Linder, Channer and Jackson Hutchins channel Barbara Hepworth at the Hepworth Wakefield

By Ruth Hazard | 17 February 2013

Exhibition review: Alice Channer, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Linder, The Hepworth, Wakefield, until May 12 2013

a photo of an old sofa, painted and ripped with an abstract sculptural form draped over one corner
Jessica Jackson Hutchins, SAP (2012). Image courtesy the artist / Timothy Taylor Gallery, London / Laurel Gitlen, New York© the artist
Three distinct artists united by a common muse. Granted, it’s pretty standard exhibition fare, but when that muse is Barbara Hepworth - a sculptor, painter, costume designer and collage artist - the result is three intriguingly different collections of work.

Alice Channer’s connection to Hepworth seems immediately obvious; her mixed material sculptures capture the eye with their unusual shapes and ambitious scale. Yet her homage to Hepworth is far more abstract.

Figurative doesn’t necessarily mean human, the artist asserts, instead tracing out reptile vertebrates in resin and chrome. She describes the display as "gently chaotic", moving away from the idea of placing exhibits in neatly assigned spaces.

Sculptures scatter the floor, cascade from the ceiling and merge into the wall. As you step over one piece and peer around another, it can be hard to know where to stop and stand. But it’s a clever idea, leading the viewer to engage with the work, rather than from a predetermined vantage point.

American-born Berlin-based sculptor Jessica Jackson Hutchins has been inspired differently. In this new set of works she explores the imperfections and fragility of the human form, an echo of Hepworth’s writings on the link between human scale and sensibility.

a collage of a ballerina with a bird in the left corner
Linder, No Lady was Ever so Brave (2013). Image courtesy Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London© the artist
Yet it reminds us of how sculpture has evolved in the years since Hepworth. No longer tied to the chisel and plaster cast, Hutchins uses found objects, furniture and industrial ladders to structure her work – an insight into modern sculpture as it exists today.

Linder, meanwhile, has created a collection that bears the traces of a Hepworth infatuation. Looking beyond the boundaries of sculpture, Linder reminds us of the woman behind the legacy.

Her own retrospective, in Paris, has clearly contributed to this more reflective approach. It’s the tiny details – such as Hepworth creating studios in her garden and old ballroom – that are used to lead the display.

Mirroring these two creative spaces favoured by Hepworth, Linder merges images from nature with the delicate forms of ballet dancers from 1950s picture books. Illuminated in the darkness, these fairy-tale-esque collages are as strange as they are beautiful.

A soundtrack of Hepworth’s voice, birds singing in the garden and the chiming of her chisel meeting marble add to a truly atmospheric display, haunted by the spirit of Hepworth.

The gallery hopes this trio of displays will draw new audiences by appealing to both out-and-out Hepworth fans as well as those who have never seen her work.

Throughout each there are flickers of her influence - sometimes overt, sometimes fleeting. But each is a reminder of how strongly Hepworth’s legacy still resonates with both artists, and indeed audiences, even 40 years after her death.

Open 10am-5pm (closed Mondays, except school holiday and bank holiday Mondays). Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @HepworthGallery.

More pictures:

an artwork consiting of a mannequin arm, a photo of Michaelangelo's David and and pice of fabric attached to a board
Alice Channer (2012). Image courtesy of The Approach, London© the artist
a photo of a dustsheet covered in paint over a ladder
Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Berliner Haus (2012). Image courtesy the artist and Timothy Taylor Gallery, London / Laurel Gitlen, New York© the artist
a photograph of three disembodied fingers resting on the edge of a curved piece of metal
Alice Channer, Tectonic Plates (detail) (2012). Image courtesy The Approach, London / Lisa Cooley, New York© the artist
a photo of a woman in a habit with a series of alarm clocks collaged onto it
Linder, Penetrating the Interior (2013). Image courtesy Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London© the artist
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