Last year was an exceptional year for the visual arts in Yorkshire with a number of venues offering stand-out exhibitions – and 2015 looks as though it is going to be of a similar vintage.
The Hepworth Wakefield continues to distinguish itself as one of the finest contemporary art spaces, not only in the region but the whole of the UK, with artists from all over the world lining up to exhibit there. This year the gallery looks set to raise its standing further with two shows, in particular, that exemplify their approach in providing art that is accessible yet challenging.
In February it will host the UK’s first major exhibition of work by the acclaimed American artist Lynda Benglis. A feminist icon, she has influenced many artists – including Cindy Sherman and Paul McCarthy – and the exhibition will include pieces spanning fifty years of her prolific career. In the 1960s and 70s her radical vision changed the landscape of painting and sculpture.
Using brightly coloured and unconventional materials such as latex, polyurethane and glitter, she subverted the purist, masculine nature of the work of her peers.
Later in the year The Hepworth will stage a joint show with Yorkshire Sculpture Park – the first large-scale exhibition of sculptor Anthony Caro’s work since the artist’s death in 2013.
Running from July through to November, it will feature key works from the 1960s through to the present day and will include collaborative projects with architects.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park itself is opening this year with Song for Coal by artists Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson who have created an immersive audio-visual work in the YSP’s newly restored 18th century St Bartholomew’s Chapel. The piece explores the physical and cultural properties of coal and takes a form based on the rose window of Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
The artists have also worked with Opera North singers to produce a “plainsong” which accompanies the film as a soundtrack. The exhibition, which offers a poetic response to an industry that has huge cultural and historical significance for our region, begins on January 10 and continues to April 19.
Leeds Art Gallery’s Cross Currents exhibition, which focusses on the influence of France on Yorkshire-based collectors in the late 19th century, continues into the summer. Drawing together works of French art from the gallery’s permanent collection, it features work by Derain, Bonnard, Sisley, Pissarro, Courbet and others.
In October the gallery will be hosting the British Art Show 8 (BAS8) which is widely regarded as an important barometer of recent developments in contemporary art. The exhibition introduces a new generation of British artists to the wider public and will take over all the galleries in the building. After opening in Leeds the show will then tour to Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton in 2016.
The Graves Gallery in Sheffield is celebrating the work of one of the city’s most popular painters of the 20th century with a major retrospective, the first in nearly 30 years, of Stanley Royle. The exhibition, The Great Outdoors, opened last month and continues until May. Over at the Millennium Gallery, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, on tour from the National Portrait Gallery, will arrive in the spring featuring 60 portraits by some of the world’s top contemporary photographers.