Skip to content

Simon Wallis on Frieze Art Fair & Frieze Masters

Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters are a vital, energetic and inspirational focal point for the art world every year.

This year’s edition of the fairs is handsomely and effectively laid out and installed, to provide an improved experience of myriad contemporary and art historical works of art, most of which are of museum quality.

Both art fairs offer a wonderful opportunity to meet artists, gallerists, fellow museum professionals from around the world, collectors, patrons and friends. It’s an opportunity for those who have a passion for art to come together and share enthusiasms, and criticisms, and to marvel at the ongoing energy and significance of the international art world.

Connecting the two fairs is the Frieze Sculpture Park curated by our near neighbour and good friend Clare Lilley from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It offers an excellent opportunity to experience sculpture in the beautiful surroundings of Regent’s Park. This year Franz West’s lurid pink ‘Sitzwust’ looked extraordinary on the lush green grass with autumn leaves scattered around it. Thomas Schutte’s ‘Aluminiumfrau Nr18’ was also a highlight for me, an exquisitely memorable form in wonderful materials.

Franz West’s ‘Sitzwust’

Franz West, Sitzwust, 2000.

Francisco Alonso de los Rios, Ecce Homo, Circa 1630 – 1640, Polychrome wood.

The fairs allow us to make many new discoveries, often from the ways in which works of art are juxtaposed or develop an unexpected dialogue. It’s curatorially fascinating to experience what often amount to unintended experiments where you can, for instance, go between Reg Butler’s sexually explicit and perversely contorted nudes from the 1970s to an extraordinarily visceral and brutally tortured torso of Christ, from the 17th century. Seeing William Nicholson’s fresh brush work on a superb painting of flowers in a glass vase, opposite his son’s Ben Nicholson’s abstracted still life lodges pleasurably in my mind a I conjure up an imagined family rivalry.

I find it particularly interesting to see the maturing of commercial galleries who increasingly have spaces at both fairs to represent the gamut of the art they promote and sell. One of the strengths of our offer at The Hepworth Wakefield has been our equal efforts with how we display and work with our art historical collection in dialogue with a programme of contemporary art. The dynamic at the two fairs mirrors this growing tendency that helps contextualise and connect contemporary art to its precedents.

The Focus section of Frieze Art Fair is also vital so that younger up and coming galleries can show what they have to offer. It provides vital exposure for emerging artists and helps add to our curatorial research at the gallery. It’s gratifying to see an artist like Des Hughes at Ancient and Modern, who we’ll be working with next summer, in the same fair as Lynda Benglis, one of North America’s major artists whose first institutional UK solo show we’ve organised for spring in 2015. The fairs allow us to introduce our Trustees, Patrons and Members to the work of artists we’ll be exhibiting, alongside works we’d love to have in our collection.

At the end of my time at the fairs I breathe a sigh of relief that I run a beautifully designed free to enter public art gallery where a full aesthetic experience is possible for the widest of public. Our opportunity and challenge now is to build on and add to the ambitious collection that Wakefield started in the late 1920s and keep that spirit of enquiry alive and connected to the vitality of contemporary art. We are reliant upon philanthropy and gifts to achieve this and the art fairs help us develop the vital relationships that allow us to thrive as a public art gallery.

Simon Wallis, Director
The Hepworth Wakefield


Franz West and his Lemur Heads

Franz West used a range of head shapes for over a decade in his practice, inspired by Lemures from Ancient Roman mythology. A Lemur is a type of primate but in Ancient Rome the lemures were wandering, vengeful spirits and ghosts of the dead that came to torment the living. I find West’s Lemur sculptures really mysterious and striking and love West’s, Lemur Head that is outside in the THW gallery garden, greeting and watching visitors to the gallery. The sculpture is very quirky with its massive nostrils and open mouth!

I am also really attracted to Parrhesia, seven ‘Lemur head’ sculptures in Gallery 9. The title is Greek translating as ‘Outspokenness’ and refers to freedom of speech, the courage to say everything even when risk is involved. The grouping of these sculptures together suggests they are in conversation with each other, sharing their views. I like how expressively the works have been painted, very bold and lively with the paint being splashed and dribbled down the surface! The look of the sculptures at first glance can make the pieces look very amusing, but with their shape linked to Lemurs, there’s more to these sculptures than meets the eye…

Franz West: Where is my Eight? comes to a close on Sunday 14 September and admission is free.


The Portrait Sideshow: Back by Popular Demand

Roll up! Roll up! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, The Portrait Sideshow will be back at The Hepworth Wakefield on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August, capturing the spirit of Wakefield for a salon style exhibition.

Come along and have your portrait taken by National Portrait Gallery exhibited photographer, Richard Stanley, in the gallery spaces. He will be using lighting, posing and his own-brand of pouting techniques to create beautiful and unusual portraits.

We asked the man himself, Richard, to tell us more about what to expect…

‘Are you bored of that same old holiday snap or selfie that you use for your profile picture? Is the mantle piece in your parlour bereft of your enigmatic smile? Are you struggling to think of a present for your Great Aunty Hilda? Then what are you waiting for? Come along for your portrait-making and soul-taking! Come as you are, or dress to impress. Strike your signature pose… YOU ARE THE STAR OF THIS SHOW’

Tweet The Pop Up Sideshow @PopUpSideshow and take a look at their Facebook page to see what they have been up to around Wakefield. Make sure you don’t miss artist Yuka Oyama’s Schmuck Quickies workshop on Bank Holiday Monday 2 – 4.30pm.

The Pop up Sideshow last paid us a visit in July. Here’s just a few of the portraits taken..

_MG_6312ba testa sample

So What is Schmuck Quickies?

On  Monday 25 August we are excited to be welcoming Berlin-based Japanese artist Yuka Oyama to facilitate her Schmuck Quickies salon sessions that have taken place all over the world from Sydney to Tokyo.

So what exactly is a Schmuck Quickies? Well it literally translates from German into ‘Quick Jewellery’. Audience members will become participants as Oyama creates spontaneous pieces of jewellery for each of them in a hair salon like set up. To make these pieces, she will use local objects that have lost their original use along with basic equipment such as tape and scissors to capture the personality of the wearer. Addressing the fact that jewellery making is usually a solitary practise, yet is only really complete once the piece is worn on a human body is really important to Oyama. Jewellery made in the Schmuck Quickies sessions ‘demonstrate qualities in each person that mass-produced articles cannot’.

Here’s some snaps from previous Schmuck Quickies salon sessions…


Schmuck Quickies at The Hepworth Wakefield will take place from 2 – 4.30pm on Monday 25 August. There’s no need to book, just drop-in and have your very own piece of Schmuck Quickie to take home.

Interested in finding out more about Yuka Oyama? Take a look at this short interview which features the artist discussing the boundaries between people and their objects and the kind of relationships where distinct boundaries between the two no longer apply.

The Game of Sculpture

Children’s interactive book, The Game of Sculpture, is brought to life in this stop motion animation by our Retail Assistant Kate Green.

Buy the book from The Hepworth Wakefield shop or online priced at £7.95.
Film: Loren Turton and Kate Green
Music: Dan-O


Young Writers review Where is my Eight?

Theatre Royal Wakefield’s Young Writers group was set up for young people (aged up to 25 years old) who are passionate about writing. The group receive free tickets for shows at the Theatre Royal in exchange for a review. The group also takes the time to visit other venues and arts events in the region and we were pleased to welcome them to The Hepworth Wakefield to review Franz West: Where is my Eight?

Here’s excerpts from the young people’s reviews and you can view the reviews in full on the group’s website.

Thanks for paying us a visit Young Writers group! Visit Franz West: Where is my Eight? at The Hepworth Wakefield until Sunday 14 September. Admission is free.


‘As well as this very physical level of experiencing work, in many of the other rooms are other pieces that can be experienced on a mental or intellectual level. West’s works on paper and his installations don’t require you to speak to anyone (although you can if you wish) and you cannot touch or sit on them; they must be viewed as pieces of art in a gallery. This gives the exhibition a bit of variety but it also empowers you to circle back to the more interactive rooms and their more welcoming atmospheres. They also contain large pink sculptures that are so bright and unusual you can’t help but stare longingly at them for a while. It’s clear after visiting all of the rooms of the gallery that West is seeking a dialogue with the viewer, examining the relationship between artwork and recipient. A fascinating concept and a must see exhibition.’


‘With many of the pieces touching is encouraged, like with one of West’s most famous pieces Adaptives. Throughout the exhibition there is an underlying feeling of fun, and the participatory element certainly adds to that. There is something incredibly childlike about picking up an unidentifiable object and being able to use it in any way you choose. And yet, this is juxtaposed with the very adult notion of being shy; curtained cubicles were provided for participants so they could use the adaptives without feeling self-conscious. Suddenly the idea of child’s play becomes very adult, when faced with the embarrassment of being watched by a potential audience.’


‘When first arriving at the Hepworth and the private viewing of Franz West’s Where Is my Eight? you are immediately confronted by a giant florescent pink sausage. This luminous shape is unapologetically rude and phallic and that is what makes is so fantastically charming. This initial piece provides the perfect gateway to the playfulness of the rest of the exhibition. It also introduces the viewer to the contemplation of the use of materials. The Sitzwurst, on closer inspection, has a Frankenstein’s monster-type scarring all over its surface. This rough, candid application and use of materials can be seen throughout the exhibition.’


‘I went to the exhibition Franz West: Where is my Eight? at the Wakefield Hepworth Gallery on the 12th June 2014. The original idea of the exhibition was about the ‘Adaptives’ of the artwork. I believe the idea was that you could explore and adapt yourself to the art, interpreting it in any way you wanted. Unfortunately, the artist passed away a couple of years ago so the ‘adaptive’ part was usually no longer possible as they wanted to keep most of the art work untouched. This was an understandable thing; however, it kind of ruined the whole concept of how the artist wanted people to see his artwork. The art was interestingly portrayed in different ways which I assume was supposed to get people wanted to adapt it. He also did a lot of furniture designs which I liked and wouldn’t mind him designing my home at all.


Help us identify Yorkshire landscapes

The Hepworth Wakefield needs you! Help us identify the lost landscapes from the the 19th Century Gott Collection.

The collection exists in 10 gigantic bound volumes that were assembled by John Gott (1830 – 1906), Vicar of Leeds and later Bishop of Truro, and his father William (1791 – 1863), a wool merchant. It was presented to Wakefield Art Gallery in 1930 by Frank Green, a Yorkshire industrialist and philanthropist.

There are 1,200 images in the collection depicting over 200 Yorkshire villages, towns and cities through maps, sketches, plans and detailed architectural drawings. Some of the images are easily recognisable, but some of the image are more obscure and feature buildings and landmarks which don’t exist anymore. Details of the following images have been lost in the passage of time.



Can you help us identify the locations of these images? Please get in touch by emailing We would love to hear from you and together we might be able to make the collection even better than it already is.

Find out more about identifying the Gott Collection in this interview with Frances Guy, Head of Collection and Exhibitions in the Yorkshire Post. View the collection online or visit the exhibition on display in our Yorkshire in Pictures gallery.

Interested in finding out more? Don’t miss these free upcoming talks exploring the collection:

‘An Introduction to the Gott Collection’
Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 September, 11am & 2pm as part of Heritage Weekend

‘Curator Tour: The Gott Collection’
Wednesday 24 September, 2pm

Image information clockwise from top left:

John Preston Neale, Stewart, New Hall, Yorkshire, n.d., engraving
Artist unknown, untitled, n.d., ink and watercolour on paper
Artist unknown, untitled, n.d., engraving
Thomas Beckwith, untitled, n.d., pen, ink and watercolour on paper




The Big Draw in Action!

The Big Draw is the world’s largest drawing festival that takes place this year between 1 October and 2 November across the UK and in twenty other countries, with 280,000 people taking part in over 1000+ events. The Big Draw offers thousands of enjoyable, and mainly free, drawing activities which connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists, designers, illustrators – and each other. Events are for those who love to draw, as well as for those who think they can’t! To support the great programme of Big Draw activities across Wakefield, ourselves and the Theatre Royal Wakefield hosted a Big Draw Training Day as part of the Creative Learning Network. We invited teachers, artists, artists, community workers and arts professionals to take to the stage to see how we could make a drama out of drawing! The training day was run by education consultant Clare Price a long standing supporter of the Big Draw and the Campaign For Drawing. We spent the first half of the day on stage at the theatre and the afternoon at The Hepworth Wakefield. We started off with activities that used the theatre and it’s muses as inspiration.

Did you know?…

  • Theatre Royal Wakefield opened as The Opera House in 1894. It was designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham.
  • In the 20th Century it was used as a picture house and in the 1970’s the theatre was gutted, painted bright orange and used as a Bingo Hall!
  • In the 1980’s it was refurbished and reopened as a theatre…
  • On the ceiling there are eight painted panels with pictures of the Muses on. Eight of nine muses of Greek mythology were in original ceiling panels… these were painted over.  During the restoration in the 80s, Kate Lyons (artist) repainted her impression of them. In each panel there is a magpie and tells this story - King Pierus boasted that his daughters rivalled the Muses in beauty and talent, they (all nine of his daughters) were turned into magpies after losing a contest with the muses. Kate included a magpie on each panel to represent King Pierus’s daughters.
  • The other muse was originally painted on dress circle front but Bacchus has replaced that. Bacchus is the Greek God of Sex, Wine and Revelry.

With this rich story of the Theatre Royal to draw from we created mythic exquisite corpses as a warm up, and a bit of a giggle. We then recreated our own Greek mythological world in response to the Big Draw theme “its our world” which soon became a theatre set. We used clear Perspex clipboards and acetate to draw our muses who were beautifully posed with white drapes from the scrap store in Leeds. We all loved that the clear materials made it easer to draw your colleague and that without them we all would have come unstuck. Even if you can’t draw you can trace the outline of your friend this way.



Once our muses were on acetate we could position them on an over head projector (save the OHP!) so that we could trace them again in large scale onto a white papered wall at the back of the stage. We layered and layered the drawing adding more and more details and colour to our scene. Until eventually we had made the best set the theatre has ever seen (we think anyway!)


Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 14.46.08

After all that excitement we broke for lunch and the fun didn’t stop there. We walked down to The Hepworth Wakefield leaving our own icing sugar TAGs. These were simply stencils in card with icing sugar sieved over to leave an outline on the road, pavement, walls, on the Hepworth bridge…. and all biodegradable and washed away by the wind and rain. Quick, easy and great fun, we felt like Banksy!

After a chance to build our energy back after lunch we had time to see the Franz West exhibition Where is my Eight? and in particular in West’s Adaptives, sculptural works that can be worn, and that change the way we stand, walk and generally perform in the galleries. A few warm up activities later and everyone was really getting into the main activity of the afternoon, to make a drawing adaptive!

West Warm Up

Each team was given a body part to adapt into a drawing device. This developed into a very strange studio space in which Frankenstein like drawing creatures started to emerge! As much as this was great fun the serious note behind it was to show that mark making can be done in different ways and that you don’t need to be able to ‘draw’ accurately to have fun and learn from drawing. The activity also brought participants together who didn’t know each other to work in teams, to communicate their ideas and to work together to make an outcome that would make a mark!



As all good sessions must come to a close we supported the groups to think of ways in which they would use Big Draw in their setting. Here is what they came up with……What-and-Why

With huge thanks to everyone who took part, to Clare for running a great session, to Rhiannon at the theatre and the theatre staff for tolerating our noise and laughter. Not to forget Becky Harlow, Schools Coordinator here at The Hepworth Wakefield for the hard work she puts into the events and getting the message out to let people know that it was happening.

The Art Party is coming!

This August, The Hepworth Wakefield will be part of the world premier of Tim Newton and Bob and Robert Smith’s film Art Party. Part documentary, road movie and political fantasy, it captures the spirit of the Scarborough Art Party Conference held in November 2013; championing the importance of art and its place in education and modern politics. The screening will be followed by a party, during which you get to express your opinions on art and education.


We are pleased to be working with students from Dixons City Academy to deliver the party at The Hepworth Wakefield on 21 August. We caught up with Art Teacher, Anne-Louise Quinton, to see what they’ve been up to…

‘In early June I organised a school Art Party. It was designed to blow people’s socks off with creativity and fun and champion the subject on the back of the Art Party Conference in Scarborough. We wanted students to interact and engage with practically helping produce art and being part of it too. So I made sure that the A Level group were aware of the politics and they have been fantastic (smiles all round!)

We set about making cut outs and faces for the school to ‘play’ with. They made protest placards too. As well as a sort of Big Draw doodle for everyone to join in with, I did quick portraits of students to take home. With staff involved from all departments, being creative and creating edible masterpieces too, it was a great week.’

The photos on the blog are from the students, so a big thank you to them for sending them over and making us smile. It’s good to know that (the likeness of!) Gilbert and George, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and more, are all planning to come along!

The Art Party at The Hepworth Wakefield takes place on Thursday 21 August 5 – 9pm as part of our After Hours event. Admission is free and you can drop in at any time, though the screening will be first. Find out more by calling 01924 247360 or visiting our website.

Franz West and the ‘squiggle’

To coincide with exhibition, Franz West: Where is my Eight? I’ve been carrying out research on the artist and his practise. This blog explores West’s fascination with ‘the squiggle’. Take a look on The Hepworth Wakefield blog for my post about the influence of Rome on his work, and keep your eye out for future posts!

Over time, West’s art practice became larger and larger and in the late 1990s, (around 1996-97), West began making outdoor sculptures using aluminium in bold and vibrant, monochrome colours with irregular patchwork surfaces. These works were often inspired by the long, curvy forms of Viennese sausages, as well as the shapes of his Adaptives sculptures.


One of my favourite aspects of West’s practice was his interest in language which he translated into visual works of art. In particular, the artist read theories by Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) and made numerous artworks quoting a ‘squiggle’ used in the theorist’s lectures on aesthetics. Wittgenstein referred to the doodle as a “meaningless curve”, senseless-loops as “casual gestures”, supposedly without any meaning. West transformed Wittgenstein’s squiggle with its uncontrolled, free style into sculptures. West was quoted saying:

‘I got stuck with them, perhaps for simplicity’s sake, when looking at motifs…and then I made even more precise replicas of these meaningless curves.’

I really LOVE these pieces by West as I feel they really showcase the artist’s tounge in cheek and eccentric personality. The works have so much energy! I like how West makes the 2D quote into groovy, 3D squiggles and his use of ‘bubblegum-pop’, bright colours makes the works very eye-catching!



In Franz West: Where Is My Eight? at The Hepworth Wakefield, Ecke, shows small figures negotiating with a series of miniature squiggle sculptures by the artist. I think this piece is fantastic in the exhibition as it shows a range of West’s ideas for his squiggle sculptures and includes mini cut outs of people engaging with them, you get a great insight into West’s thought process and how important it was to him to use art as a way to really connect with people!


Franz West: Where is my Eight? is open until Sunday 14 September. Admission is free.

Join in the conversation #WhereIsMy8?

Image credits top to bottom:

Sausages: JetSetTimes
Franz West, The Ego and the ID, installed at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park in 2009.
Franz West, Ecke (Corner), 2009. Collection Maja Hoffman / LUMA Foundation. © Gabriel Szabo / Guzelian, Franz West Privatstiftung and the legal successors of Franz West. Installation view, ‘Franz West: Where is my Eight?’ at The Hepworth Wakefield 2014. Image courtesy The Hepworth Wakefield.