The Artist’s Studio: Barbara Hepworth

hepworth-1Before we left Cornwall last weekend there was one last person and place we wanted to visit, Barbara Hepworth in her studio.

She lived the second half of her life here in Cornwall.

She lived the second half of her life here in Cornwall.

And to give you a sense of her and her place, this will matter later, here is how it describes itself:

“The Cornwall studio where Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) found space to work, and explored bronze for the first time.

Barbara Hepworth married Ben Nicholson in 1938, and when the war came they evacuated with their young family to Cornwall. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is based in the studio Hepworth established in 1949, in search of more space to work on her sculptures. After the war, and her divorce from Nicholson in 1951, Hepworth became an active figure in the developing St Ives modernist art community, and she was awarded the Freedom of St Ives in 1968 to acknowledge her contribution to the town. Trewyn Studio remained her studio until her death in 1975. Here she explored the potential of bronze for the first time, as well as continuing her work with stone and wood carving. ‘Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic,’ Hepworth wrote, ‘Here was a studio, a yard and a garden where I could work in open air and space.’

The studio was established as the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden the year after Hepworth’s death in 1975, and has been managed by Tate since 1980. Today, visitors to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden can see some of Hepworth’s most monumental sculptures in the environment for which they were created.”

So here we are.

So here we are.

In one of the rooms where she worked.

In one of the rooms where she worked.

In the house where she lived.

In the house where she lived.

Until she died in 1975.

Until she died in 1975.

But as you’ll see the house has been so carefully and respectfully turned into a museum that you really do feel as if you’re visiting the real artist’s studio, because we are.

Let’s have a look around.hepworth-11 hepworth-7 hepworth-8 hepworth-9 hepworth-10I’m not going to name all the sculptures, except for one we’ll take a particularly careful look at later. Nor am I going to tell you any more of the story of her life. We’re here experiencing the place.

Like this little summer house in the garden.

Like this little summer house in the garden.

For the occasional daytime naps.

For the occasional daytime naps.

hepworth-14 hepworth-15 hepworth-16

All of the work begs to be touched.

All of the work begs to be touched.

hepworth-28 hepworth-29hepworth-18 hepworth-19 hepworth-20 hepworth-21 hepworth-22 hepworth-23 hepworth-24 hepworth-25 hepworth-26 hepworth-27hepworth-30 hepworth-31 hepworth-32 hepworth-33 hepworth-34 hepworth-35 hepworth-36Now a particular highlight. Another place where she worked and all of her stuff. We’ve both been here before a couple of times but feel like we must have rushed the other visits. This time we know we’ll be here for hours. Visiting the artist at work.hepworth-37

Her rocks.

Her rocks.

Her clothes.

Her clothes.

Her mallets.

Her mallets.

Her place.

Her place.

What she was working on.

What she was working on.

Her tools.

Her tools.

hepworth-44 hepworth-45

Her garden tools.

Her garden tools.

hepworth-47

The stuff of a working artist.

The stuff of a working artist.

Like she might be back any minute to carry on working.

Like she might be back any minute to carry on working.

hepworth-50At this point we begin to notice a large group of art students arriving and beginning to sketch the sculptures.hepworth-51 hepworth-52 hepworth-53 hepworth-54 hepworth-55 hepworth-56

Their teachers moving around quietly encouraging them all.

Their teachers moving around quietly encouraging them all.

hepworth-58And one of the teachers says:

“Don’t just draw the sculptures, try to bring in what’s around them, so we know where we are. Try to give your work a sense of place.”

Naturally I consider these to be very wise words and decide to follow them in my own way, with my camera. We’ll take another brief walk round the garden and then meditate, in a sketching sort of way, on one particular sculpture.hepworth-59 hepworth-60 hepworth-61 hepworth-62 hepworth-63 hepworth-64 hepworth-65Now the particular sculpture I want to study carefully. Here is ‘Corymb.’ Done in 1959 and one of the smaller sculptures out here in the garden.hepworth-66 hepworth-67 hepworth-68 hepworth-69 hepworth-70 hepworth-71 hepworth-72 hepworth-73 hepworth-74 hepworth-75 hepworth-76 hepworth-77 hepworth-78 hepworth-79There we are then. From all of its angles.

We don't really want to leave.

We don’t really want to leave.

We've enjoyed our week here.

We’ve enjoyed our week here.

But know it will be a long time, if ever, before we're back in St Ives again.

But know it will be a long time, if ever, before we’re back in St Ives again.

So we sit for just a little longer.

So we sit for just a little longer.

hepworth-85

Until it's eventually time for us to go.

Until it’s eventually time for us to go.

Back through the house.

Back through the house.

hepworth-87

Through the artist's studio.

Through the artist’s studio.

Goodbye Barbara, thanks for letting us look around.

Goodbye Barbara, thanks for letting us look around.

7 thoughts on “The Artist’s Studio: Barbara Hepworth

  1. JANET JOHNSTONE

    There is an amazing BBC programme on catch-up TV made in the 60’s on Hepthworrh Can’t remember what series Horizon possibly Janet x

    Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

    Reply
  2. memoirsofahusk

    Thanks for taking me back. A place I too have spent many hours absorbing.
    There are some things (turquoise) some places (Haworth, Yorkshire moors; the Trough of Bowland) and some people who give me a strange feeling, as if I have some special connection – Barbara Hepworth is one of those people. Your pictures transported me, gave me that feeling. As well as the beautiful forms of her abstracts, I love the little wooden sculpture, ‘Infant’, of her son from 1929 (I looked it up, my memory’s not that good!) and the statue of the virgin Mary in St Ives church that she made to commemorate his death.
    Sorry, won’t go on much longer, but have you been to the Hepworth at Wakefield? Very different, but magical in its own way. Drawers of little bits of inspiration, massive sculptures, beautiful windows framing interesting views – and of course a decent caff!
    Thanks again Ronnie, you’ve set the tone for a good day I hope. Well worth waiting for 😉

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Mary. I didn’t want to rush this one. Just like we didn’t rush the visit.

      And no I haven’t been to Wakefield since they opened the Hepworth there. Though I did go to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at Bretton Hall a couple of times. Sarah did her Fine Art degree there when it was part of Leeds University. But we clearly need to go back now.

      Have a good day, at peace x

      Reply

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