The inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture exhibition, which opens tomorrow (21 October) at The Hepworth Wakefield in the north of England, highlights the malleable nature of contemporary sculpture. Works by the young London-based artist Helen Marten, who has also been nominated for the Turner Prize this year, could equally be described as paintings, prints or installations. Among her seven works on show The Hepworth Wakefield are screen-printed leather canvases decorated with a number of appendages such as cherry stones and cigarettes.
“We have based the selection of the four shortlisted artists on the significance of their contribution to sculpture in its broadest definition,” says Simon Wallis, the director of The Hepworth Wakefield and also the chair of the award’s selection panel.
The other three nominees for the £30,000 prize—Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon, and David Medalla—may make works that are more sculptural than Marten but they are far from traditional.
Barlow, who will represent Britain at next year’s Venice Biennale and was an influential teacher at the Slade School of Fine Art, has used her customary low-cost materials such as plywood, tape, sand and PVA glue to create a huge immersive installation. Claydon is showing work from his recent show at Sadie Coles HQ, including a yellow PVC curtain—commonly used for walk-in fridges—that he has scented with citronella. The Philippine-born Medalla, who is the oldest artist on the shortlist, is exhibiting his signature foam-producing sculptures that he began making in the 1960s.
David Medalla with Cloud Canyons (1964-2016) at The Hepworth Wakefield (Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)
Works by Helen Marten at The Hepworth Wakefield (Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)
Phyllida Barlow’s screestage (2013) at The Hepworth Wakefield (Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)
Steven Claydon with Stochastic Conveyor (Transference) (2016) and Pernicious Membrane (2016) at The Hepworth Wakefield (Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)
The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture is awarded to a British or UK-based artist “who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture,” a press statement says. “There is no shortage of prizes in the art world, however few specifically recognise sculpture,” Wallis adds.
The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced on 17 November. The judges are the director of GAM and Castello di Rivoli museums in Turin, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev; the architect David Chipperfield; the president of the Sharjah Art Foundation Sheikha Hoor al-Qasimi; the patron and collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo; and the art critic Alastair Sooke. Members of the public will also be able to vote for their winner of the People’s Choice Award.
The prize is named after one of the UK’s greatest sculptors, Barbara Hepworth. It was created to help celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Hepworth Wakefield museum, which opened in 2011 and is the UK’s largest purpose-built exhibition space outside of London. The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture is supported by the designer Linda Bennett, TV executive David Liddiment and the art collector David Roberts.