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Diary of a Cultural Gardener - August 2019

Our monthly diary to see what August has had in store for our Cultural Gardener, Katy Merrington.

The first phase of the garden is now open! Whilst the entire project isn’t quite complete just yet, it was very rewarding to be able to take down the fencing and finally let visitors walk through our Tom Stuart-Smith-designed garden.

One of the most exciting moments in August was the installation of the four sculptures that now stand within the garden. All of the works were craned into place by specialist art transport company MTEC.

Barbara Hepworth once said ‘I prefer my work to be shown outside. I think sculpture grows in the open light and with the movement of the sun its aspect is always changing’ so we are delighted to be able to give one of her works from Wakefield’s collection a lovely new setting in the garden.

MTEC installing Rebecca Warren's 'The Three' in The Hepworth Wakefield Garden

Artist Sir Michael Craig-Martin has generously loaned his sculpture Pitchfork (Yellow), a 11ft yellow pitchfork which stands tall amongst the trees and has already been a huge talking point amongst visitors. We are also showing The Three by British artist Rebecca Warren who personally selected her sculpture for our garden. When the sun hits the sculpture, a subtle icing-like palette of blues and pinks glimmer on its surface. Also on display is Lynn Chadwick’s Dancing Figures loaned to us by the artist’s estate, which complements a smaller work currently on display in Gallery 2.

Once the artworks were placed, we introduced deciduous grasses around the sculpture bases which will provide movement and contrast, animating the area surrounding the plinths.

As August has passed by, it has been lovely seeing the plants settling in and adapting to their new environment. The beautiful shrub Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac) has an amazing autumn colour and is absolutely thriving here in Wakefield as they have already flowered and have started to grow. The herbaceous plants have really benefited from the perfect mix of sunshine and showers that we’ve had throughout the month with some of the plants, particularly the Salvia ‘Amethyst’, already knitting together, which is remarkable at this early stage.

At the present, I’m working with a small team of Garden Volunteers who are helping with the initial maintenance and establishment of the garden. The dreaded weeds are starting to find the light, so me and my team are working hard to make sure they are gone before you visit.

But, best of all, it has been wonderful seeing the garden in use. Over our Summer Fair weekend, we welcomed over 7,000 people! After all the team’s hard work and efforts, it was very heart-warming to see the garden bursting with activity from families exploring to visitors having picnics on the grass and others relaxing whilst reading a book in the sunshine.

If you enjoy coming along to our fairs, you might be pleased to hear that we’re running a new event inspired by our garden. On the 28 September, we’ll be hosting The Hepworth Wakefield Wellness Fair. As gardens and green spaces have many proven benefits for our mental health and wellbeing, this event allows us to demonstrate the importance of looking after our own health and wellbeing.

Across the day, I’ll be around leading free tours of the garden – so do book on one if you get the chance. You can find more information on this event here – I hope to see you there!