The Calder is The Hepworth Wakefield’s new contemporary art space which opened to the public on Friday 30 August, 2013.
Celebrating the heritage of the waterfront site, The Calder presents a great opportunity to attract even more visitors to this conservation area, providing a rich cultural context in which to see art, engage with artists and to explore the waterfront.
The development of Wakefield over the centuries has been mostly due to its location on the banks of the river Calder and the ease of navigation from east to west. Across much of its length, the Calder is canalised and becomes the Calder and Hebble Navigation, forming part of the Aire and Calder Navigation, before it merges into the River Aire and joins the River Humber and the North Sea.
The river was vital to the success of the textile industries in the local area and many major mills were constructed along its banks, particularly at Halifax, Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Wakefield. By the 19th century the area now known as Wakefield Waterfront was a thriving industrial area with around 35 mills established on this site as well as the boatyard which in still in operation today. Over the years the mills have had a variety of uses including corn merchants, textiles, wool processing and spinning.
The development of The Calder is a capital project is funded by Wakefield Council, who own the building and are the principal proprietor of the waterfront site adjacent to The Hepworth Wakefield. The development of the new exhibition space at The Hepworth Wakefield forms part of the Council’s Wakefield Waterfront regeneration plans. The on-going exhibition and events programme is funded through Wakefield Council, Arts Council England and Arts Council England Catalyst Arts programme.
Internationally acclaimed British artist, Roger Horns, exhibited his entire body of Youth works for the first time as the inaugural exhibition at The Calder which ran from the 30 August – 3 November, 2013. The exhibition comprised found objects, which included street benches, jet and car engines and stainless steel preparation tables - all 'activated' through the presence of a naked youth, a small fire and a simple sequence of actions. Visitors to The Calder were able to observe these live activations at timed intervals throughout the day.
In early-2014, Erika Vogt (b. 1974, New Jersey, USA) presented Speech Mesh – Drawn OFF, a site specific commission for The Calder. Speech Mesh - Drawn OFF comprised a group of cast sculptures arranged in dialogue with a series of new videos and was the first solo exhibition in the UK by the American artist.
In spring 2014 The Calder was transformed by experimental sound and sculpture installation, Haggard Caravan. Produced over then days in The Calder, the installation was made in direct response to the site's architecture, riverside setting and the histories embedded in the reclaimed building.
Summer 2014 saw The Calder present the first reinvention of Allan Kaprow's iconic environment YARD in the UK, featuring a series of interventions by Koo Jeong-A, Nicola Conibere, Janine Harrington, Rie Nakajima, Rivane Neuenschwander, Robbie Synge and David Toop.