Situated in the former industrial heartland of Wakefield, The Hepworth has brightened up the landscape on the banks of the River Calder for over a decade – with every increasing voracity.

For a city categorised as the nation’s fourth worst hit by government cuts since 2009, a free-to-enter garden space – in addition to the award-winning gallery which doesn’t charge admission – is set to further the organisation’s vital role in Wakefield’s community.

Lynn Chadwick’s Dancing Figures, 1956; Barbara Hepworth’s Ascending FormGloria, 1958; Sir Michael Craig-Martin’s Pitchfork (Yellow), 2013; and Rebecca Warren’s The Three, 2017 are the latest additions to support this ongoing mission. Teams are at present busily installing the sculptures on the £1.8 million site, prior to the works going on display for the 9th August official opening .

Chartered Institute of Fundraising October 2021
The Hepworth Wakefield
Lynn Chadwick’s 'Dancing Figures' installed in The Hepworth Wakefield Garden © Nick Singleton

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “It was important to us that the new garden presented both modern and contemporary sculpture to act as an introduction to what first time visitors will find inside the gallery.

“The new garden will allow us to further explore Barbara Hepworth’s legacy and her deep connection to the Yorkshire landscape of her childhood. We are delighted to be able to bring to Wakefield art works by such well-known artists for people to enjoy in our new outdoor setting.”

The landscape will, when completed, play host to more than 14,000 herbaceous plants and shrubs, 120 metres of beech hedging and 52 trees. A meadow will cover the main area of garden, along with locally native Purple Moor Grass mixed with other more colourful and exotic species. The selected plants have been chosen to ensure year-round horticultural interest for visitors.

The Hepworth Wakefield
Michael Craig Martin’s ‘Pitchfork (Yellow)’ installed in The Hepworth Wakefield Garden © Nick Singleton

Speaking when the initial designs were unveiled, Tom Stuart-Smith, the award-winning designer behind the project, noted: “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.

“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.” His goal is nearing fruition, with work progressing at a pace and a final funding boost being sought.

The funding formula

Despite inching ever closer to the official opening of its new green space, The Hepworth still requires support to the tune of £150,000 in order to complete the garden’s funding package.

The Hepworth Wakefield Garden, designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, has been made possible by contributions from:

Arts Council England
Garfield Weston Foundation
The Wolfson Foundation
Foyle Foundation
G&K Boyes Charitable Trust
Wakefield Council
The Morrisons Foundation
Art Fund
Stuart and Trish Fletcher
Jeremy and Martine Burton
The Roden family
Other individuals, companies and trusts

The second phase of the garden project will also see the creation of a new Garden Studio, which will be able to accommodate a class of up to 33 students and two teachers for educational sessions. This, it is hoped, will be completed in spring 2020.

The restoration of a Grade II-Listed gatehouse on the site will be undertaken as part of the overall initiative. When operational the gatehouse will be run by The Hepworth Café team; serving fresh, seasonal food and drink.

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