Having been to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives and The Hepworth Wakefield, I have to admit I was disappointed with the Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World exhibition at Tate Britain. The first room contains lots of the artist’s smaller sculptures in glass boxes – I think this is to stop visitors touching them (?); Hepworth’s smooth stone shapes are very tactile and so you do want to give them a stroke – but this doesn’t feel like sculpture for a modern world, it feels like sculpture for a staid, old museum. A garden in St. Ives is the perfect setting – and what’s so wonderful about the Hepworth Wakefield is that this beautiful modern gallery gives the sculptures the space they deserve. Only the last room at the Tate, a recreation of a pavilion in the Netherlands (where Hepworth had a retrospective in 1965), and the penultimate room with the beautiful Guarea wood sculptures capture more of the progressive, outdoors-y feel that is more in keeping with how Barbara Hepworth worked:
There is a wonderful BFI video Figures in a Landscape (you can watch it HERE) that shows Hepworth at work in her studio in St.Ives in 1953, what is amazing is that she did all this while bringing up triplets…
Think I could work the artist’s smock and the silk scarf into my wardrobe…
On Barbara Hepworth, Howell says:
‘Barbara Hepworth is one of a few special people who have inspired me – through her work, her life, and her style. She was a woman to roll up her sleeves, and a woman who needed pockets – for chisel, pencil, and pebbles from the beach.
I connect with her independence, strength and hands-on approach as an artist, but also with her choice of work clothes and the way she wore them.
These pieces were designed to celebrate her spirit and I like to think she would have been happy to wear them.’
Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World is on until 25 October 2015