Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Hepworth, Wakefield

Pressure of work; I couldn’t get to the Hepworth on the day, so I combined a visit to Leeds, the day after, with a shimmy off the M1 to the Hepworth in Wakefield.  The wind scallywagged some leaves as I crossed the bridge from car park to gallery, but there were great, sturdy sheaves in the sky, with sprays of back-light fanning between them.

Inside, with only a parcel of time to spare, I concentrated on Hepworth’s work, sculptures only, which should have felt as if something was being missed, but didn’t.  I prepared by looking online at some of Barbara Hepworth’s ‘hospital drawings’, which, though none are on display at The Hepworth, are wonderful.
Inside, I viewed two rooms of Hepworth’s sculptures, but must admit the one called ‘Totem’ took the bulk of my attention. You can see one view of it at

though, to be honest, I’ve got three better snaps on my mobile.

White marble, and stands about 5ft tall, roughly 1.5 in what we don’t think in.  From one aspect, it’s an eagle, perched high, still.  Feral, not threatening, but observing like a sentinel, all-seeing, against  intervention.  It has a mouth, which speaks not to welcome but to record the things it sees. From another aspect, it is human, but cowed, close to being defeated, and this view takes me back to the previous one to see if the eagle I saw wasn’t, in fact, human.  Which it was.
From another aspect, the one you get when driving from Chapel-en- la Frith to Tideswell, they’re outdoors, and stand severally in the green slopes up to Wall Cliff, grazing fields shorn of their ruminants, but making good explanations of the shadows.

From another, it’s a Tawny Owl, white ruff something of halo, landing on a fence post at the Dukesbank Plantation, on the road south into Bakewell.

Richard Dillon

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