Sometimes I wonder if Wakefield has more than its fair share of moanin’ minnies and dismal jimmys.
The Hepworth Gallery was hardly built before the knockers were about. The new building became a target for the ‘half a glass empty’ brigade. Dire consequences were joyously predicted for the project.
“White Elephant’ was a very popular description for a building which is already settling into the developing waterfront. I would remind people that when the ‘Angel of the North’ swam into people’s consciousness many local people condemned it as a huge waste of money. Now most of the very same people couldn’t even contemplate being without it.
I was delighted to hear a few weeks ago that The Hepworth had welcomed 100,000 visitors in just five weeks. An amazing achievement. This means that the target for the year, 150,000 will be obliterated. I would encourage all parents and grandparents to take the children on a visit. Don’t try and see everything. Just ask the children to find two or three things they like and over an ice cream, get them to tell you why. They are never too young. There is a wonderful, safe play area just outside the gallery which is very popular.
We were there a couple of weeks ago and fell into conversation with a man who was up by train from Bristol. The Hepworth in the morning and the YSP after a lunch in the excellent cafe.
More than 30 years ago the YSP was just a dream in a young man’s head. Peter Murray lectured in Art when Bretton Hall was a college of further education.
Somehow he managed to persuade many well known sculptors to “lend” some of their sculptures to the YSP.
He has worked tirelessly since that founding day until the YSP has become the UK’s number one sculpture park. It now has a worldwide reputation.
Why Peter hasn’t been knighted I will never understand. I know that visitor numbers this year are pushing towards 400,000 and rising.
Over the last 30 years almost every famous sculptor has exhibited in Wakefield.
The current show is the work of Jaume Plensa from Catalonia. I urge you to take not just the children, but your grandparents, your uncles and aunts and even your godmother. This exhibition has been so successful that it has been extended for a further three months.
I have never heard my sister talk about art but she visited this show and couldn’t stop talking about it.
If you are a little intimidated by sculpture just give it a go. It really is accessible and I don’t believe anyone can visit without seeing something that fascinates them.
Come on Wakefield. Here you have 600acres of rolling parkland with two lakes, some wonderful woodland embellished by the work of the world’s leading sculptors. The Hepworth, the other jewel in the city’s crown is 10 minutes drive away.
We are lucky to have them.
Buses run to the park and to The Hepworth And, guess what? You enter both for free!