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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.

Artwork of the Month: Nigel Henderson, Head of a Man c.1956 – 61

A significant painting by seminal British pop artist Nigel Henderson, has just joined works by Alberto Giacometti, Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi and Jackson Pollock in Parallel of Life and Art, an exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield running till June 2015. Arguably one of the most important figures in post-war British art, Henderson was once described by his contemporary Richard Hamilton as ‘a conduit of ideas and information’, however, unlike his peers Hamilton and  Paolozzi, he did not become a household name.

Born in London in 1917, Henderson studied biology at Chelsea Polytechnic in London (1935-36). After serving as a pilot for coastal command in World War II, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1945-49). There he befriended Paolozzi, with whom he visited Paris, meeting Constantin Brancusi, Fernand Léger, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque and Hans Arp.

After leaving the Slade, Henderson began to experiment with photography, and between 1949 and 1952 he took numerous documentary photographs of Bethnal Green in east London, where he was then living. During this period he began to experiment with unusual effects by altering negatives or by placing objects directly on light-sensitive paper to create photograms.

The artists from the This is Tomorrow exhibition catalogue, L-R-  Paolozzi, Peter Smithson, Alison Smithson and Henderson

Between 1952 and 1955, Henderson was part of the highly significant collection of writers, thinkers and creative practitioners known at The Independent Group. Leading artists such as  Hamilton,  Paolozzi and William Turnbull; architects Alison and Peter Smithson and critics Lawrence Alloway and Reyner Banham all contributed to the interdisciplinary events, talks and exhibitions, often held at the new Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Their shared aim was to introduce mass culture into debates about high culture. They drew from a range of sources including the pages of science-fiction magazines, Jackson Pollock’s paintings, Hollywood film, machine designs, the streets of London’s East End and the influence of this radical new approach to looking at and working with visual culture can still be felt in the work of contemporary artists today.

Patio and Pavillion, designed by  Henderson, the Smithsons and Hamilton. Exhibited at This Is Tomorrow, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1956

One of the Independent Group’s most radical projects was the pioneering Pop art exhibition This Is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1956. It was here that Henderson showed the large and disturbing altered photograph Head of a Man (1956), Tate collection. The focus of the exhibition was an investigation of the theoretical possibilities of integrating art and architecture. There were twelve groups of people involved, each group consisting of an architect, a painter and a sculptor. These groups were tasked with working collaboratively to create an ‘environment’. Most of the artists’ scenes of the future were futuristic and celebratory. But Patio and Pavilion, designed by Henderson, Paolozzi and the Smithsons, had an air of impending doom. Its collage of detritus looked like an ‘archaeological dig of an ancient, prewar world destroyed in a nuclear holocaust’, said the critic Reynar Banham. Dominating the scene was Henderson’s sinister Head of a Man (1956), a monumental and extraordinary photo-collage, now in the Tate collection. It appeared like a Frankenstein’s monster made of different photographic parts, some vegetable, some mineral. It was both human and something altogether not human.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Vertumnus, c 1590-1. Skokloster Castle, Sweden.

The 16th century artist Guiseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings of heads composed of vegetables and fruits was definitely an inspiration for Henderson (see above). As well as drawing on Renaissance art, Henderson was looking to scientific ideas, in particular metamorphosis, the biological process by which an animal physically develops through cell growth and differentiation. The manner in which he made these photo-collages almost mimic this metamorphosing process. First Henderson would experiment in the darkroom by taking photos of debris from bomb sites, vegetables, and other found objects. He would then use these to make a collage, after which he would chose sections to increase in size using his photo-enlarger. Henderson liked to compare his photo-enlarger to a microscope used to examine an organism’s cell structure. Oil paint was also used to link up lines between different elements in the collage. Sometimes Henderson would drip paint on to a glass sheet and, when dry, scratch and doodle over it with a compass. These patterns would then be photographed and the photos incorporated in the collages. This technique was in part indebted to the methods of his friend Len Lye, who created animated abstract films by scratching directly onto celluloid.

Parallel of Life and Art, installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 1952

The Head of a Man currently at The Hepworth Wakefield is a later evolution of the earlier Head of a Man shown at This is Tomorrow. Both are hatched from the same ‘egg’ if you will, an earlier negative of a collage made by Henderson. However, the later Head has been worked up more in oils than in collage. When describing Head of a Man, Henderson wrote, ‘The face was heavily textured to underline the association with hide or bark and the bust/shoulders were adumbrated with bits of photo-material like stone or leaf to further this association with nature.’

Too often Henderson’s early Heads are associated with decay and atrophy, and believed to be a potent expression of post-war angst and disillusionment. This may in part be true; however he also intended these works to be testament to the great regenerative and restorative power of nature.

For the next 30 years, Henderson would return again and again to the theme of the human head, continuously evolving and mutating the human form using the building blocks of his earlier collages and photographs. It would remain an artistic obsession until the end of his life. One of his last works, (see below: Head Collage, c.1980) shows the artist literally reworking his own face and becoming a collage. The logical next step in the evolution, fusing nature, man and material.

Nigel Henderson, Self-Portrait, c. 1980-82

Image credits (top to bottom):
Nigel Henderson, Head of Man, 1956-1961. Oil and photographic processes on card. Arts Council Collection. Acquired 1977. © Estate of Nigel Henderson & the Mayor Gallery, London
The artists from the This is Tomorrow exhibition catalogue. (L-R)  Paolozzi, Peter Smithson, Alison Smithson and Henderson
Patio and Pavillion, designed by  Henderson, the Smithsons and Hamilton. Exhibited at This Is Tomorrow, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1956
Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Vertumnus, c 1590-1. Skokloster Castle, Sweden
Parallel of Life and Art, installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 1952
Nigel Henderson, Self-Portrait, c. 1980-82

5 & 6 July: A weekend of wheelie good fun!

To celebrate the world’s greatest cycle race, we are hosting a weekend of wheelie good cycletastic fun and you’re all invited! Get on your bike and come down Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 July to take part in our spoketacular activities.

Putting an end to the terrible cycling puns, Cycling Weekend at The Hepworth Wakefield will be two days of free, family-friendly activities as part of Yorkshire Festival 2014. There will  be something for everyone, from a pedal-powered cinema and Scalextrix tracks to mini farthings and courses to test your cycling skills. There will also be have a Bike Doctor on-site to check over your bike with a free health and safety check. Join in with our giant art attack outside on the grass where we will be making a huge cyclist out of parachutes, swimming noodles, skipping ropes and more. Make sure you visit our Cycling Weekend page online for our full list of events.

Hepworth favourite, Sheffield artist James Green, has expanded his current range of prints to commemorate Yorkshire’s Grand Départ with a special A3 poster print, The Cyclist £12 and greetings card, £2.50, both available from our shop. James specialised in hand-pressed linocut prints but why cycles? He says  ’I find the shape of bicycles rather fascinating. They haven’t really changed much in the last 100 years, a bit like linocut printing!’.

Planning to arrive by pedal power? The Hepworth Wakefield is situated between the A61 and the River Calder and is part of the new Wonders of Wakefield Cycle Trail, launched by Wakefield District Cycle Forum. The new 20-mile cycle trail visits key landmarks and attractions with a mix of on and off-road cycling.  Starting at Sandal & Agbrigg railway station, the trail heads south to Walton Country Park, up through New Crofton, on to Nostell Priory and Parkland, then Anglers Country Park and Newmillerdam before reaching Pugneys Water Park and nearby Sandal Castle.  Make a final stop off at The Hepworth Wakefield and Chantry Chapel along Wakefield’s Waterfront, before returning to Sandal & Agbrigg railway station.

Cyclists can secure their trusty two wheels in the bicycle racks near the main entrance and in the visitor car park on Thornes Lane. And if you’re unlucky to get a puncture, just visit the Information Desk at the gallery to borrow a free puncture repair kit.

Find out more about Cycling Weekend at The Hepworth Wakefield online: or call us on 01924 247360. Keep pedalling!


Franz West: Be part of the art!

Our current exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, Franz West: Where is my Eight? has filled our gallery spaces with large-scale installation pieces. Did you know that Franz West’s art is fundamentally participatory and seeks to engage the viewer within it either by wearing the artworks or by sitting on them and having discussions? On your visit you might see a fellow visitor get involved with one of his Adaptives, or maybe you’d like to try yourself?

Franz West’s work offers various possibilities for experiencing the world with ever-changing results that depend on the visitor, context and atmosphere. The very first installation that greats visitors to the gallery spaces is Ordinary Language in Gallery 1, a combination of twelve fabric sofas and television sets. Franz West invites the viewer to use the gallery space as a place for conversation, social interaction, consideration and association.

In the spirit of Franz West and his appreciation for participation, we are looking for community groups to participate in the exhibition by hosting their usual events on the colourful sofas of Ordinary Language. If you knit, play, chat, act, debate, gossip, tell stories, read, share, converse, cuddle, entertain, educate, laugh, scribble why not do it on one of West’s sofas – a one off chance to become part of a work of art!


If you help to organise or take part in a local social group and want to get involved please get in touch for further details via or by calling 01924 247360 with your proposed idea for activity.

Watch this space for photographs documenting groups getting involved in Ordinary Language throughout the summer. Franz West: Where is my Eight? is open until Sunday 14 September and admission is free.

Photographer Credits:
Top & left: Hannah Webster
Right: Gabriel Szabo / Guzelian

Franz West and the Influence of Rome

In anticipation for the opening of exhibition Franz West: Where is my Eight? I have been carrying out research on the artist and his practise. Throughout the exhibition I am going to share what I have learnt and what I find most interesting about Franz West. Keep your eye on The Hepworth Wakefield blog to find out more including West’s fascination with ‘the squiggle’ and his interactive artworks, the Adaptives.

What I really love about West’s practice is where his fascination with art began; during trips to Rome, Italy during his youth. West was captivated in how cultural attractions like public monuments and ornamental structures such as; the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain in the city are actually more social settings/experiences. West referred to these as somewhere that allowed people to be “sitting in the art consuming life”.


He was interested in the bourgeois conventions of how people should engage with art, displayed in ‘elite’ cultural settings and how this can act as a social barrier for the viewer. This greatly motivated West to create artworks that actively incorporated public participation and remove obstacles e.g. ‘no touching of artworks’, which can prevent the spectator’s experience.

I really admire West’s daring, rebellious and playful nature and how he wanted to change the dynamics of museum/gallery spaces and make ‘YOU!’ (the visitor) more involved and, in my opinion, make experiencing art funky, cool and social! By rejecting the rule of not touching the art, West breaks traditional museum/gallery boundaries. The visitor is not supposed to be a silent observer anymore; they become an active component, the finishing! Your reactions with the art become the centerpiece of the work.

Visitors can explore this concept by engaging with West’s Adaptives in Gallery 6. What’s more, visitors can join in the play online too using social media. Join in the conversation #WhereIsMy8

Franz West: Where is my Eight? is open Friday 13 June – Sunday 14 September at The Hepworth Wakefield. Admission is free.

Image Credits:
Spanish Steps by
Trevi Fountain by Diliff


Franz West at mumok: Wo ist mein achter?

Franz West: Where is my Eight? opens at The Hepworth Wakefield on 13 June. The exhibition was initiated and co-developed with mumok (Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna) and Franz West with great enthusiasm before his death in July 2012. This short video by theartVIEW provides an insight into the exhibition’s realisation in Vienna. In true spirit of Franz West and his signature Adaptives (Passstücke) works, the exhibition has been adapted for its presentation here at The Hepworth Wakefield. Parallels between the work of Barbara Hepworth and Franz West will be explored in an unique intervention in the Hepworth Family Gift gallery. Find out more about Where is my Eight? online. The exhibition runs from Friday 13 June until Sunday 14 September. Admission is free.

diCorcia: Photography Masterclass

Inspired by the exhibition Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Photographs 1975 – 2012 we held a weekend-long Photography Masterclass at The Hepworth Wakefield with professional photography Hannah Webster. The workshop sold out in weeks so we couldn’t wait to see what the keen participants had produced! We caught up with Hannah to find out more about the weekend…


“The work of Phillip-Lorca diCorcia was the central focus of the weekend masterclass, aiming to replicate and draw inspiration from his works. We focused on his techniques of lighting, composing and directing in his shoots, as well as looking at the themes and messages conveyed in his work.

Technically this was a very challenging task, I think one thing everyone (including myself) went away from the workshop feeling, was just how immensely talented and technically proficient diCorcia is, and how much time and effort went in to creating the intricate lighting setups he uses in his work.

One of the most interesting things we did was trying to replicate the lighting in his Heads series of work. By using studio lighting indoors we achieved some great results. We all commented on how impressive it was knowing that he did the same thing but in busy Times Square, with the added challenges that presents, not least being the presence of ambient light and day light which we did not have to contend with.

I really enjoyed teaching the workshop and I think the work produced is fantastic!”


The images on this blog were all taken at the workshop. You can see a fuller selection on the participants’ own Flickr group. To keep up to date with upcoming events and exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield including creative workshops for adults please join our mailing list.

Photographers top to bottom, left to right:

Simon Johnson
Lucy Clay
John Whitworth
David Hanley



Shop Picks: The Calder

To celebrate the launch of Haggard Caravan the third show in our new exhibition space, The Calder, we have some delightful Calder-inspired products available to buy in our gallery shop.

Fly off and explore the world in Architecture According to Pigeons and learn the basic architectural principles of the most iconic buildings and monuments across the globe, from the Taj Mahal to the Golden Gate Bridge!

Brighten your walls with our new digital poster of the linocut print Pigeons from Sheffield-based artist James Green. The artist took inspiration from both the curious nature of pigeons collectively, and their incredibly individual qualities when looked at closely.

Learn about some of the most challenging and unconventional works of modern and contemporary art in Susie Hodge’s fully illustrated Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That, as she deconstructs 100 artworks that have attracted both public and critical dispute.

Discover what it was like to grow up in Wakefield in the 1950s, in Kevin Barraclough’s All in Good Time which offers a combined insight of both personal recollections and historic research through detailed memoires and over 100 photographs.

Treat yourself to a delicately hand-crafted bowl from ceramicist Jill Ford. Particularly attracted to the elegant qualities of porcelain Ford’s work sensitively mirrors changing seasons and landscapes. She is inspired by the reeds, willows and reflection of riverscapes.

Our shop is full of beautiful and unique design-led products. Make sure you pay it a visit next time your in the gallery or take a look at our online shop.



By artist Paul Hurley and writer Caleb Parkin

We have been working in collaboration for a few years, exploring different town and city spaces through art and cycling. We were thrilled to be invited by The Hepworth Wakefield, with the added dimension of doing a ride at night as part of March’s ArtWalk! Being unfamiliar with Wakefield, the city seemed a perfect canvas for our expeditions and psychogeographical experiments. (“Psychogeography” was originally coined by Situationist International artists in the 1950s, who were interested in finding new ways of navigating the city – thinking of it not just as somewhere just to work and to consume, but to play and create new situations and experiences).

We decided to call the event Ride The Lights  and it the run up we had been talking to the team at The Hepworth Wakefield, who were really excited about the Philip-Lorca diCorcia exhibition. When we saw it we were too! It had us thinking about light and dark, about the way that pictures tell stories or offer intrigue – what we see isn’t always what we think. We were interested in the way diCorcia plays with the boundary of what is real and what’s artifical, and the way in which some of his photos seem to offer us snapshots or fragments of stories that we’ll never know.


The way that diCorcia works means that a lot of his photos reminded us of films – his choices of lighting, of framing, and of backdrops that seem really familiarly American (we’ve seen similar scenes in lots of movies) but also kind of strange. Thinking of how me might explore or discover this strangeness in Wakefield, we started to wonder what would happen if Ride The Lights were the name of a film. And like the films we might imagine when we look at diCorcia’s photographs, this film could be a film that we would never be made, only created in our imaginations. Inspired by diCorcia, we thought about different film genres, and decided to work with horror and film noir. Both are kind of familiar to us all (from Scream to Dick Tracy) and are full of mystery and intrigue. They’re also quite fun to play with on a cold dark night in Wakefield…!


It was at this point that we decided to bring another artist, Paul Miller, into the project. Paul works with different media, including with light and with video mixing. This really interested us, for obvious reasons! Come the evening of Ride The Lights, people arrived at The Hepworth Wakefield to a room filled with projected black and white film – a shifting, whirling mix of clips from classic film noir and horror movies (some of which included bikes – e.g. The Shining, The Bicycle Thief, Silver Bullet), overlaid with moving videos of Wakefield at night, shot from handlebar-mounted cameras on our own bikes (which create a very good almost Steadicam effect!). Once there, people were kitted out with hi vis waistcoats (two red teams and two blue teams), LED-lit balloons and neon glow sticks, and briefed as to the adventure ahead.

We were to explore the city with the film in mind – creating characters, finding locations, and letting the city tell us its own story, in the genre of our choosing. Caleb’s two teams – decked out in red – took horror, and started at the spooky Chantry Chapel on Wakefield Bridge. Paul’s two teams – decked out in Blue -took film noir, starting at the shady Waterfront just next to The Hepworth Wakefield.


We then departed on journeys around Wakefield, on a route loosely based around some of the ArtWalk venues. Along the way, we tried to spy some of the film’s characters in the city, and stopped to imagine some of the scenes taking place behind uncurtained windows or down dark alleyways. We wrote some of our ideas on pieces of paper or on coloured luggage tags, and others we photographed – using street lamps and bike lights for lighting. We created movie taglines, box office posters and recorded soundtracks using our bikes as instruments.

Many of these photographs, texts and snippets of video were sent straight back (on camera phones) to the gallery, where Paul Miller was able to add them to his live video mix inside the space. Projected across the room, the video was not only on the walls but on the wide window too, with the river, the weir and the lights of the city behind it. It looked fantastic! We returned slightly chilly to the warmth of the Hepworth, and shared our discoveries with the other teams in the light of Paul Miller’s fantastic video, his shifting movie of cityscape and stories, of diCorcia-like fragments and souvenirs of our journeys. We will never look at Wakefield in quite the same way…

Paul Miller Ride the Lights Projector

diCorcia image credits left to right:

Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Chris, 28 years old, Los Angeles, California, $30, 1990-92. Courtesy the artist, Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London and David Zwirner, New York/London

Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Roy, “in his twenties”, Los Angeles, California, $30, 1990–92. Courtesy the artist, Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London and David Zwirner, New York/London

Ride The Lights image credits:

Photographer: Eva Pawlata / Leeds Creative TimeBank

Projection image credits:

Courtesy Paul Miller