The Aesthetica Art Prize 2016 Countdown: Interview with Dr Sam Lackey, Curator at The Hepworth Wakefield

Dr Sam Lackey worked as a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Studies in Surrealism and its Legacies before moving into curating, firstly at the Whitworth Art Gallery on the exhibition Subversive Spaces: Surrealism and Contemporary Art and then at The Hepworth Wakefield in 2010 as part of the team that opened the gallery in 2011. She works across all aspects of the collections and exhibitions programme, and is currently researching plasters and prototypes from traditional casting to contemporary artists’ use of the material. She has published on surrealist film, theories of attention in film and the role of the body in moving image work.

A: Your original specialism was in surrealist film. What drew you into this field of study?
SL: My interest came out of a preoccupation with surrealism – as a first year student I had to give a presentation on the extraordinary collage novels of Max Ernst and found myself dreaming about them. Before that point I had always imagined myself as a Renaissance researcher.

A: What are you currently working on as curator at The Hepworth Wakefield?
I’m currently working on an exhibition of the sculpture and prints of an amazing artist, Gertrude Hermes, who was a contemporary of Barbara Hepworth. She’s really well-known for her engravings but her sculptures are exquisite – carved animals and figures.

A: You have also researched the role of the body in moving image work. Where did this research take you?
SL: I was really interested in the relationship between film and dance – this came out of research of the significance of movement as a subject for film as well as a constituent of its medium specificity.

A: What are the upcoming highlights we can expect from The Hepworth Wakefield?
Upcoming highlights include the Hermes show of course, a show of new work by Enrico David and we’re also collaborating with YSP and the Henry Moore Institute on a conference on the work of Anthony Caro, to investigate some of the ideas raised in our current exhibitions.

A: What advice would you give to emerging artists looking to exhibit their work?
Always tricky but start with a DIY attitude. Try to set things up yourself, especially at times when you know that established institutions and organisations will also be showing great work. The British Art Show in Leeds this Autumn is a perfect opportunity for this kind of thing.

Entries are open until 31 August 2015. Register your artwork at

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1. Flavio Senoner, Sonny Moved White Oblongs, 2014. Longlisted in the Aesthetica Art Prize 2015. Courtesy of the artist.