January 2012

Yes, dubbed 'the lump of cheese' by our nieces and nephew, this supposedly state-of-the-art venue is really poky inside. Built entirely of unvarnished pine, it was as hot as the sauna it resembles; the ground-floor reception's stuffed with promotion for Blackpool attractions; and the only decoration (bar a vase of fake flowers) in the room where Mick's brother got married were 2 flat-screen TVs on the wall, one showing the banns and the other adverts for their funeral services - which they didn't even switch off for the ceremony! Romantic, huh? Especially when we had to ask for the window to be opened so that guests didn't pass out from the suffocating under-floor heating... which meant the service took place

tony wedding venue
tony wedding helmick

Sweating in our suits in a stripped-pine shed - me n' hubcap in Blackpool's Festival Hall

to the accompaniment of a howling gale blowing straight off the Irish Sea and whistling in through the cracks. No doubt it's won a shed-load (and I use the expression advisedly!) of design awards, but it's one of the ugliest, most useless-for-purpose buildings I've ever set foot in... and my poor bro- and sis-in-law had to fork out £250 for the dubious privilege of getting wed there. Its only good points are the location and views, and I suppose it's worth checking out for a laugh if you happen to be on Blackpool promenade... just don't pick it for your wedding venue!

hep3

12th January

Hubcap's on holiday this week, so we decided to treat ourselves to a bit of local culture and visit the Hepworth - the major new art gallery based on the life and work of Wakefield-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth (see right). From the outside it looks pretty grim; an interestingly-shaped building, but made of ghastly pigmented concrete slabs that remind me of a 1970's shopping centre or a decaying Eastern Bloc tenement. (Needless to say, it's won shedloads of awards and plaudits for its 'radical design', 'stark modernism', 'homage to Wakefield's industrial character' blah blah).

But inside it's a different story - nicely lit, with great views over the River Calder, chantry chapel and surrounding old mills, and shiny grey floors like lakes that subtly reflect the artworks. Yup, a real 'Wow' factor for the spaces themselves, never mind the exhibits - which are spectacular, as you can see from the pic below.
 

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Monumental, magnificent Hepworths: I should have put Mick in shot for scale, because 'Winged Form' at the back (prototype for a scupture on the John Lewis building in London) is a monster - 6m tall!

henry garden