Celebrating with Barbara and Don

You may well be wondering who Barbara and Don are. Although they may sound like my great aunt and uncle, neither are personally known to me.

The former is the Yorkshire-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The latter Don Draper, a fictional character from the American TV series Mad Men.

Both were part of the celebrations for my birthday which fell over half term. The birthday outing was a toss up between the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield (my birth town which now forms the Yorkshire Sculpture triangle along with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery).

As the weather has been a bit mixed over half term with intermittent days of snow and rain we opted for The Hepworth Gallery, which celebrates its 5th anniversary this year.

The gallery is named after Barbara Hepworth, who was born and educated in Wakefield, and whose work is displayed here.

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The Hepworth also hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and photography. The current exhibition is The Rhubarb Triangle & Other Stories: Photographs by Martin Parr. His photos of the Rhubarb business (as in the forced rhubarb that Wakefield is world famous for) show a detailed account of the process of how this fruit is grown through to its harvesting and its subsequent popularity for coach party visits.

The boys were quite captivated by some of the photos especially one wall of kitsch photos from around the world – nothing to do with rhubarb by the way.

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The award-winning Hepworth Gallery building is situated within the Wakefield Waterfront conservation area, which protects several buildings that were once the town’s cloth and grain industries.

It sits on the headland of the River Calder whose rushing water you can see cascading beneath it from the vast glass windows.

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After having our fill of food and culture in the cafe and galleries we headed off to Heath Common for a walk and some fresh air – after all there is a limit as to how long you can push it with kids and galleries.

Heath, a conservation area, is a village built around a common on the way from Wakefield to Castleford. It’s a wide open space surrounded by attractive buildings dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th century.

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We met some charming furry friends on the common.

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We soon realised why we were so popular with one little pony when a couple pulled up with a bag of carrots and cabbage peelings. We will have to come better equipped next time if we want to keep on such good terms!

Once back home to a warm house, fire lit, candles glowing, champagne cork popped, it was time for the grand finale. Mr B and I are big fans of Mad Men. I was given the first series by a friend four years ago and we have followed the series through to the end, finally watching the last episode on February 18th 2016.

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Mad Men depicts a world of sleek-suited, chain-smoking, hard drinking advertising executives. But this is an age where women are also starting to forge careers in the professions and inhabiting this male-dominated world are a trio of strong female characters.

The fashions and decor of the 1950s, 60s and 70s create a hugely visual appeal.

We have lived with the characters through their various trials and tribulations over this four-year period, and enjoyed every minute of our screen time with these lovable yet frequently flawed folk.

With kids it’s not always easy to squeeze a film in during the evening especially as they get older and are harder to shoo off to bed. But I find there’s often time to get lost in a world of box sets where each episode lasts around 50 minutes.

Man Men is a stylish, witty and enjoyable drama. If you haven’t seen it grab yourself a box set and take yourself off into the world of 1960s advertising along New York’s Madison Avenue – I can guarantee several hours of enjoyment but probably not the four years it’s taken us to watch it.

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