enormous pleasure, albeit to the echoing and empty chambers.

What a fortunate chance that this new and exciting project is in such close proximity to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which since its creation has come to mean so much to sculpture-lovers from all over the world. The Art Fund has been associated closely with the park since its inception, notably James Turrell's "Deer Shelter" in 2006, and looks forward to forming a similar fruitful bond with the Hepworth Gallery.