The building itself is seriously beautiful, as well as being beautiful in a serious way, if that makes sense. It's formed from a series of sculptural, angular blocks that sit next to the river, although from some windows inside it feels like you're physically standing on top of the river. It's one of those places that's totally unexpected: a quiet, strong, tranquil sculpture of a building in the middle of Wakefield.
It's by David Chipperfield Architects, and it's shortlisted for this year's RIBA Stirling Prize. I haven't been to the other buildings on the list (although I feel like I've spent my entire summer in Populous' Olympic Stadium) but I'd love the Hepworth to win.
It's a very different space from the Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gallery in St Ives, which used to be her home and studio. This is much more of a gallery-with-white-walls place, which lets you see the work for itself, rather than giving you a feeling about Barbara Hepworth the woman, which you get from her St Ives museum. I definitely think there's a place for both, and I'm thrilled that a female artist has a large, 'serious' gallery (there's that word again) in England dedicated to her work.
It's not all hers though, as Hepworth shares her gallery with other artists from Wakefield's permanent collection and those showing in temporary exhibitions – Richard Long's work was in the Artist Rooms when we were there.
Trying to look round galleries properly with three children in tow is never easy, but the Hepworth had lots of activities to help them 'engage' with the work (although sometimes even noticing the work would be nice...) We spent about half an hour making sculptures from bendy straws. There's even a picture of me (a rare thing indeed) helping Pia with hers.