February 3, 2011 / 4:53 PM / 8 years ago

New Hepworth gallery to open in northern England

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A new gallery named after British sculptor Barbara Hepworth and costing 35 million pounds ($58 million) will open to the public in the northern English city of Wakefield on May 21, organizers said on Thursday.

They added that The Hepworth Wakefield would be the largest purpose-built art gallery to open in Britain since Tate St Ives in the 1990s, and represented one of the biggest contemporary art spaces outside London.

The announcement is a welcome piece of good news amid broad cuts to arts projects across the country, as the government seeks to bring down a record budget deficit.

Designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the gallery is made up of 10 trapezoidal blocks and stands on the banks of the River Calder.

Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate museums, called it “one of the most exciting and beautiful galleries in the United Kingdom.”

The highlight of the gallery’s collection will be over 40 works donated by Hepworth’s family comprising prototypes and models in plaster, aluminum and wood from which metal casts were made at a foundry.

The installation will include the full-size prototype made by Hepworth of one of her best- known sculptures, “Winged Figure,” commissioned for the John Lewis Partnership building in Oxford Street London and installed in 1963.

Hepworth, who was born and raised in Wakefield, also created a 21 ft bronze sculpture “Single Form” which stands in the United Nations Plaza in New York.

She died in an accidental fire at her Cornwall studio in 1975, aged 72.

Alan Davey, chief executive of the Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to be a major investor in The Hepworth Wakefield, supporting the project with 5 million pounds in funding through the National Lottery.

“The opening of this world-class center for the visual arts will be one of the cultural highlights of 2011.”

Hepworth’s granddaughter Sophie Bowness added: “We felt that Wakefield was the most appropriate permanent home for the plasters to be seen amongst the works of Barbara’s contemporaries and in the city where she was born and grew up.”

The permanent display will also include a gallery devoted to the rarely seen Gott Collection of 1,200 works on paper from the 18th and 19th centuries depicting over 200 Yorkshire views and landmarks.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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