Research Point: Barbara Hepworth ‘Sculpture for a Modern World’

On the Tate website there is a video montage of some of the letters that the Hepworth Estate donated to the Tate. It is wonderful! It speaks my language. I totally empathize with the emotions she describes in it: her love of the air, her surroundings, the smells and sounds, and also the deep respect she has of her own work and the effect it has on people. barbara hepworth doves 1927

At the exhibition, I found her early work most appealing to me. The first sculpture upon entering,  Doves, is so full of grace and tenderness. Another, almost camouflaged amongst some other works is sensual and yet respectful: Figure 1933

barbara hepworth figure 1933 (2)I’m afraid my very quick sketches do not remotely barbara hepworth figure 1933begin to do justice (see gallery).

She was not only a mother but she lost a son in the war. To me this gives another dimension to the empty spaces in her sculptures. There seems to be a tension between her abiding love of the human form and nature in general and a struggle of having to come to terms with such a huge loss.

Her physical strength must have been quite impressive. Her shapes are deeply touchy feely. Were it possible, I would like nothing better than to go and sit in one of her sculptures and be enfolded by it. The exhibition filled me with awe and respect for a phenomenal woman; and the organic shapes she created keep popping up in my mind, and in my exercises.