Disobedient bodies by JW Anderson at The Hepworth Wakefield – 18th March 2017 – 18 June 2017

It might seem strange that acclaimed British fashion designer J W Anderson would curate an exhibition in Yorkshire. It seems even stranger that the world’s most publicised fashion bloggers and journalists alike, including Stylebubble and Bryanboy would descend on Wakefield in their masses in early March, but this is exactly what happened and if you get the chance to visit you’ll see exactly why.

Issey Miyake Bamboo Pleats dress AW 1989/90

The Hepworth in Wakefield is not too far from where I live and yet I’ve never been. Why? I ask myself. I’ve been to most of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries, and yet not the one on my doorstep? This is probably because Wakefield is an unlikely place to house contemporary art and up until January 2017 I didn’t even know it existed.

I visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park earlier this year and marvelled at how amazing the place was (see earlier blog), this led me to visit The Hepworth (part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle) this weekend, this and the fact that J W Anderson’s ‘Disobedient Bodies’ had just opened to world-wide acclaim.

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Comme des Garcons ‘2D’ collection

The Hepworth has an impressive façade, all moody concrete and square edges. It’s a beautiful building built beside a weir full of abandoned boats and what looks like junk, which is probably art. If you visit on a beautiful day the contrasting colours of the building, the weir, the sky and the boatyard is incredible and I bet it’s the same (but different) on a winter’s day.

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Anthea Hamilton Leg Chair 2012

Disobedient Bodies is the first in a new series of collaborations between The Hepworth Wakefield and individuals from disciplines outside the visual arts, invited to respond to Wakefield’s significant collection of modern British art. It opened on the 18th March 2017 and runs until 18 June 2017.


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Sarah Lucas Bunny Gets Snookered no 9 1997

The show gathers together more than one hundred objects spanning art, fashion, ceramics and design in a ‘series of unexpected conversations’. Anderson describes the show as “exploring how the human form has been re-imagined over the course of the last century”.

The exhibition is designed alongside 6a architects and has a ghostly feel as you wander amongst the rooms, which are divided by large swathes of concertina fabric curtains. Whilst you are not allowed to touch many of the delicate items, they aren’t cordoned off and you are allowed to get very close to them. The most striking exhibit is Anderson’s forest of oversized jumpers (not unlike those in my own wardrobe), where you are allowed to wander freely amongst them, touching and feeling the fabrics.

JW Anderson – 28 0versized jumpers in various knits

It’s strangely perfect to see sculpture by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Henry Moore alongside Jean Paul Gautier’s cone dress particularly as Anderson has manipulated the dress into the shape of a reclining figure, echoing Moore in the adjacent room.

I think my favourite exhibit (aside from the overstretched jumpers) is a haunting black and gold dress by Yves Saint Laurent and Les Lalanne, (the eccentric French husband and wife sculptors) from YSL’s 1969 Haute Couture collection. Claude Lalanne created moulded bronze breastplates and bustiers that served the bodices of a Klein blue and black gown respectively – the black one is on show and wouldn’t look out of place on a Bond villain.

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YSL Lalanne corset dress SS 2002 Haute Couture re-edition from Aw 1969

Aside from Disobedient Bodies, The Hepworth Wakefield has plenty of other things to offer. The vast sculpture gallery is home to incredible works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth amongst others and there’s a chance to see Anthea Hamilton re-imagine Kettle’s Yard until 1st May 2017.

There is a lovely café and a fabulous gift shop and plenty of planned activities happening throughout the year for all the family.

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Helmut Lang – harnesses, holsters and corsets

If you love fashion and art, or just one of them, I urge you to go and see this marvellous exhibition. It’s not often that we get shows as impressive as this in the North of England and we should relish every opportunity to visit them.

Next week, I’m visiting House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth House in the Peak District (also not far from me). I feel very privileged (although I know I shouldn’t), that the North of England is hosting not one but two major fashion exhibitions this year.

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J W Anderson – Ruffle Shorts AW 2013/14

Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)

For more information and directions: http://www.hepworthwakefield.com

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