Don't Miss: Helen Marten at The Hepworth Wakefield

Make sure to catch the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture exhibition, featuring work by 2016 Turner Prize winner Helen Marten, before it closes in February.

Feature by The Skinny North | 06 Dec 2016

Helen Marten is the name on everyone's lips. Freshly announced winner of the 2016 Turner Prize, the Macclesfield-born artist was also awarded the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture just a few weeks ago in a ceremony that saw her propose to split the £30,000 prize between her fellow shortlisted artists: David Medalla, Phyllida Barlow and Steven Claydon. (She has done the same with the £25,000 Turner Prize.) 

The first winner of the new prize, which was established to mark the fifth anniversary of The Hepworth Wakefield, 31-year-old Marten is "one of the strongest and most singular voices working in British art today," said Simon Wallis, the gallery's director. "Her refined craft and intellectual precision address our relationship to objects and materials in a digital age." 

The work currently on display at The Hepworth consists of seven recent pieces that demonstrate some of the range of Marten's practice, from screenprints painted with cat motifs to the large-scale White Cotton is so platonic, or something, a huge 'line drawing' realised in three-dimensional material that dominates the centre of the room. All the works, however, share in her distinctive technique of incorporating everyday images/objects into intricately crafted installations.

Marten's sensitive and often funny assemblages occupy a room next to David Medalla's transfixing 'bubble machine', Cloud Canyons, which uses an electric engine, water and soap to produce an almost-living, kinetic sculpture that grows and disintegrates as you watch. His practice focuses on place, people and participation, and you can add your own messages or keepsakes to his work A Stitch in Time – stretches of material hung hammock-like from the ceiling embroidered with everything from shopping lists and pocket lint to poems people have written on the spot.

Also featured in the show is a vast, disorienting structure by Barlow that transforms the gallery into a scree slope-like landscape, and Claydon's sense-stimulating work that plays with sound, scent and light.

[Installation view of Phyllida Barlow’s exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield. Photo: Lewis Ronald] 

All four artists are showing new/recent as well as existing work, and the exhibition is the most ambitious yet staged in the Hepworth's five-year history – celebrating that milestone with what is now one of the biggest single art prizes in the UK, as well as the first specifically for contemporary sculpture. Named after Barbara Hepworth, the British sculptor and contemporary of Henry Moore who was born and brought up in Wakefield, the Prize aims 'to demystify contemporary sculpture' and recognises a British or UK-based artist of any age, at any stage in their career, who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture.

The judging panel comprised five international commentators within the field of visual art: Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, director of Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea and GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino; Sir David Chipperfield, architect and designer of The Hepworth Wakefield; Sheikha Hoor al-Qasimi, president of the Sharjah Art Foundation; Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, president of The Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and a collector and patron of the arts; and Alastair Sooke, an art critic and broadcaster. Marten was awarded the Prize on 17 November by the Halifax-born head of Burberry, Christopher Bailey. 

But while the judging panel may already have reached their decision, the gallery is still accepting votes from visitors to discern the public's favourite. Will it be Marten, Medalla, Barlow or Claydon?

To cast your vote, simply pop your filled-out form in the box as you leave the exhibition, or vote online at

The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, The Hepworth Wakefield, until 19 Feb, Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (closed Mondays), free