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Conflict and Collisions: New Contemporary Sculpture at The Hepworth Wakefield, 2014. Photo by Guzellian.
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Conflict and Collisions: New Contemporary Sculpture

01 Oct 2014 - 25 Jan 2015

In 2014 The Hepworth Wakefield presented Conflict and Collisions: New Contemporary Sculpture, featuring three new solo exhibitions and commissions by artists Alexandra Bircken, Folkert de Jong and Toby Ziegler.

Coinciding with the centenary First World War commemorations, each exhibition considered themes of historical and contemporary combat and of man versus machine, with handmade and hand-finished objects opposing mechanical weaponry, state-of-the art digital technologies and 3D printing. This was the first institutional UK solo show for each artist.

Alexandra Birckin: Eskalation

German artist Alexandra Bircken presented a series of recent works that showcased a new approach in her practice, as well as a new site-specific commission for The Hepworth Wakefield.

Her exhibition included B.U.F.F. (2014), comprising four component works (Big, 2014; Ugly, 2014; Fat, 2014; Fellow, 2014) that collectively refer to the American B-52 bombers, used by the United States Air Force from the 1950s, as well as Mercedes gear-sticks and a leather demolition ball.

Her new installation featured ‘leather skins’ draped on a series of intersecting ladders, which alluded to Barbara Hepworth’s iconic ‘stringed sculptures’ that are on display at The Hepworth Wakefield.

Exhibition supported by The Henry Moore Foundation & Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany London

‘In Alexandra Bircken’s work, to misquote the industrialist Henry Ford, every material tells a story. To be more specific, every material tells a human story. Demolition Ball, for example, is an enlarged punching ball covered in panels of tan leather that differ subtly in both tone and texture. Bircken stripped the leather from old gymnastic apparatus on which over decades during school sports classes.’

Deflated Bodies: A Tale of Material & Skin  by Eleanor Clayton, Curator, The Hepworth Wakefield

Folkert de Jong: The Holy Land

Dutch artist Folkert De Jong drew on the collections held by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds as a starting point for his new site-specific commission, in particular, the personal armour of Henry VIII and contemporary modern firearms.

For the first time De Jong used 3D scanning technologies in his practice to create bronze casts of Henry VIII’s suits of armour, contemporary weapons such as machine and hand guns.

The striking installation also featured an armada of bronze ships displayed in florescent display cases, as well as casts of a gramophone, an old-fashioned camera and telephone.

Exhibition supported by:
The Mondriaan Fund, James Cohan Gallery & The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

‘There was young slim Henry with the downturned expression of a kindly saint. There was fashionable Henry, resplendent with scalloped shells of bronze armour appended to his knees, his feet covered with a fine layer of sand. And there was old Henry, whose precarious balance tips him forward, as if he has been freeze-framed a moment before falling…’

Folkert de Jong: The Holy Land  by Dr Sam Lackey, Curator, The Hepworth Wakefield

Toby Ziegler / Charles Sargeant Jagger

In the gallery

British artist Toby Ziegler drew on historic and contemporary representations of war for his new commission, from the First World War plaster memorial frieze, No Man’s Land (1919–20) by renowned war memorial artist and Yorkshireman Charles Sargeant Jagger (1885–1934) to the shocking present-day imagery of ‘war porn’ – trophy images posted online of war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the first time in 20 years, Jagger’s First World War frieze from Wakefield’s collection was on display, supported by a network of aluminium joists. Ziegler’s three-part sculptural composition also featured a three-metre high sculpture of a human foot and a 3D printer that produced a Newell teapot (a test-card design) in the gallery space each day.

In The Calder

Expanded Narcissistic Envelope was an installation consisting a group of aluminium sculptures and a series of digital prints, anchored by a painted floor grid, recalling the geometric visualisation of three-dimensional space in computer programming. Each of the sculptures was derived from an original source image taken from the internet, often of a body or body part, which Ziegler reconfigured and resized into a new sculptural object.

This immersive installation continued Ziegler’s interest in processes of translation: from image to sculpture, figuration to abstraction, from the virtual to the physical.

Exhibition supported by Simon Lee Gallery.