Art’s urbane guerillas hit Wakefield: the Hepworth Museum

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Brian Lewis, Pontefract’s poet laureate and a painter to boot, bravely exposed the neglect of local artists when the visiting functionaries of State Art arrived for the opening of the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield

In the cultural war which challenges the dominance of the London art world we are the first shock troops of a new guerilla army which urges artists to get out onto the streets and protest by using art to confront art.

What follows is an account of what happened when we attacked the Hepworth in Wakefield using a 6,000-word didactic leaflet, 21 paintings and a small piece of sculpture called Don’t Have Any More Mrs Moore. We called our guerrilla attack Operation Good Morning Mr Courbet.

We had been led to believe that Prince
Charles was coming to open David Chipperfield’s £35 million gallery
in Wakefield and that for security reasons the police were likely to clear the nearby Chantry Bridge prior to
his arrival. Arguing that they would find it more difficult to evacuate us if our two advertisement google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; boards and framed pieces were already in position,
we tied 8ft x 3ft horizontal boards to //--> roadside railings and bollards. Both faced the Hepworth’s entrance and read ‘Alternative Exhibition – Free University of Chantry Bridge, Wakefield’.

The Free University reference was understood in parts of the district. We

had recently held an exhibition six miles away in the Heritage gallery in the ex-mining town of Castleford. At its Bridge Arts Gallery we had workshops, a rolling exhibition programme, and were also offering writing, publishing events and a UK

a right to protest, to which I replied ‘You’re right there’. Then he said: ‘Peter says that are you aware that the Hepworth family are gathering this lunch time and today is the anniversary of her death.’

There they had me. Sentiment took hold.  As soon as he said it I knew that I was not going to upset a family gathering, any family gathering, by speaking ill of granny.

I thought quickly. ‘I will not google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; give the leaflet out today, even though the main arts gathering is on tonight, but

agreed that since I had avoided putting up a price list I wasn’t trading. They exercised their right of discretion and the

right of demonstrating seemed to
overrule everything.  Then the last-but-one visitor