World-class artists enhance gallery’s growing stature

Three major artists in a single venue underlines the standing of The Hepworth Wakefield. Nick Ahad reports.

Alice Channer, Jessica Jackson Hutchins and Linder Sterling
Alice Channer, Jessica Jackson Hutchins and Linder Sterling

It’s one thing for us to continue to crow about how The Hepworth Wakefield has added immeasurably to Yorkshire’s international reputation for visual art.

If we can’t back up that rather grand claim with evidence, then we’re on a bit of a hiding to nothing.

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Fortunately, we are able to say that Yorkshire absolutely belongs on an international stage in terms of visual art and we can add to that, witness: Alice Channer, Jessica Jackson Hutchins and Linder Sterling, three artists of international standing, who are not only exhibiting this year at The Hepworth Wakefield, but are exhibiting at the same time.

It would be slightly inaccurate to say that they are exhibiting together – Channer and Jackson Hutchins have a solo exhibition each, while Sterling is honoured by the gallery with a major retrospective spread over three rooms.

While the three have curated and created their exhibitions individually and have individual rooms for each of their exhibitions, they share the space of the gallery with each other and with Barbara Hepworth who provides one of a number of common threads between the three artists.

Jackson Hutchins is an American-born, Berlin-based artist, whose colourful and vibrant works are described as ‘half-paintings, half-sculptures’.

“I came and looked at the gallery and had a model of it back in my studio, so I feel like I have been working towards getting all these works in just the right place over the past year,” says Jackson Hutchins, who has exhibited all over the world, but sees her debut solo show with this exhibition.

“The space is incredibly theatrical, we’ve even lit it almost like a theatre space. I’m not just saying this, it really is a privilege to be showing my work here.”

Alice Channer is the second artist showing at The Hepworth. A collection of pieces that sit together under the title Invertebrates, she says it is only when an audience ‘meets’ her work that it gains its full meaning. “I am really interested in understanding how the sculptures, as inanimate objects, become animated as you walk around them and interact with them,” she says. “A sculpture that hangs five metres from the ceiling and looks quite a large piece, becomes no more than ten centimetres thick when you view it from the side.

“At 5.30pm on Friday there is quite a ceremonial moment when the work is handed over and the audience begin to shape what it is and how it is in the space.”

The third artist on show is the highly influential Linder Sterling. Most famed for her iconic Buzzcocks posters which she designed in the late 1970s, she went on to gain infamy for using pornographic images in collages for her work.

“It is a strange moment, when you look back to pull together a retrospective and look at the work you have created,” she says.

“At first I thought ‘I’m too young for a retrospective’, but it’s been wonderful’.”

International artists’ work on show at the Hepworth

Alice Channer: British artist whose work at The Hepworth explores anthropomorphism in objects and wonders if figurative work necessarily means sculpture has to take on human like form.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins: American artist whose work includes vast, painted canvases which are shaped into sculptures and then supported by industrial ladders.

Linder Sterling: Liverpool born artist whose work in the 1970s had a huge influence on popular culture of the day.

The Hepworth Wakefield, opening tomorrow, on show until May 12.