Regular readers of this blog will know that I like to travel a bit, flitting off to mainland Europe whenever I get the chance. Truth be told I’m more familiar with Amsterdam and Berlin than I am with many British cities and those that I do know well are in the south. I’m ashamed to say I rarely venture much beyond Birmingham. We were heading considerably further north on Monday (in our terms, anyway), off to Yorkshire to visit a recuperating friend for a couple of days but staying in a hotel and entertaining ourselves for some of the time so as not to tire her out.
We arrived in Wakefield after thrashing up several motorways for over three hours, pleased to find that The Hepworth Wakefield‘s café was as welcoming as its website suggested. Barbara Hepworth was born and grew up in Wakefield hence the location of this gallery dedicated to her sculpture which shows the work of other sculptors, too, including Henry Moore. Designed by David Chipperfield, the building alone was worth the journey seeming to float above the river. I love Hepworth’s beautifully curved pieces which make me want to run my hands over them and there are some gorgeous examples of her work here, along with a room of maquettes and preparatory sketches. We had just enough time to wander around the newly planted garden before the rain set in again.
Tuesday was spent at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but not before a quick trot around Holmfirth whose main claim to fame is its location for the ’80s BBC sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine, still milked for all it’s worth by the local tourist office according to our friend. The main attraction for us was Read, the small but perfectly formed bookshop which backs onto the town park.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park was as lovely as I’d hoped with pieces shown off against a beautiful panoramic backdrop. My favourite was Hepworth’s Family of Man but there were some spectacular Henry Moores and the impressive Ai Weiwei piece Circle of Heads /Zodiac Heads to admire. All three of us agreed that the half-dissected Damien Hirst figure was something of a blot on the landscape. A thoroughly enjoyable day, warm enough for a long lunch on the veranda of one of the park’s cafes soaking up the view.
I would love to have visited the wonderfully named Whippet and Pickle if only for a coffee but sadly it’s closed on Monday and Tuesday, and we were due to hit the road reasonably early on Wednesday after saying goodbye to M. Maybe next time.
And the book? Unsurprisingly, there was more chatting than reading but I enjoyed what I read of Fairyland, Sumner Locke Elliott’s autobiographical coming-of-age story about a gay writer searching for love in the ’30s and’ 40s. If you’d like to know more, it was Kim’s review at Reading Matters that made me pick it up.