Visiting the Hepworth Wakefield

Nestling on the river Calder on the outskirts of Wakefield, the award winning Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery is free to visit and has a wealth of artwork to be enjoyed. Being the home of Barbara Hepworth, there is a strong focus on her work and sculptures, but the gallery has plenty of other artworks to enjoy. The entrance from the car park takes you over a pedestrian bridge above the Calder and the boatyards, themselves artfully arranged. Outside there are some Hepworth’s. Luckily for the general public, many of the artworks have been obtained by the Inland Revenue in lieu of payment of taxes or inheritance tax!


Inside the ground floor is welcoming, bright and spacious. Holding workshops, the café, shop and bathrooms. We were welcomed in by a brief but well informed guide from the reception area and headed for the second floor which holds the artworks. These include the expected Hepworth’s – maybe surprising to some people, who may more readily recognise her home as being St Ives. As well as other interesting artworks, including a Lowry and some Moore’s, as well as the galleries holding the current exhibitions. While we were there it was Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things, which included a larger than expected Degas.


Along with a visit to the nearby Yorkshire Sculpture Park this makes for an interesting destination for art lovers.


Yorkshire Sculpture Park Visit

Have just had a fascinating day out at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP). I had often driven up the M1 and seen the signs for the YSP and wanted to turn off and visit. This time we made a trip to spend the day there and arrived there in time for the opening at 10am, although already the car parks were getting busy.

The YSP is set among parkland with the sculptures scattered around the large site, through parkland and woodland, which includes an ornamental lake the size of a small reservoir. It is so spaced out that you can roam at will, as do the sheep, and allows time to be at one with the artworks rather than peer at them through crowds. Really special. There are the normal Moore’s and Hepworth’s on display, and it is wonderful to see these in such a pastoral setting. It’s also great that you can touch and feel these artworks to really immerse yourself in appreciation. As we walked along the pathway from the YSP centre we noticed the names stamped in the pathway metalwork, curiously similar to the works of Willem Boshoff, who is currently exhibiting at the YSP, with views away into the distance of the rolling hills.

Mid-way round we stopped off at “The Weston” café and had good food and drink in the light-filled Scandinavian style rectangle of wood and glass. We trailed through the woods to view Alfredo Jaar’s, The Garden of Good and Evil as well as hiking up the “Seventy-One Steps” by David Nash. As we followed and rounded the lake we had differing landscape views of Jaume Plensa’s “Wilsis”, a seven-metre high stone face that stares imperiously out over the lake and countryside. Heading uphill we moved towards the fabulous Henry Moore reclining figures. It is such a great experience to see the scale of these bronzes amid the splendour of the park. Heading up we stopped for more refreshments at the YSP centre, using the second-floor terrace to enjoy the vista’s before browsing in the shop and heading home. As we hadn’t done one whole edge of the grounds or walked up to the third YSP building, the Longside, it looks as though it bears repeat visits, so lucky locals. If you really needed to view all the artworks in one visit you certainly could, you’d just need to do some planning beforehand and get your walking boots out for a very full day.


YSP Visit – For more images.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park II Images

Image from our visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park .

Henry Moore – Reclining Figure Connected Forms
Henry Moore Reclining Figure
Henry Moore – Reclining Figure
Moore – Reclining Figure Bronze – Detail
Moore – Large Two forms. And an obliging sheep
Damian Hurst
Mark Di Suvero. The Cave.
Capper – Tread Pad
Capper – Tread Pad
The Weston – Car Park entrance
The Weston

Leaving the high-rise behind

You might not recognise the name, Michael Wolf, but you will probably recognise some of his work, hauntingly detailed work of city-stressed commuters and high rise mega buildings.

Architecture of Density 39, 2005. By Michael Wolf
Architecture of Density 39, 2005. By Michael Wolf

There is a fascinating quote from an interview with him that “As a photojournalist I was always aware of composition in my photographs, and one of the things I always liked doing was not letting the viewer be able to escape from the picture. So as soon as you have sky there, you look up and you can leave the picture in some form. It’s the same with the architecture. If you have the sky and the horizon, you know approximately how big it is, and there’s no real illusion there. By cropping it like that, I’m not describing the building any more, I’m creating a metaphor.”

Tokyo Compression 18, 2010. By Michael Wolf
Tokyo Compression 18, 2010. By Michael Wolf

Stunning stuff. And a lasting legacy to leave behind.

High Fives

The proliferation of City high rises has stimulated the need to identify new and distinctive features. Perhaps the most challenging is the glass indoor climbing wall at 22 Bishopsgate, Central London.


The melding of social and business features, the introduction of work/life balance with the yoga studio and juice bars, along with the hipster friendly cycle park, all lends itself to the vision of improved lifestyles. But really, at 400 foot up there’s a glass wall to climb up, is that ultimate posing or just terrifying? Maybe there is a nice coffee lounge you can hang around in while watching others, or maybe they seal the whole area off to avoid vertigo and panic attacks.


It all comes with the ubiquitous viewing platform, even higher up. I’m waiting for the Instagram moment a free climber scales the outside, while inside terrified climbers hug their holds tighter, chalk puffs smothering the glass!



New Art Gallery in MK


The re-designed Milton Keynes Gallery recently re-opened allowing visitors the first chance to see changes from the £12m refit. From the outside it is unprepossessing. With its increased girth, the small silver cube has become a large silver box. Inside though the increased space has created more room for exhibitions while still being compact. This is one Gallery you don’t exhaust yourself in with endless room after room of tight packed artwork. Upstairs via concrete steps and primary coloured steelwork you ascend to the Sky Room, a flexible open space for events and activities that can even double up as a cinema. It has stunning views over Campbell Park and the Buckinghamshire countryside.


The current exhibition is Lie of the Land. Like the architecture, it is a quirky mix of the eclectic without being too domineering or demanding. With street plans on Turkish rugs, Greenham Common banners, Brian Milne’s iconic MK Bench Seat, photographs of roundabout signs with no names (MK was being built), and including a classic, “The Derby Day” by William Powell Frith, it is a visual feast and well curated. With a smart giftshop and a tidy café this is one gallery it is a delight to visit. There is free entrance, so no excuses not to visit the shiny new art gallery in Central Milton Keynes.

One Large Vessel

A gigantic new sculpture has been unveiled in New York City, designed by the exciting Heatherwick group. The giant walkway resembles an escherian staircase, a vision from MC Esher interpreted for the 21st Century. This very public centrepiece in Hudson Yards – a new development on Manhattan’s upper west side that sits above a huge rail yard – is a stand-out filigree of walkways and landings, a huge spiral staircase which from the top, after a mile long walk, offers views over the Hudson river and afar.

Heatherwick, the Vessel, Hudson Yard, NYC

The 150ft-tall structure comprises 2,500 steps on 159 interconnecting flights of stairs. Filling this colossal public space the “Vessel” offsets its bulking structure with the millennial-friendly colour of rose gold, a soft pink tone of polished copper, that seems to glow day or night.

Hudson Yard, Heatherwick’s the Vessel

The Hudson Vessel.

A little like the nearby “High Line” this is a promenade, for people to share and enjoy. While the appellation the “Vessel” seems temporary, it does somehow seem appropriate, offering a journey through space. But, if it does have to be renamed, it would be nice to include some influence of what was there before, the industrial heritage of the railyards and nearby dockworks.






How much is that garden on the bridge…


London’s Garden Bridge.  Despite not being built it is a showcase of design folly and loony tunes ideas.  So it’s probably good value to lose £53m to reinforce the fact that no start-up charity should be trusted to divert public funds, and that celebrity ideas should remain just that – ideas – and not try to be transformed into an idealised future.

The recent final report reveals the financial disarray over the simple concept of building a brand new pedestrian bridge in Central London. The Garden Bridge came brim full of idealised bucolic visions which should have been a warning, but it wasn’t until a new mayor of London was appointed that sanity prevailed, the plug was pulled, and the plans put in that bin of “Eccentric British ideas that shouldn’t see the light of day”. Ever.

Of course, once established the charitable trust did have somewhat of an obligation to proceed, whether that could be interpreted as spending £43m of public funds (the other £10.5 was from private donations) and to pay themselves £1.7m is another matter.


But even after the project itself ended in 2017, this final report states that a final £5.5m in DfT funding should be given to the trust as part of the cancellation agreement. You might be expected to think that at least some of this bridge concept was built, albeit maybe a bastardised, rudimentary version that enable pedestrians to cross the Thames. Er, no. Not one brick. Not one tree. This really does highlight the runaway nature of grand schemes.


So in the era of restricted public funding and cost-pressures on vital services like the NHS, Mental Health Care and the Police among others, have we really just spent £53m on an artist illustration. Er, Yes. Maybe we could have just planted some trees and flowers on the existing bridges. Oh no, hang on, that wouldn’t be a concept would it? And yes, like buses more are coming this way. Is this idea more privatisation of public spaces, with similar issues to the Garden Bridge. Let’s wait and see.




Is that a Design! Of the year?

Forensic Architecture’s Counter Investigations exhibition

It’s probably an impossibility to focus on one thing when there are so many types of products shortlisted for the Design of the Year. But unintentionally the Design Museum’s winners video almost lambasts the concept. Is it a rocket ship, an operating theatre that fits in a backpack, or a ballet costume that wins?

I’ve previously enjoyed Designs of the Year as they throw up culturally-rich ideas, thought provoking concepts and usually an outstanding design or two. The 2018 design shortlist seems to represent a gargantuan version of a Springwise newsletter.

How credible is it when you need to review a rocket in space, against recognition for a pile of garbage in the sea? Anyway the overall winner is Forensic Architecture’s Counter Investigations exhibition. And yes that is as easy to comprehend as it is to read.

Um. A giant mind map has won the Design of the Year?  It could be worse, last year it was a building!

Building Up!

This year’s photographic showcase of architecture throws up a broad range of subjects and approaches.

Sunset above the skyscraper
Sunset above the skyscraper

The focus seems to be diverse with a quirky one, an “up the staircase” shot, and a posed one or someone got lucky with the vibrant colours!

The QUIRKY one- Roof Resident

Nonetheless, somehow this year’s shortlist crop seem a little sterile, to much a square frame on an interesting topic, rather than some form of supreme photography.

My preference is for “Sunset above the skyscraper” but as this was a drone shot rather than an actual photographic composition it does lend itself to what is this showcase about.