The Hepworth, Wakefield

As a diversion I took myself off to The Hepworth in Wakefield. Its less than 30 minutes form my house but I’ve only been there once since it opened. Those in Wakefield think its a bit of a waste of money and in the wrong place – just far enough outside of town to be a bit hard to find and really difficult to turn in to the car park at the first attempt. However it has attracted three really interesting exhibitions all at once this year.

The highlight for me was probably the small paper works from David Storey. He’s a writer who draws as his writing allows, often as a diversion from the writing, allowing ideas to percolate and form almost subconsciously.

What was exhibited was a selection of sketchbook pages produced over years. All were almost identical in size and all were drawn using very similar materials. Each piece had been displayed next to another page on three very long shelves, approximately at the centre of the wall. Lining up this volume of work made it very impressive, a case of more is more.

Each page was drawn on but there were few, if any, recognisable forms in these drawings.

Kettles Yard in Cambridge is currently closed to allow more gallery space and an all-important cafe to be added to the site. As a result a selection of their collection is on display in Wakefield. Kettles Yard was originally a home to Tate curator Jim Ede, he met and became friends with many artists and collected small works by many of them. He then displayed these items in his house and provided tours during term-times to students of the University of Cambridge of his collection.

Some of the items were displayed here in a mock-up room, this was a clever idea. It forced the viewer to look a little more closely to find the art amongst the beautiful furniture that surrounded it.

It was in this gallery that I began to draw some of the items. I found it very strange that while I was drawing I was expecting people to be looking over my shoulder to what I was doing. This wasn’t the case, if anything I was given a wide berth to get on with my sketching in peace.

I had felt self-conscious about drawing in public previously but this has helped me realise that really, no-one else is interested in what it is I’m doing and that I should really just get on when I’m drawing in different situations.

Finally I visited Stanley Spencer – Of Angels and Dirt. This was the largest collection of his paintings brought together in some time and from a variety of public and private collections. I found myself getting quite close to the paintings and looking at the way he had used paint to cover the canvas, or not as it was in some cases.  I feel compelled to cover a piece of paper when I am drawing but it is viewing paintings up close that has shown me that this isn’t always the case. In many of these pieces canvas was visible on the paintings surface. The background was not covered so densely in paint that all traces of the fabric background had been obliterated. In fact some areas of the paintings that were white were not in fact paint but looked to be the exposed, unpainted background.

The overall idea I took away from Angels and Dirt was Spencers’ choice of subject for his paintings. He stuck close to home and depicted the corners of boat-yards and gardens that others may have overlooked. Again reinforcing that inspiration is everywhere.

Another notebook produced and compiled in Microsoft Sway, the link is here.


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