Simon Bartle, Visual Arts Correspondent

Yorkshire Sculpture International At The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth have once again excelled themselves with their latest exhibition, which is part of the Yorkshire Sculpture International (YSI). It is quite simply a 'must see', and cements the reputation that they have earned for curating world class sculpture exhibitions.

The exhibition presents new commissions, début UK presentations, and also some of the early sculptures of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

The central concept of the exhibition is the idea of 'truth to materials'. This is not so much a mantra as a starting point for a conversation, and all the featured artists focus on materiality. Hepworth certainly experimented with materials, and her Disc with Strings (Moon), which uses aluminium and string, demonstrates how sculptures are influenced by the chosen medium. Hepworth innovated throughout her life, and experimented with many different materials.

The work of Jimmie Durham (b.1940, USA) sits alongside the sculptures of Hepworth and Moore. His unprocessed, and partially worked natural materials challenge our view, and pre-held notions of what constitutes sculpture. Through his work he constantly draws us back to the natural world.

Work from Wakefield's own art collection includes sculptures created using the many different materials with which we all engage on a daily basis. The theme of 'Material Encounters' is explored further by the works of Helen Marten (2016) and Cerith Wyn Evans (2018), which interrogate our individual responses to the materials around us. They were both winners of The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. In addition, the works of Lynda Beglis, Alexandra Bircken and Magali Reus, are also on view, and they examine how materials determine the process of creating sculpture. All these three artists have had solo exhibitions at The Hepworth.

Wolfgang Laib (b.1950, Germany) presents his new installation, Without Space - Without Time - Without Body. This is a major installation, breathtaking in both its physical, and visual scope. It creates for the viewer a 'stand and stare' moment. Wolfgang uses rice as the main component of his installation. The rice is piled into small mounds. Perhaps he is using rice to symbolise a crucial component of life, but also at the same time the mounds have a funereal quality. As you take in the work you become lost in your thoughts, and lose all sense of time. Clearly the work evokes 'cycles of nourishment and mortality.' The work is very meditative. Wolfgang invites us to take time to think, and we certainly do that, and much more.

Rosanne Robertson (b. 1984) works in Hebden Bridge and she explores 'boundaries of the human body and its environment.' Her work focuses on queerness and the rural landscapes close to her studio, which she sees as constantly changing over time. That is just her point nothing is 'set in stone'. Her work Stone (Butch) , photo collage and drawing on paper, is arresting. Take your time, stop and explore the work. You will certainly see more of Rosanne's work as the years progress, and judging by what is on view in this exhibition it will be an interesting journey.

Helen Marten (b. 1985, UK) presents 1094 Bones, (2018), nylon paint on fabric, stained ash, cast Jesmonite, pencil and enamel. The diverse materials employed in this work go to the very heart of this exhibition and it uses the 'dense accumulation of objects, images and materials that play with the relationship between two- and three-dimensionality.' It does all that, and it is a stunning piece. Marten won the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture in 2016, and the Turner Prize later the same year.

The work of Nairy Baghramain (b. 1971, Iran) combines four materials: unpolished aluminium, wax, lacquer-painted braces, and cork. Works from Nairy's series titled Maintainers are one of the centrepieces of this exhibition. Her work is a true delight and juxtapose the independence and co-dependence of materials.

Jamaican-Canadian Tau Lewis (b.1993, Toronto) for her UK début presents a large textile quilt, The Coral Reef Preservation Society, which depicts aquatic life which reanimates the slaves who lost their lives in the Middle Passage, and were swallowed up by the ocean. Ultimately they became sea creatures, which keep the stories and people alive. The various works presented by Tau are made from fabrics, which have either been donated to her, or have been discarded. Through repurposing Tau honours relationships to the past.

The exhibition also includes the work of Bridget Riley, Anthony Caro, Lynn Chadwick, Anthea Hamilton, it would not be complete without their work.

This wide ranging exhibition, has once again been superbly curated by The Hepworth. The exhibition is a pivotal part of the wider Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019, which is a collaboration between the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Each of the locations are only a 30-minute drive, bus or train ride away from each other, in Leeds and Wakefield. This partnership presents a unique opportunity to see the very best sculpture on your own doorstep.

Yorkshire Sculpture International At The Hepworth Wakefield
Now until 29 September 2019

The Hepworth Wakefield's exhibition programme is sponsored by Hiscox, Henry Moore Foundation, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen and the Contemporary Circle.

The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW
Open daily, 10am – 5pm. Free entry. For further details please visit:

To discover the other events and exhibitions available in the wider Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019 please visit: