Where to Go to Experience Yorkshire’s Incredible Art Scene

KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park | © Robin Parker / Flickr
Photo of Emma Lavelle
29 June 2018

You don’t have to visit London to discover a thriving art scene. All across Yorkshire, you can find vast sculpture parks, contemporary galleries and local exhibitions, focusing on both local and international artists. Here are the best places to admire art – both traditional and contemporary – in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Art Gallery, Park
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Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park | © Tim Parkinson / Flickr
There’s nowhere else quite like Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a sprawling contemporary art gallery spread across fields, woodland and by the side of a river, just outside Wakefield. There are over 60 sculptures to discover – most permanent but some visiting artworks – located on 500 acres, allowing visitors to combine a countryside walk with a cultural experience. Works include sculptures by some of the world’s best contemporary artists, including Andy Goldsworthy and Antony Gormley.

The Hepworth Wakefield

Art Gallery, Museum
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Hepworth Wakefield Yorkshire
The Hepworth Wakefield in West Yorkshire was built as a tribute to the artist Barbara Hepworth | © PennPix/Matt Pennington/StockimoNews/Alamy Live News

The country’s largest purpose-built gallery in nearly 50 years, The Hepworth is one of the most impressive contemporary art galleries in Europe, famed for its architecture as much as its artworks. Named after Wakefield sculptor Barbara Hepworth, the gallery showcases an extensive collection of her work alongside changing exhibitions by other artists. The gallery predominantly focuses on contemporary and modernist work, complementing Hepworth’s iconic style.

Henry Moore Institute

Art Gallery
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Henry Moore Institute
Henry Moore Institute | © Mtaylor848 / WikiCommons
Completing the Leeds Sculpture Triangle (with YSP, The Hepworth and Leeds Art Gallery), the Henry Moore Institute focuses on the famed works of Yorkshire-local Moore, with plenty of other sculptures to discover, including both ancient and modern works. There’s also a reference library, archive and a lecture theatre often showcasing workshops and talks, making this a perfect destination for anyone with a keen interest in sculpture.

Leeds Art Gallery

Art Gallery, Museum
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Leeds Art Gallery
Leeds Art Gallery | © Rept0n1x / WikiCommons
Leeds Art Gallery recently underwent extensive refurbishment, creating a new gallery space that flaunts the original Victorian glass roof. The gallery contains a staggering array of contemporary artwork from local names such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth to some of the biggest artists of the past century. If you’re interested in art and visiting Yorkshire, this should be your first stop.

Salts Mill

Art Gallery
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Salt's Mill, Saltaire
Salts Mill, Saltaire | © Markj 87 / WikiCommons

It may sound strange, but the most extensive permanent collection of David Hockney’s work can be found in an old mill located in a small town near Bradford. Salts Mill is the heart of the village of Saltaire (the village was built to house the workers of the original mill), and it has been transformed into an intriguing space that hosts everything from antiques shops to a specialist bookstore, several restaurants and three large art galleries. The 1853 Gallery displays the permanent collection of Hockney’s work, showing some of his most iconic pieces alongside little-known sketches. On the third floor, you’ll find The Arrival of Spring, a showcase of original works drawn by Hockney on his iPad in 2011.

The Tetley

Art Gallery, Building
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The Tetley | © EG Focus / Flickr
Based in an old brewery, The Tetley combines contemporary art with learning facilities to provide a space for creativity and innovation in the heart of Leeds. Curated by Project Space Leeds, the building hosts exhibitions, residencies and a variety of events based around changing people’s perceptions of art. Expect to discover the next big thing, as they tend to focus on up-and-coming local artists.

The Gallery@ The Civic

Art Gallery
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The Gallery@ The Civic is part of Barnsley’s most innovative art spaces, boasting three exhibition areas that are used to display touring exhibits from big-name artists as well as one-off shows by local creatives. The main gallery, staircase gallery and panorama gallery all provide unique spaces for contemporary art.