Art’s urbane guerillas hit Wakefield: the Hepworth Museum

Brian Lewis, Pontefract’s poet laureate and a painter to boot, bravely exposed the neglect of

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artists when the visiting functionaries of State Art arrived for the opening of the src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> 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 google_ad_width = 970; 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 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

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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

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workshops, a rolling exhibition programme, and were also offering writing, publishing events and a UK premiere of a piece of music composed by the Professor of Creative Technology at Leeds Met University based on an ex-miner’s poem. In Castleford we were called the Free University of Castleford on Aire. The new name,

it concerned the need to watch the promotional data supplied by their consultants, the questioning of why we should be promoting a ‘mausoleum artist’ and the proposed programme of retrospectives by what are inevitably described as ‘eminent international artists’. I considered that even when the running of the gallery was passed onto the Hepworth Trust it would still have a call on the public purse through Arts Council England

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or through English Heritage. I forecast that the google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; wider agenda of regenerating a derelict area might have a bearing on the level of financial commitment by the council.

In

one of my sons carrying tea in a paper cup. He google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; is a man who could be relied upon to argue forcibly if needed. Porl, a professional photographer, came a little later. The witnesses
and two cameras could be useful.

I knew an emissary would come from the council and at 11 am, just after they had started the

initial party for ‘100 very special guests’, he rolled up. Wakefield’s Deputy Chief /* 9-970x90 */ Executive was someone I’d known src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> for years and liked. He made the obvious point that I had a right to protest, to which google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; 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

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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 give the leaflet out today, even though the main arts gathering is

had avoided putting up a price list I wasn’t

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trading. They exercised their right of discretion and the right of demonstrating seemed to overrule everything.  Then the last-but-one visitor came. He was ‘a Hepworth’, the only member of the family to bear the name. He was followed by torrential downpour so we turned the pictures to the wall and five of us retreated under a convenient medieval bridge extension and talked about his google_ad_height = 90; cousin Barbara and why our demonstration was called ‘Good morning Mr

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Courbet’. His views about her work were close to mine. When we emerged from under the bridge we saw a wet cyclist on a lightweight bike. I was about to meet for the first time the

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publisher of a scurrilous journal.

Was the tiring day on the bridge worth the effort? And what had we learnt?

1. Paintings need to be small enough to fit into bin liners and have robust frames. It is best to have a number of solid frames in three sizes. Uniformity makes the exhibition look more professional.

2. John, our market frame-maker, showed that by using handwrap (a sort of clear film) on a handle you protect the frames, have something to attach titles to, but more important you could attach painting and display boards to bollards and railings.

3. You need someone close at hand with a car big

enough to carry away the paintings.

4. Make sure that

some google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; of your pictures are explicit and targeted. If you’re hitting out at someone, have a hand-out which explains what you’re doing. The quality