Clare Woods – ‘The Unquiet Head’ at The Hepworth

Two of the 10.5 metre long paintings from the exhibition Clare Woods ‘The Unquiet Head’

I hadn’t visited The Hepworth Gallery before. It was on the list of things we could have done during the school summer holidays but although we crammed as much into the six weeks as we could,  it was still on the ‘things we could do’ list.

Out of the blue last night I received the invitation from Emma of  Culture Vultures to attend the ‘Press viewing’ for a new exhibition which is due to open in a few days time and then I was to blog about it and I jumped at the chance.

I travelled by bus from Dewsbury and I found the gallery very easy to get to, as the free ‘City Bus’ from Wakefield bus station has a stop near The Hepworth and then it was just a short walk.

The Hepworth Gallery

The new building itself is quite magnificent. I did wonder just how far round the building I would need to go to find the way in,  the door of  which was actually round the back of the building from the main road.

Once inside the exhibition, the rooms are large and high and gave me the impression of being rather sparsely filled with exhibits. I suppose I haven’t visited many galleries so maybe thats usual.  It was quite chilly in the building. Perhaps this is because the exhibits require to be in a cool temperature but perhaps it was because it was a cold day.

As we entered the first room of the Clare Wood’s exhibits, my breath was taken away by the size and power of the large paintings.  Some of the paintings are 10.5 metres long and 6 metre high.  There were ‘easel sized’ paintings in another room, some of which looks like heads and faces and the huge final room, housed some more enourmous paintings. The two smaller of the three (though still huge paintings ) I liked very much. The largest which had the impression of a collage of various rocks, pools etc I personally thought was my least favourite.

This is the artist Clare Woods with one of the ‘middle size’ paintings

Looking at the paintings, I could imagine that I could see  resemblences of areas which looked like the ‘Cow & calf rock’ and other Yorkshire landscapes like Brimham rocks,  and feel Clare  had captured the essence of the rugged Yorkshire landscape.

In the words of the hand out blurb ‘Visually ambiguous, disturbing and claustophobic in their detail, the works transcribe what she sees as magical elements of the landscape such as rock formations, natural pools and twisted vegetation.

Not having an ‘art’ background my impressions are very uneducated but I can only say if I liked them or not and in the main I liked them. The paintings are not as a photographic image, but abstract,  although I believe Clare took over 500 photographs as a starting point to capture the images from which she took her inspiration of the ‘dark and untamable nature’.

I will definitely revisit The Hepworth again soon to see this exhibition, when the lighting has been tweaked to show off these amazing paintings to their best advantage. Also I must revisit to see more of the other exhibitions  as today I was there to see the work of Clare Woods and her ‘The Unquiet Head’ Exhibition.

In the few months The Hepworth has been open more than 270,000 visitors have passed through the doors and it is certainly worth a visit.

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