Conflict and Collisions: New Contemporary Sculpture

Wednesday 1 October 2014 – Sunday 25 January 2015

Conflicts and Collisions Web Crop

This autumn The Hepworth Wakefield presents Conflict and Collisions: New Contemporary Sculpture, an exciting programme of new contemporary art that features three new solo exhibitions and commissions by artists Alexandra Bircken, Folkert de Jong and Toby Ziegler

This will be the first institutional UK solo show for each artist. Coinciding with this year’s WW1 commemorations, each exhibition considers themes of historical and contemporary combat and of man versus machine, with handmade and hand-finished objects opposing mechanical weaponry, state-of-the art digital technologies and 3D printing.


German artist Alexandra Bircken presents a series of recent works that showcase a new approach in her practice, as well as a new site-specific commission for The Hepworth Wakefield. Her exhibition includes B.U.F.F, 2014, comprising four component works (Big, 2014; Ugly, 2014; Fat, 2014; Fellow, 2014 that collectively refer to the American B-52 bombers, used by the United States Air Force from the 1950s, as well as Mercedes gear-sticks and a leather demolition ball. Her new installation features ‘leather skins’ draped on a series of intersecting ladders, which allude to Barbara Hepworth’s iconic ‘stringed sculptures’ that can be found elsewhere in The Hepworth Wakefield.

Essay: Deflated Bodies: A Tale of Material & Skin by Eleanor Clayton, Curator, The Hepworth Wakefield. 

In Alexandra Bircken’s work, to misquote the industrialist Henry Ford, every material tells a story. To be more specific, every material tells a human story. Demolition Ball, for example, is an enlarged punching ball covered in panels of tan leather that differ subtly in both tone and texture. Bircken stripped the leather from old gymnastic apparatus on which over decades during school sports classes... Read the full essay here

Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation & Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany London



Dutch artist Folkert De Jong has drawn on the collections held by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds as a starting point for his new site-specific commission, in particular, the personal armour of Henry VIII and contemporary modern firearms. For the first time De Jong has used 3D scanning technologies in his practice, used to create bronze casts of Henry VIII’s suits of armour, contemporary weapons such as machine and hand guns. The striking installation also features an armada of bronze ships displayed in florescent display cases, as well as casts of a gramophone, an old fashioned camera and telephone.

Essay: Folkert de Jong: The Holy Land by Dr Sam Lackey, Curator, The Hepworth Wakefield.

There is young slim Henry with the downturned expression of a kindly saint. There is fashionable Henry, resplendent with scalloped shells of bronze armour appended to his knees, his feet covered with a fine layer of sand. And there is old Henry, whose precarious balance tips him forward, as if he has been freeze-framed a moment before falling... Read the full essay here.

Supported by The Mondriaan Fund, James Cohan Gallery & The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


British artist Toby Ziegler draws on historic and contemporary representations of war for his new commission, from the WW1 plaster memorial frieze, No Man’s Land, 1919-20 by renowned war memorial artist and Yorkshireman, Charles Sargeant Jagger (1885-1934) to the shocking present-day imagery of ‘war porn’ - trophy images posted online of war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the first time in 20 years, Jagger’s WW1 frieze from Wakefield’s collection will be back on display, supported within a network of aluminium joists. Ziegler’s three-part sculptural composition also features a three-metre high sculpture of a human foot and a 3D printer that will produce a Newell teapot (a test-card design) within the gallery space each day. 

Supported by Simon Lee Gallery

Images left to right:
Folkert de Jong, The Holy Land, 2014. Courtesy and Copyright Studio Folkert de Jong and James Cohan Gallery New York. Photo Aatjan Renders. Alexandra Bircken, Fellow, 2014. Courtesy the artist, BQ, Berlin and Herald St, London. Photo: Roman Maerz, Berlin. Work by Toby Ziegler. Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery. Photo: Peter Mallet