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Emii Alrai, 'A Core of Scar'

Acquisition for The Hepworth Wakefield
£7,000 awarded

A work by Emii Alrai comprising a panel of landscape with three mounted glass vessels, alongside her research material in creating the commission, was successfully acquired by The Hepworth Wakefield in March 2023.

 

A large plaster sculpture affixed to a blue wall. Three metal arms protrude from the sculpture, each supporting a single clear glass vessel.

About the work

A Core of Scar preserves the legacy of a partnership project between The Hepworth Wakefield and Invia, who together commissioned artist Emii Alrai to create a work inspired by her own Iraqi heritage and Wakefield’s art collection.

The completed commission comprised a full-gallery installation, which was on display at The Hepworth Wakefield from 7 April to 4 September 2022.

Following the exhibition, a section of the work was offered for acquisition into Wakefield’s permanent art collection. It picks up on dominant narratives of British modern sculpture in the collection, such as the relationship of sculpture to body and landscape, found in the work of both Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

Alrai’s work expands these references to include the diasporic experience, how landscapes and identities can shift and move yet retain markers of the past, expressed through material remnants and embodied experience.

A large plaster sculpture affixed to a blue wall. Three metal arms protrude from the sculpture, each supporting a single clear glass vessel.
Emii Alrai, 'A Core of Scar' 2022. Courtesy The Hepworth Wakefield.
Wide shot of a gallery with blue walls. Close to is a simple geometric sculpture carved from stone, displayed on a plinth. Further back, mounted on the wall, is a large plaster sculpture. It has three metal arms protruding from it, each holding a single clear glass vessel.
Emii Alrai, 'A Core of Scar' 2022. Courtesy The Hepworth Wakefield.

How the project benefitted the public

The public has been able to experience A Core of Scar in The Hepworth Wakefield’s year-long exhibition, Magic in this Country: Hepworth, Moore & the Land (20 January 2023 – January 2024).

The exhibition explores how the landscape was of deep importance to both Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, and how a connection to the land has inspired generations of artists, including contemporary artists such as Emii Alrai.

The acquisition and immediate display of this work was an important statement about The Hepworth Wakefield’s commitment to supporting local artists and in collecting works by artist with diverse backgrounds and heritage. Over 50,000 people have seen Alrai’s work since it went back on display in January 2023.

In seeing a young female artist of Iraqi heritage represented in the collection, The Hepworth Wakefield has demonstrated that their gallery and collection are there for the widest possible audience to benefit from.

Video courtesy The Hepworth Wakefield.