Vocal support as Hepworth carves out a place on the shortlist for top art prize

Less than a year after opening its doors, The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire’s newest gallery, is in line for the UK’s richest art prize. The £100,000 Art Fund Prize will go to one of 10 shortlisted museums and The Hepworth is the only gallery in the North of England in the running for the money. Arts Correspondent Nick Ahad found out if visitors think the venue deserves to win.

Lesley Barber, 47,and James Brandon Rafter, 7, Ferrybridge.

Lesley: “I was really quite impressed with the gallery, especially with the way it has been designed. I’ve been here quite a few times and like the fact there’s always something new to see. I think the Hepworth deserves a prize because I’m so glad Yorkshire has a gallery like this. I’m sick of everything going to London all the time, and if they win it could mean that more art comes to the region. I like the fact it’s very family-friendly, and I intend to bring all six of my grandchildren to the gallery. James has had plenty to see and do here and I think it’s good that there’s one sculpture the children are allowed to touch. One of the other things I really like is that it has a picnic area – the cafe’s quite expensive, so being able to bring your own food is a big bonus.”

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Terry Cogan, 66, Alex Cogan, 18, York.

Alex: “It’s really interesting. Because I haven’t been before I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I think the exhibitions are presented really well. I’m with my mum and dad, and it’s nice to be able to come and do something as a family like this.”

Terry: We came as a family as a day out where we can all do something together. It’s our first visit here and I think it’s a fantastic facility. The fact that you can get here so easily and it’s accessible is really impressive. When we go to London we visit places like the Royal Academy, and I think this stands up to places like that well. It’s a great addition to Yorkshire and nationally, it helps to have this kind of thing here in Yorkshire. I hope the Art Fund money comes here, it would be good to get it in the region.”

Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield, Clem, 9, Beatrice, 4, Wakefield.

“the children are on holiday so we’re here for all the activities the gallery are holding this week. We come here every couple of months and have since it opened. There has been something new each time and even if we’ve already seen the exhibitions there’s a fantastic cafe and I actually think the shop is really quite special. It’s a fantastic resource for Wakefield and it seems to engage with young people brilliantly and gets them involved with art. I find it really quite moving that Barbara Hepworth’s legacy to the city isn’t just her world famous sculpture, but this building, which is a living monument. A couple of years ago, I arranged an exhibition of her work in Parliament, to raise her profile and the profile of the city. This gallery has put our city on the map.”

Mary Humpleby, 68, Barnsley.

“The lovely thing about the museum is that, because of it being about Barbara Hepworth and all of her work, it makes it all about Yorkshire. We go to lots of museums with our grandchildren and what’s lovely is seeing so many people. I keep hearing that lots of people are coming, so that’s great. We go to Leeds Royal Armouries and lots of other museums in Yorkshire – we like the Cannon Hall in Barnsley. But I think this is one of the nicest we’ve been to and I think this place is really lovely. I don’t really know a lot about art, but I do enjoy coming and looking around and seeing the exhibits. I wish I could understand the art a little bit better, but it’s just lovely to come and see it and it’s lovely to see so many people. I would love it if the Art Fund money came here, because it’s great when that sort of thing comes to Yorkshire.”

Hannanah Hussain, 18, and Safa Hussain, 19, Elland.

Hannanah: “I really like the gallery. The building is really nice, it’s all straight lines and white walls and contemporary. It should win the prize fund because it’s clean, it exhibits the work really well and it’s great, it looks really nice. It’s my first time here. I’m visiting with my sister because I have an art project to do and it seemed a good place to come. I went to the gallery in Leeds, but it was too busy. It feels like a breath of fresh air coming here. All galleries seem the same, but this one has its own identity. We have to win the prize, if only because it would be great for Yorkshire.”

Saffa: “I think it’s really interesting. I don’t really like art, but I said I would come to visit with my sister. Now that I’m here I’m really impressed and am actually enjoying the gallery.”

Sharmaine Kerr, and Lily Kerr 10, Wombwell.

Lily: “I think the gallery is a wonderful place with a lot of strange sculptures that are very different to anything else I’ve seen. I really hope it wins because it would mean they could bring more sculptures and paintings to the gallery. I got to have a look round the gallery yesterday and have been sketching and making puppets today. This is the first art gallery I’ve ever been to and I can’t wait to come back.”

Sharmaine: “I think the Hepworth should win the prize because there’s nothing else like it in the area. Lily loves art and I’m glad that there’s something like this in Yorkshire, and that we don’t have to go all the way to London to be able to see some proper art. I brought Lily because she’s a budding artist and I had read some really good reviews on the website.”

Sheila May, 77, and Keith May, 78, Sheffield.

Sheila: “We visited the Barbara Hepworth museum in St Ives and were very impressed, so we thought we would see what this one was like. At the moment it hasn’t got quite the same atmosphere. I think the big spaces are a little bit daunting. I am impressed by the number of exhibits but would like a few more descriptive notices.”

Keith: “It’s difficult because I think the museum we have at Sheffield is better and has more interaction for people. I was expecting to be able to touch sculptures but suddenly I went to go forward and there was a notice saying ‘Do not touch’ so I was a little disappointed with that. When I saw the grey building I wasn’t impressed from the outside. It’s definitely worth travelling up from Sheffield to come and see this, though. I hope it wins.”

Erica Thomas, 50, and Richard Thomas, 57, from Victoria, Canada.

Erica: “We’re here in Yorkshire visiting our son. We came to the Hepworth based on its reputation. We’ve been visiting all of the galleries and museums in the area and people kept saying to us ‘have you been to the Hepworth yet?’ They have a lovely and varied collection.”

Richard: “I think it’s a very interesting place, and I especially like the use of geometry and light in the design of the building. I think the gallery should win the prize because anything that could help it to keep up the good work is a great idea. It’s one of the best places we’ve visted in Yorkshire.”

Polly Noah and Michael Noah, with Milo, 4, Poppy, 2, London.

Polly: “We’re on holiday from London here in Yorkshire. We came to visit the Hepworth and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park – we’re both big fans of architecture and sculpture and really like David Chipperfield’s buildings. The exhibitions themselves aren’t particularly accessible for children, so the plan is for one of us to take them to a puppet workshop while the other looks around the exhibition and then swap over.”

Michael: “The big glass windows make it a really nice, light-filled space and it’s a fantastic building. I definitely think the outside area could do with some improvements. It looks a bit of a mess, which is a shame because the building is great. If the gallery did get the prize I would suggest that would benefit from some of the money.”

Liz Meek, 55, Reading, Fay Fozard, 77, Brian Fozard, 74, Wakefield.

Liz: “I haven’t lived in Yorkshire for a long time, but I heard about The Hepworth on the national news, which was really good to see. I am really impressed, although you can definitely keep the outside of the building.”

Brian: “I’m a big fan of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and I think this is a great addition to the region. It was the first place we wanted to bring Liz to see. I enjoy the fact that it is so busy and that a lot of the visitors are young people.”

fay: “I really like that they have areas where you can bring your own food. Not all families can afford to buy food in the cafe, so it makes a big difference to how you feel if you can come in and not have to worry about it being really expensive. It means families can enjoy it without worrying about expense.”

Vote for The Hepworth at www.artfundprize.org.uk

Additional reporting: Sarah Marshall and Daniel Wood