Dezeen Magazine

The Hepworth Wakefield by David Chipperfield Architects

The Hepworth Wakefield gallery designed by David Chipperfield Architects opens to the public this Saturday.

The Hepworth Wakefield by David Chipperfield

With 10 naturally-lit exhibition rooms, the gallery in Yorkshire is the largest purpose-built space for art in the UK and will display over 40 works by sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), who lived locally.

The Hepworth Wakefield by David Chipperfield

The building is composed of a grouping of trapezoidal blocks and also contains learning studios, an auditorium, an archive, and a café and shop.

The Hepworth Wakefield by David Chipperfield

The gallery is accessed via a new pedestrian bridge across the River Calder, next to which the building is situated.

The Hepworth Wakefield by David Chipperfield

Photography is by Iwan Bann.

The Hepworth Wakefield by David Chipperfield

See all of our stories about David Chipperfield on Dezeen »

Below is the full press release:

The Hepworth Wakefield confirms Yorkshire as a centre for sculpture

The Hepworth Wakefield, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, opens 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 Art Gallery.

Named after Barbara Hepworth, who was born in Wakefield in 1903 and lived there with her family until the age of 18, with 5,000 square metres of gallery space, The Hepworth Wakefield is the largest purpose-built art gallery to open in Britain since the Hayward on London’s Southbank in 1968, and provides a permanent public legacy for the artist in her home city.

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 by founding partners Wakefield Council and The Hepworth Estate; major funders Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund with additional funding from European Regional Development Fund, Homes and Communities Agency and Yorkshire Forward.

The highlight of The Hepworth Wakefield’s permanent collection is a group of over forty works given 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. The majority are original plasters on which Hepworth worked with her own hands. Shown alongside the plasters will be tools and materials from Hepworth’s studio. The installation, spread over two dedicated gallery spaces, includes the full-size prototype made by Hepworth of perhaps one of her best- known sculptures, 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 put the focus on Wakefield and Yorkshire as a centre for modern and contemporary art. The opening displays 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, Harold Gilman, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Ben Nicholson, William Scott, Patrick Heron and Lucie Rie. The opening displays 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 temporary exhibitions. The inaugural exhibition Hot Touch will present the work of internationally acclaimed sculptor, Eva Rothschild, running from 21 May – 9 October 2011 and will feature over 16 new works created by the artist specifically for the gallery spaces. It will be Rothschild’s first major solo show in a UK public gallery for four years.

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 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.

Councillor Peter Box, Leader, Wakefield Council:
“I passionately believe that the opening of the Hepworth Wakefield will lead to real benefits to our community, encouraging more investment in the future of our city and placing Wakefield on the world stage as a major centre for visitors from all over the country and abroad.”

Simon Wallis, Director, The Hepworth Wakefield, said:
“This is a moment to savour for so many people who have worked together over the last decade to see the dream of the Hepworth Wakefield realised. We are proud to present the work of Barbara Hepworth, a daughter of this city, in this superbly designed gallery and to develop an international centre for the visual arts, which will attract artists and visitors from all over the world.”

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:
“The Arts Council is proud to be a major supporter of The Hepworth Wakefield, investing £5.5 million of National Lottery funds to help create this world-class gallery. We are delighted that they will also be funded as part of our national portfolio from 2012 -15.

The opening is one of the cultural highlights of 2011 and will cement the increasing national and international profile of Yorkshire as a centre for the presentation and understanding of sculpture. We hope that the gallery, like the ground-breaking work of Barbara Hepworth, will inspire visitors from far and wide and become a creative centre for the people and communities of Wakefield and beyond”.

Dr Sophie Bowness, granddaughter of Barbara Hepworth, said:
"On behalf of our family, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to making this remarkable gallery a reality. Our gift is a unique group of Barbara Hepworth's surviving prototypes, the majority in plaster, from which editions of bronzes were cast, and we hope it will greatly enhance understanding of her working methods. We have found the ideal home for the plasters in Wakefield, the city in which Barbara was born and grew up. We would particularly like to thank the Art Fund, through whom we have made this gift."

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund said: "Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures have left a legacy of artistic genius which continues to inspire us well into the 21st century. The opening of this much-anticipated gallery, funded with a £5m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, will be a fitting celebration of Hepworth’s life and work as well as putting her home town of Wakefield on the cultural tourist map.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate said:
“The Hepworth Wakefield is one of the most exciting and beautiful galleries in the United Kingdom. Its opening in May 2011 will bring tens of thousands of people to Wakefield, similarly to when Tate Modern opened, which brought hundreds of thousands of people to London. I think The Hepworth is a great building and it will offer a wonderful day out for people to come and experience Wakefield in a new way.”

Antony Gormley, artist said:
“The Hepworth Wakefield will become a place of pilgrimage for all lovers of sculpture and now with the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Bretton, Yorkshire will be a place of inspiration for all.”