Hepworth director’s frustration as gallery loses out on award

Handing over the key of the partially complete new gallery to Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield.Simon in one of the exhibition spaces.
Handing over the key of the partially complete new gallery to Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield.Simon in one of the exhibition spaces.

THE director of the Hepworth Wakefield has spoken out in frustration after the gallery was snubbed for a top award.

The £35m attraction was nominated for this year’s Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stirling Prize on Saturday.

But the award was given to the University of Cambridge’s £82m Sainsbury Laboratory.

In a post to his blog, Hepworth director Simon Wallis said the winner “isn’t a building that excites me”.

And he said it was “hard” losing out to a building with a much bigger budget.

Mr Wallis said: “I want to be a gracious loser, but it was especially hard to lose to a building with an enormous budget, dwarfing ours, in an extremely privileged city, and a project to which the public barely have access.

“It isn’t a building that excites me at all from the photographs I’ve seen, but of course I reserve full judgement until I do, if I ever get access to it.

“It’d be good too if some of the judges of the Stirling Prize were from the north, or lived in the north of England.”

The Hepworth, designed by architect David Chipperfield, opened last May and attracted 512,000 visitors in its first year, far exceeding the predicted figure of 150,000.

RIBA named it as Regional Building of the Year for Yorkshire earlier this year, and it also won national Civic Trust Awards.

But the Sainsbury Laboratory, where 120 botanists work to unlock the secrets of plant development, was chosen by Stirling Prize judges for its “extraordinary degree of sophistication and beauty”.