an artists' view

an artists' view

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Hepworth, Wakefield

On Wednesday 31st March, I went on the Wakefield Artwalk.
This takes place on the last Wednesday of every other month.

Usually, I open my studio, up at Westgate Studios, but this time I wanted to go down to the Hepworth, down on the river Calder. It was the first time this new-build gallery was open to the Artwalking public, although there was no art to be seen.
There were lots of artists from Westgate Studios down visiting whilst I was there, all looking at the spaces.

The Hepworth is not completed yet; lots of wires hanging out of walls - unfinished surfaces - details not attended to. It's still a work in progress.
But the heating was on, and it was a great relief to step out of the wintry wind, blowing off the Calder and the river frontage, and step into the warm gallery!

From the outside it's a squat, bulky, heavy, almost stolid concrete building. The concrete is tinted with a pale grey/plum/blue pigment - but this doesn't hide the fact that it's made from monolithic concrete.
I'm not a fan of concrete: and although I've been a supporter of the concept of the Hepworth, I've not been persuaded of the quality of the building's shape, design, or materials.

Once inside, the building takes on a Tardis-like quality, however.
What, outside, appears bulky and heavy, turns into an airey, high-ceilinged, subtley-lit, spacious sequence of galleries.
With windows. Big windows, rising from the floor, that feel as if you could step out through them, into the landscape beyond.
The star attraction (because there is no art up yet, to distract visitors) is the River Calder!

I can see the beauty of siting this gallery beside the Calder. During the Artwalk, all of us visitors were drawn to the windows - to watch the white, foam-flecked wier of the Calder, racing away to the sea.
The constant movement of the river contrasted with the stillness within the galleries. Future exhibitions are going to have to compete with that body of water. It was magical on Wednesday, watching the eddies of the river, and the fall of light, as it grew steadily darker.
It will be facsinating to visit the Hepworth (or Bab's Building, as my friend Shannon described it to me!) when it is fully open next year, and see the effects that the river has, upon the spaces, and the artwork.

I saw the river last night, as I've never experienced it; from viewpoints hitherto unseen. I came away excited by the possibilities - the river of possibilities.

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