Simon Bartle, Visual Arts Correspondent

The Hepworth Wakefield Garden Promotes Sustainability And Ecological Diversity

The first phase of the much anticipated The Hepworth Wakefield Garden is now open. This is a garden for all seasons and has been designed by landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith.

Stuart-Smith has designed eight Gold Medal winning gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, of which, three were awarded best in show.

This is an ambitious and far-reaching project costing £1.8 million, which is designed to transform the area between the main Hepworth Gallery and the adjacent Victoria Mills into a 4,000 square metre free public garden. As with all Stuart-Smith garden designs the underpinning philosophy is to seek to achieve the joint goals of sustainability and increase the ecological diversity. The first phase of the garden achieves these objectives and transforms a previously unused strip of land and in so doing enriches the wider landscape. This is an ongoing project, and it is anticipated that the full garden will be completed by spring 2020.

Step-free paths ensure accessibility for all visitors to the garden, which is designed to accommodate both special events and outdoor sculpture.

Barbara Hepworth said ‘I always envisage “perfect settings” for sculpture and they are, of course, mostly envisaged outside and related to the landscape... I prefer my work to be shown outside. I think sculpture grows in the open light and with the movement of the sun its aspect is always changing’.

The garden provides a wonderful backdrop against which to present four works which are now on display. Lyn Chadwick's Dancing Figures (1956), Hepworth's Ascending Form (Gloria) (1958) are on display alongside Sir Michael Craig-Martin's Pitchfork (Yellow) (2013) and Rebecca Warren's The Three (2017).

Craig-Martin’s 11ft-6in Pitchfork (Yellow) is certainly eye-catching, whilst Hepworth's Ascending Form (Gloria) may be familiar to many as it was previously on display in Wakefield's Trinity Walk. Lyn Chadwick's Dancing Figures has delighted everyone who has seen the piece, and we are quite sure that you will be equally thrilled. It is a truly memorable and iconic sculpture. Rebecca Warren is a contemporary sculptor who principally works in clay, bronze, and steel. In 2014 she was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Her work is innovative and her piece The Three is not to be missed.

Recently, Katy Merrington has been welcomed to The Hepworth to a new post of 'Cultural Gardener'. She will work with Tom Stuart-Smith to complete the planting of 14,000 herbaceous plants and shrubs and 52 trees, but Katy's work will not end there as she has also take on continuing responsibility for maintaining the garden and providing an environment where not only plants and trees can flourish but also where birds and insects can thrive.

The garden is a truly remarkable long-term project which will provide a wonderful backdrop for exhibiting sculptures, and also at the same time enable biodiversity to flourish.

The garden project is truly transformational, and enhances the cultural experience offered by The Hepworth to its visitors. It should certainly a destination of choice for art and garden lovers alike.

The Hepworth Wakefield Garden has been made possible with the generous support from: Arts Council England, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, Foyle Foundation, G&K Boyes Charitable Trust, Wakefield Council, The Morrisons Foundation, Art Fund, Stuart and Trish Fletcher, Jeremy and Martine Burton, The Roden family and many other individuals, companies and trusts.

The Hepworth Wakefield Garden is open alongside the gallery..

The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW
Open daily, 10am – 5pm. Free entry
The Hepworth gallery opened in May 2011 and was awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017.