Tag Archives: St Ives

Around the Barbara Hepworth Garden (2)

Continuing from two days ago, below I am offering a further selection from the Hepworth Garden.  I would stress that these two selections provide only a taster of a very special experience.

Two Forms (Divided Circle)


Torso II (Torcello)

Stone Sculpture (Fugue II)

Square Forms (Two Sequencies)

Hollow Form with Inner Form

See also Around the Barbara Hepworth Garden and The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden


Filed under Abstract photos, Colour, Minimalist, Nature, Pattern, Texture, Uncategorized

Around the Barbara Hepworth Garden

Barbara Hepworth (1903-75) was an internationally renowned sculptor whose finest work was produced in the years between the end of World War II and her death in 1975.

She was a prolific artist whose work can be seen in public places throughout the UK as well as in galleries and museums.  The recently opened Hepworth Museum in Wakefield (2011) houses 44 full size model prototypes in plaster and aluminium, made in preparation for the works in bronze executed from the mid-1950’s to the end of her career.

Works appear in public places and collections across the world, from the US and Canada, through Europe, to China and Japan in the Far East.

Hepworth was an abstract artist who worked in a variety of materials  – wood, stone, bronze and marble.  She produced flowing, rhythmic sculptures that created impressions of objects rather than simple portraits of the objects themselves.  She was drawn to smooth natural shapes rather than angular geometric blocks, although there are exceptions.  She focused a good deal on the impact of light (and changing light) on her work.  The characteristic pierced holes in her sculptures allow the light in and create a certain airiness a solid block would lack.

Three quotations from Hepworth will, I think, help an appreciation of her work:
‘I rarely draw what I see, I draw what I feel’.  This is equally true of the sculptures.

‘Everything I make is to touch.’  This seems to me to be so important with sculpture.  And the joy of the Hepworth Garden is the access to the works  – the opportunity to touch.

‘I like the story to be implicit in the work and you make your own sense of it.’  I feel that the titles are often not helpful in terms of conveying what the sculptor had in mind.  Does that matter?  Sometimes I feel it would help!

Hepworth 1b



Cantate Domino

Hepworth 19.a jpg

Ascending Form (Gloria)

Title Unknown

six forms

Six Forms

See also The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden


Filed under Abstract photos, Minimalist, Nature, Pattern, photography, Texture, Trees, Uncategorized

The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden

( This is a much extended version of a blog first posted in 2011)

Next to the Tate in St Ives is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden.  The museum is housed in the Trewyn Studio where Hepworth lived and worked from 1949 until her tragic death in a fire in 1975.  The museum contains a range of small sculptures unsuitable for outdoor display, and an interesting and valuable collection of archive materials.

The garden was designed by Hepworth with the assistance of her composer friend Priaulx Rainier, an enthusiastic gardener.  Plants, shrubs and trees were chosen for their textural and sculptural qualities.  A gravel path links the exhibits and at the same time affords glimpses of other sculptures through the foliage.

The acquisition of Trewyn Studio was important to Hepworth.  It enabled her to work outdoors and led to the creation of works on a more monumental scale.  Several of the bronzes here benefit from the space available.

Adjacent to the studio are a workshop and summer house which remain largely as Hepworth left them.  Outside are uncarved blocks of stone.

It is not a large garden but the sculptor’s presence is inescapable.  There is a vibrancy that links us through the works: they are tangible and large, not pictures on a page.  There is a feeling of naturalness about the workshop  –  as if the sculptor has just popped out for a cup of tea.  The garden is an oasis of quietude and is respected as such by the many visitors.

Barbara Hepworth was one of the few women artists to achieve international prominence.  Here, in this garden, we can understand why.

The first three photos are selected views of the garden.  The fourth shows the interior of Hepworth’s workshop.

The next two posts will comprise photos of Hepworth’s sculptures in the garden.

See also Around the Barbara Hepworth Garden

Note.  There is a good deal of information on the internet about both the Tate and the Museum.  Two particularly interesting sites for Hepworth are a BBC Monitor programme made with the sculptor in 1961 atwww.bbc.co.uk/archive/sculptors/12804.shtml and a tour of the garden on an educational video www.kids.tate.org.uk/games/barbaras_garden


Filed under Abstract photos, Garden, Imaginings, Minimalist, Nature, Pattern, photography, Texture, Thoughts, Trees, Uncategorized

Art in St Ives

St Ives sky

St Ives is dominated by two natural elements, the sea and the sky –  perhaps especially the sky.  The visitor is immediately aware of the seemingly excessive amount of sky, the vast panoramic skyscapes and the transitory shapes of the scudding clouds.

The quality of light is energizing and stimulates in many a wish to be creative, a need to capture some of this energy and give it expression, particularly in two- or three-dimensional form.

It is this source of creative energy that attracted the potter Bernard Leach and, a little later, the St Ives School of artists (Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth et al) in the first half of the twentieth century.  It continues to act as a magnet for painters, sculptors and ceramicists.

St Ives must boast more small galleries per square mile than any other town or city in the country.  Much of the work is clearly being produced for the commercial market  –  an artist has to live!  –  but a substantial amount is abstract.

Why abstract?  In the best examples the abstract image or form is the natural vehicle through which to express a powerful feeling or impulse.  The abstract work needs no narrative explanation but, through a coherent relationship between its component elements (eg., line, shape, colours, contrast, balance, rhythm, harmony, use of space etc) it encourages the viewer to explore similar feelings within his/her own experience.

But with a surfeit of galleries, it is not surprising to find a high proportion of work of indifferent quality.  In some instances there is evidence of a mismatch between the artist’s aspirations and his/her technical competence.  (One can sympathise  –  we have all had a similar experience at some time).  But sadly there are too many works in which ‘abstract’ has been interpreted as ‘anything goes’  – inferior works which create the illusion of art by using frames of reasonable quality and for which extravagant prices are then asked.

Whilst it is good for everyone to respond to any creative urge, regardless of technical limitations, and is natural to wish to share the outcome with others, there is a responsibility shared by both artists and gallery owners to ensure that the quality of work presented to the public is the best available and that prices asked are appropriate and fair.  Not all galleries currently fulfil these last two criteria.

See also Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden

1 Comment

Filed under Opinions, Thoughts, Uncategorized