The Hepworth set to exhibit students' designs to transform derelict mill
The exhibition entitled Upper Mills: Re-imagined, sponsored by the Leeds Sustainability Institute, will launch at an invite-only event on the evening of Tuesday 8 October and remain open to the public until 12 October.
Curated by final year Leeds Met BA (Hons) Interior Architecture & Design students, Amy Ackerley, Rebecca Allsop and Marija Laurinaityte, the collection presents a range of their own and fellow undergraduates' ideas for sustainable conservation, restoration, adaptation and remodelling of the Grade II listed Upper Mills.
The historical significance of the former 18th century watermill- which sits only metres away from the national art gallery - has protected it from demolition, but without funding and a sustainable new purpose its future remains uncertain.
Working closely with the educational and curatorial teams at The Hepworth Wakefield, students undertook a comprehensive and holistic approach to the adaption. They had to consider the environmental, social, economic and historical benefits of remodelling the existing mill, highlighting and identifying real possibilities for the re-use of it to further compliment the existing facilities at The Hepworth.
Amy commented: "There is a wide range of ideas that students have come up with for Upper Mills. My own design proposal was to turn the mill into a musical performance space and interactive exhibition, based on the fact that Wakefield artist Barbara Hepworth - who the gallery was named after -was a classical piano player.
"The Hepworth wanted us to come up with fresh and new ideas that would not just replicate the current provision at the gallery but compliment it.
"For the exhibition itself we wanted to take inspiration from elements of the existing mill and the installation that presently surrounds it. Upper Mills is currently covered in scaffolding and fabric, so we came up with the idea that each of the student designs that are to be exhibited should be printed on a similar fabric and hung from scaffolding."
Senior Lecturer, Peter Dixon said that other student design ideas set to be exhibited ranged from an art house style café to an Art Archive Centre for Wakefield's vast art collection to the site being used as the headquarters for the Labour Party in Wakefield, another key interest of the late Barbara Hepworth.
He commented: "It is a wonderful achievement for our students to be exhibiting their architectural proposals and designs at such a prestigious national gallery. The experience they have had of working with The Hepworth Wakefield's educational and curatorial team and making the most of their opportunity to contribute to such an important exhibition is second to none.
"The long-term goal of this project is to raise the profile and plight of the former mill, by highlighting and identifying the potential adaption and conservation of the existing building.
"The best thing about this exhibition and the project overall is that the students have come up with some exceptional ideas that could be taken on by real-life investors, benefitting both The Hepworth Wakefield and the city of Wakefield.
The designs set to be exhibited aren't just throw-away proposals, they have all been thoroughly evaluated by students who have spent many months making multiple site visits, researching and investigating Upper Mills, to ensure that their design idea could stand up in reality."