Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

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Trips & Adventures – 16 January 2020

The train trip from Manchester to Wakefield (via Leeds) was uneventful, but we did manage to get a photo of Peter, our famous Out In The City official photographer. He is normally behind the lens so rarely features on this website.

We walked from the train station to the Hepworth Gallery which is an art museum which opened on 21 May 2011. The gallery is situated on the south side of the River Calder and takes its name from artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth who was born and educated in the city.

The Gallery cafe was really busy but we managed to sit together. Most of us had chicken burgers with three-times fried chips and coleslaw and the usual hand crafted coffees, whilst others had the gluten free and vegetarian options.

David Hockney in 1963

Specifically, we wanted to see the exhibition – Alan Davie & David Hockney: Early Works. The exhibition brought together around 45 paintings and works on paper by Alan Davie and David Hockney, many of which have not been seen publicly for decades.

Pairing early works by the late Scottish painter Alan Davie (1920-2014) and David Hockney, the gallery sets out to acknowledge Davie’s influence on the younger Hockney, who took what he needed from the older artist and moved on.

Cocks, bums, breasts, bits of bodies and various abstract symbols feature in two related painting exhibitions. “We 2 boys together clinging”, were more than random painterly mutterings, but were open provocation in the art of the early 60s. While Hockney was being openly gay, and quoting Walt Whitman, Davie had begun adding brushed-on phrases: Mango Time, Peach Time, Banana Time to otherwise abstract canvases. You can take these, I suppose, as sexual euphemisms.

We then made our way on the free bus to the city centre to view the cathedral and have refreshments in the cathedral cafe, before heading home.

The latest “Crap Towns” survey report suggests that six of the ten worst places to live in England are in Yorkshire. Wakefield is a “cultural wilderness” according to this survey. Of course, that is easy to counter. It’s just not true. So let’s be positive, let’s celebrate this special region of the UK and let’s ignore anyone who says any differently.

One thought on “Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

  1. I have only ever been to Wakefield on business so I never saw the cultural side; sorry I missed the trip as it was clearly an eye opener in terms of culture and Wakefield is clearly not a desert culturally (must have been written by someone from”darn sarf”?) Pauline xx

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