It’s been called one of finest contemporary art museums in Europe and since it opened its doors nearly two years ago, every exhibition shown has totally convinced me of this title.
It’s imposing, metallic like outer shell belies the subtle workings going on inside. The slowly evolving permanent exhibition is quietly beautiful, inspirational and ever informative about all things Hepworth, her contemporaries and the connections between Wakefield and St Ives. This was my fourth visit and just like each one previously, there is always something different to discover in the collection.
Maybe more impressive is just how well The Hepworth interacts with Wakefield, whether it be the clever positioning of the gallery’s windowing taking in very specific view points of the city or the unique events they hold to encourage new audiences. Just last night was collaboration with The Red Bar; Wakefield’s popular Soul, Motown and Northern Soul venue.
Today though, I was here to view the new Linder Sterling exhibition, which follows the highly successful exhibition of Barbara Hepworth’s hospital sketches; reminiscent of both Moore’s sketches of the London Underground bomb shelters and Yorkshire Miners and the sketches of William Blake, it added a new dimension and level of appreciation to Hepworth’s oeuvre.
It turns out I was already very familiar with Linder’s early works, which graced record sleaves such as The Buzzcocks debut single Orgasm Addict; a naked woman’s torso collaged with an iron acting as the head and smiling lips covering the breasts.
Linder has worked with collage for over three decades, from the early cut-and-paste punk fanzines to work presented in light boxes like the ones displayed here.
There are three very different parts to this exhibition. The first being an installation of ten light box photomontages fusing images cut from natural history publications with ballet photographs of the 1950s. Constant threads connect lives of both Linder and Hepworth: music, fashion, and, in particular, a fascination with dance. The sculptural forms of the light-boxes allude to Linder’s powerful torchlight encounter with Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture at The Barbara Hepworth Museum in St Ives in 2009, which prompted her to re-engage with the first time in 35th years. While viewing this work in the darkened room, you’re invited to explore it while listening to recordings of bird song and clips of Hepworth discussing her work. It’s a beautiful, calming and ultimately an enlightening experience.
The second part of the exhibition features thirteen cut-paper collages which fuse fashion images of women (made from magazines published between 1970 when Hepworth broke her leg and suffered ongoing mobility issues and 1975, the year of her death) with images of furniture from catalogues from the same period. The lines of the furniture and those of the body seem to flow seamlessly, creating new shapes and remind me of the work of sculptural fashion designers such as Viktor and Rolf.
The third part is a video which acts as a precursor to The Ultimate Form, a major new performance work which will debut at The Hepworth Wakefield on Saturday 11 May 2013. The video previews rehearsal footage from new ballet choreographed by Kenneth Tindall of Northern Ballet. The dancers appear to be a ‘living collage’, wearing costume made up of images of collages of prints of wood and greenery. It looks like it will be quite a sceptical, the final performance incorporating and dancers from Northern Ballet, alongside classically trained musicians playing the stringed instruments of South Asia and Wakefield’s own Northern Soul dancers.
LINDER STERLING @ The Hepworth Wakefield
Sat 16th February until Sun 12th May 2013. FREE ENTRY
Gallery Walk, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW
TUNE IN + CUT UP
THU 18th APR. 6pm to 9pm. FREE.
Tune In + Cut Up is a fashion and music night taking place at The Hepworth Wakefield on 18 April from 6pm – 9pm hosted by the Youth Panel.
Get involved with textile and photography workshops and listen to DJ mixes whilst adding to our collage wall. There will be a chance to make your own outfit and model it in our own photo studio, as well as seeing some of the fantastic creations by local fashion students and designers modelled on the catwalk made in response to the spring exhibition. Plus take home a souvenir in the form of a bespoke printed tote bag.