Rooted in the heart of Yorkshire, the Hepworth Wakefield is an art gallery, museum and creative space as unique as Barbara Hepworth – the woman who inspired it. Its significant collection and compelling programme explore the connections between the local and the global, and blend the contemporary with the historical. We spoke with Rosie, the shop’s Retail Development Manager, to find out more!
1. The Hepworth Wakefield is a unique and inspiring art gallery, museum and creative space. How has this incredibly rich environment influenced your bookselling vision?
The Hepworth Wakefield strives to be bold across all aspects of the gallery. We embrace a spirit of adventure to challenge and surprise and this ethos runs through our bookselling vision. There is such rich inspiration in the gallery from our ambitious collection and exhibitions to our core story of Barbara Hepworth and Yorkshire as the birthplace of modern British sculpture. Our book-buying is also influenced by the gallery’s riverside setting, Sir David Chipperfield’s striking architecture and the beautiful garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. We champion women in the arts and this, and the diversity of our programme, are all reflected in our bookselling and publishing by supporting a diverse range of subjects, authors and other book contributors.
We strive to sell publications that enhance our audience’s creative encounters and provide a richer experience for those engaging with our gallery.
2. What is the history of The Hepworth Wakefield shop? Do the exhibitions and art displayed at in the gallery inform your buying?
The Hepworth Wakefield is an award-winning art gallery in the heart of Yorkshire, set within Wakefield’s historic waterfront. Designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the gallery opened in May 2011. Named after Barbara Hepworth, one of the most important artists of the 20th century who was brought up in Wakefield, the gallery presents major exhibitions of the best modern and contemporary art and has dedicated galleries exploring Hepworth’s art and working process.
The bookshop offers a stunning range of unique publications, artist books and artist-designed products. We have a successful publishing strand, working independently and co-publishing with leading publishers. Award-winning publications include collaborations with fashion designer JW Anderson, and artists Magdalene Odundo and Martin Parr. As a charity all bookshop sales support our mission to create exceptional art experiences that inspire, captivate, surprise and enhance everyone’s lives. In the art world, where there are increasing financial pressures, we are delighted that our bookshop is able to act as a window to the gallery and provide it with vital income, ensuring its continued viability and sustainability.
3. What is your favourite part of working at the Hepworth Wakefield?
I started working at the gallery just before it opened in 2011. Since then, an everchanging programme of beautiful collection displays and a commitment to showing contemporary art means that no two days are ever the same. I love the creativity and collaboration that comes with my job, from designing products and sourcing interesting books to working with artists on limited edition artworks and publications.
4. What sort of books do you find your customers are mostly interested in? Do they generally correlate with featured exhibitions or are they more varied?
Anything related to our exhibitions and collections will always sell well in our bookshop. However, we find our customers are motivated by more than just art and design. The same interests that inspire the artists we exhibit in our galleries often motivate our customers’ book purchases; from poetry, music and dance to philosophy. We always ensure there is something for everyone, from gift-led paperbacks to high-end limited edition publications.
5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop in the coming months that you’d like to share with us?
In Spring 2022 we will be opening a major new art exhibition, Sheila Hicks: Off Grid. The exhibition will explore the many facets of the artist Sheila Hick’s ground-breaking work from her small woven drawings to large-scale installations that will fill the gallery spaces with vibrant colour. To coincide with the exhibition, we will be publishing the catalogue Sheila Hicks: Off Grid which has been designed in collaboration with APFEL and includes contributions from Andrew Bonacina (Chief Curator), Jo Applin (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Jennifer Higgie (Editor, Frieze). A special, limited edition version of the catalogue will also be available, featuring textured elements. Alongside this we will stock the newly reprinted Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor published by Yale. The volume, designed by Irma Boom, was named the ‘most beautiful book in the world’ at the 2007 Leipzig Book Fair. Both these publications exemplify the way in which art and artists push the boundaries of book design. With the publications we produce and sell, we strive to subvert the traditional forms of publishing. Art doesn’t stand still and nor do we.
Sheila Hicks: Off Grid, The Hepworth Wakefield, 7 April – 25 September 2022