It is a nail biting time for The Hepworth as it waits for the outcome of its nomination for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 on July 5, writes Olivia Colling, the gallery’s director of communications and development.
It would mean a great deal to all of us to win such a prestigious accolade.
I joined The Hepworth as director of communications and development nearly two years ago, having worked for the past 15 years in major arts organisations in London. The opportunity to work at a gallery that is so ambitious and has so quickly established such a positive international reputation was too good to ignore. To steal the words of fashion designer Jonathan Anderson, “The Hepworth Wakefield is the best gallery that London wishes it had”.
It is now a fortnight since we hosted the judges here at the gallery, including BBC radio personality Jo Whiley. As the only museum north of Birmingham to have been nominated this year, we really wanted to demonstrate what an incredible cultural offer there is here in Wakefield and that you don’t have to travel south to have world class art experiences. To help us convince them, the judges had the opportunity to meet pupils from Airedale Academy Secondary and Sandal Magna Primary – who were enthusiastically taking part in workshops. They also met some of our loyal members as well as visitors, staff, artists and volunteers.
Currently, we are busy taking down our hugely successful Disobedient Bodies exhibition, which had almost 56,000 visits and helped us generate £7 million worth of press coverage for the gallery and Wakefield. This makes way for our summer exhibition Howard Hodgkin: Painting India, which opens next week. Please do join us on Friday, June 30 from 7pm for our opening party to celebrate one Britain’s greatest artists who sadly died earlier this year.
Finally, I want to congratulate art collector Tim Sayer, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his generous gift to Wakefield of his entire art collection. Tim will be back this summer with an exhibition, ‘The Collector Curates’, from August 4.