Public art programme to be launched as Wakefield district ‘not maximising’ its cultural heritage as the home of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore

Despite being home to world-renowned artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, the Wakefield district is failing to make the most of its cultural heritage, a report claims.

By Tony Gardner
Monday, 18th July 2022, 5:27 pm
Updated Monday, 18th July 2022, 5:36 pm

Wakefield Council looks set to address the issue with the launch of an ambitious public artworks programme designed to enrich the lives of residents.

The project aims to bring new artwork to Wakefield and its neighbouring communities.

A report to the Council’s Cabinet states: “The district has an outstanding heritage of public art, including being the birthplace of internationally renowned artists Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

Despite being home to world-renowned artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, the Wakefield district is failing to make the most of its cultural heritage, a report claims.

“Many residents and visitors enjoy the benefits of both the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park every year, along with a number of pieces of public art developed in communities, such as the Featherstone warhorse, the Horbury Redbox Gallery and the murals produced by Rachel List in Pontefract during the Pandemic.

“Despite this heritage and instances of quality public art projects in different communities, the district is not currently maximising the potential benefits of its public art heritage.”

Senior councillors are expected to agree to the adoption of the Wakefield District Public Art Framework at a meeting on Tuesday July 19.

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Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.

The report continues: “One of the key things is to note that ‘public art’ is by no means a single art form, such as a sculpture.

“Public art includes an exciting, engaging ,interactive world of street murals, artistic pavements, fence-lines and benches, to community gardens, audio, video and light-based works projected onto buildings and more.

“They might be permanent or temporary.

“Public art might also be one-off events, unexpected performances and pop-ups, festivals and workshops that take place in any location where the public can access them including parks, town squares, on and inside buildings.”

The new framework also seeks to provide a more consistent approach to the commissioning of public art.

A Public Art Steering Group was set up in November 2021 and includes a range of partners including local businesses and community representatives.

Last year, Wakefield secured Government funding to utilise creativity to support the development of Wakefield City Centre.

One element of this is the Creative Public Spaces programme, which will “introduce high quality and accessible public art installations, reflecting the district’s unique heritage in this field.”

Work is ongoing to commission a range of new public artworks ahead of a planned installation in Spring 2023.

Work is also taking place on a programme looking at the opportunities for the introduction of murals.