Measuring approximately 6,000 square metres (two and a half football pitches), The new Hepworth Riverside Gallery Garden will be one of the UK’s largest free public gardens.
Garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith was among the four shortlisted international garden designers and visionary landscape architects vying for the opportunity. The shortlist included: Christopher Bradley Hole and Brita von Schoenaich (joint submission), Cleve West, and Peter Wirtz.
The gallery has already launched a £2.2m fundraising campaign to deliver this ambitious development and has recently received a £250,000 gift from the Garfield Weston Foundation towards the capital costs.
The proposed garden design by Stuart-Smith will be a modern, romantic response to the diverse and sophisticated urban setting surrounding The Hepworth Wakefield. The site brings together the drama of the riverside location, the robust industrial heritage of Wakefield and the angular sculptural form of the gallery.
“Public commissions like these are scarce in the UK. I truly believe in the community and health benefits that gardens can bring and I am particularly excited by the socially transformative opportunities of this project,” said Tom Stuart-Smith. “I am looking forward to working with the gallery to create a beautiful public space in this riverside setting that will be treasured by local residents and visitors alike.”
The gallery has said that rather than directly reflecting the work of Barbara Hepworth or David Chipperfield, the design proposes a distinct environment that echoes the fractured, angular quality of the building, but embues this with an overriding naturalism which reflects Hepworth’s deep connection to the landscape.
“Gardens and the Yorkshire landscape were a hugely important part of Barbara Hepworth’s creative life and they influenced her sculpture and its settings,” said Simon Wallis OBE, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield. “It’s fitting, therefore, that we create a natural environment that would have inspired her, and that will have a rewarding all year round dialogue with our superb building and art collection,”
Beech hedges will provide shelter to vulnerable areas of planting and provide year-round presence, while large trees, such as Beech and Pin Oak will be planted to create bookends to the garden with smaller trees scattered throughout to create height and enclosures. An extensive meadow will cover the main area of garden, with a high proportion of the locally native Purple Moor Grass mixed with other more colourful and exotic species.
Further details about The Hepworth Riverside Gallery Garden will be released early in 2017.
Ground view in summer of The Hepworth Riverside Gallery Garden. Image courtesy Tom Stuart Smith and The Hepworth Wakefield