The inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture exhibition brings together the work of four leading British sculptors: Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon, David Medalla and the 2016 Turner Prize nominee Helen Marten.

Worth £30,000, the prize recognises UK-based artists of any age and career stage who have made ‘a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture’.

The prize is named after renowned sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), many of whose works are on display in the gallery, which houses the largest permanent display of her work in the UK.

“Britain is home to a long line of great sculptors from Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Anthony Caro and beyond. We are living in an exceptionally rich and exciting time for experiencing sculpture in this country and yet there was no significant prize to recognise this art form,” says Simon Wallis, director of The Hepworth Wakefield.

Phyllida Barlow’s monumental sculptures intentionally intrude on the viewer’s space. Constructed from everyday materials, screestage (2013) is a large voluminous piece that dominates the gallery, while wall-based works untitled: blackcoils2016 and untitled: toletsigns2016 invite reflection on urban matter.

Says Barlow: “Maybe I don’t think enough about beauty in my work because I’m so curious about other qualities, abstract qualities of time, weight, balance, rhythm; collapse and fatigue versus the more upright dynamic notions.”

Steven Claydon uses sounds and site-specific intervention to repurpose cultural artefacts, building in contradictions and new layers of meaning. Sound is a form of sculpture for Claydon, who creates works that entice or repel – whether human, animal or object – through their sensory emissions.

Of the six works presented here, there are citronella-scented yellow curtains, squid-attracting blue LED lightbulbs, rubberised magnetic sheets and low-level ambient sound.

Cat motifs feature in Helen Marten’s four screenprints Part Offering (2014). Here prints volley between being 2D object and 3D sculpture as each work is appendaged with materials such as coffee beans, milk cartons or cigarettes.

More minimal is the large-scale white-coated aluminium line drawing White Cotton is so platonic, or something (2014), an overhead tangle of wires, which when viewed from afar depicts a shirt blowing on a line.

Spanning 70 years, David Medalla’s practice ranges from painting to participatory work. Here he presents ‘auto-creative’ sculptures, a medium that he pioneered in the 1960s.

Presenting new versions of two of his seminal works, Cloud Canyons (1964–2016) and Sand Machine, Bahagari (1963–2016) are sculptures that are in a constant state of flux.

Says Medalla: “Art, for me, begins as a simple idea, like a seed that grows into a tree. The idea becomes ‘full grown’, sometimes ‘expanding’ and taking on different manifestations, like trees that become a forest.”

The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture exhibition continues until 19 February 2017. The winner will be announced on 17 November 2016. A people’s choice award, voted for by members of the public, will be announced at the end of the exhibition.

1. Cloud Canyons, 1964-2016 by David Medalla. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
2. Stochastic Conveyor (Transference), 2016, Like Shooting Sparrows in the Dark 3 (deterrent lure), 2016, and Pernicious Membrane, 2016, by Steven Claydon.  Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
3 & 4. screestage, 2013 by Phyllida Barlow. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
5. Steven Claydon with Stochastic Conveyor (Transference), 2016 and Pernicious Membrane, 2016. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
6. Bluebutter Idles, 2014 and Part offering (new and amazingly sexual daughters), 2014, by Helen Marten. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
7. White Cotton is so platonic, or something, 2014; Part offering (doubtless other creatures would have come and gone also, of course, 2014; Part offering (ghost alias), 2014; and Part offering (brother cappuccino), 2014, by Helen Marten. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
8. David Medalla with Cloud Canyons, 1964-2016. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

More on

Neil Beloufa, Monopoly, 2016, installation view, Artes Mundi 7 exhibition

Artes Mundi 7 exhibition: migration, displacement and a fictional megacity


The New Art Gallery Walsall, Photo: Tom Truefitt photography

New Art Gallery Walsall threatened with closure: “A complete and utter disaster for the arts”


Conference delegates. Photography: Lydia CS

engage conference 2016: raising questions about art and activism