inspiration, travels
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Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth - Spring, 1966


Barbara Hepworth - Spring, 1966

“Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic. For ten years I had passed by with my shopping bags not knowing what lay behind the twenty foot wall…Here was a studio, a yard and garden, where I could work in open air and space.”
from Barbara Hepworth — A Pictorial Autobiography

Back to St Ives & our magical visit to the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden one late-autumn morning. The light was amazing: winter sun low in the sky, filtering through the foliage and burnishing the bronze. The shadows of leaves playing on stone. And then B showed me the shadows the sculptures cast on other elements of themselves.


Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden

Barbara Hepworth - Four Square, 1966

Barbara Hepworth - detail of Four Square, 1966

Hepworth bought Trewyn Studio in 1949 and lived and worked there from 1950 until her death in 1975. The studio leads directly into the garden, which she gradually filled with her work. The parish church & sea are just visible over the garden wall. And, everywhere you look: green & Hepworth’s sculptures. Bamboo, palm trees; a rose, fuchsias, Japanese anemones; a small pond; a summerhouse with a daybed. Tranquil and verdant. It was Halloween and the children ran round the garden playing hide-and-seek with a little witch. There was a grey-black cat stalking around, posing beautifully with the sculptures, looking for strokes.

Barbara Hepworth - Sphere with Inner Form, 1963

Barbara Hepworth - Two Forms (Divided Circle), 1969

“Perhaps what one wants to say is formed in childhood and the rest of one’s life is spent in trying to say it.”
from the catalogue of the Barbara Hepworth Retrospective exhibtion, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1954

The sculptures interact, they are all seen in relation to each another and to the garden. You glimpse one through the window of another; they are never alone. And they made much more sense to me like that — outside, ever-changing, subject to shifting moods and seasons and lights, as we are.

Barbara Hepworth - Torso II (Torcello), 1958

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden

“And so one isn’t an oddity, but just another chap rushing out in overalls to buy some more files at the nearest shop. St Ives has absolutely enraptured me, not merely for its beauty, but the naturalness of life…The sense of community is, I think, a very important factor in an artist’s life.”
from Barbara Hepworth — A Pictorial Autobiography

The greenhouse and, most especially, the stone-carving workshop, feel like she has just stepped out of them. Roughly shaped blocks of marble await her return. Light glows off the white-washed walls, aprons and jackets hang on the door & her tools, with their smooth wooden handles, are ready for work.

Barbara Hepworth greenhouse


Barbara Hepworth greenhouse detail

Barbara Hepworth stone-carving workshop


  1. I loved her garden when I visited about 8 years ago. Everything felt lived, loved — and the scale so human somehow. The sculptures were portals in many ways, with the views through them to trees, sky, eternity. So right. A university teacher of mine (and very dear friend) had a Hepworth in his garden on Vancouver Island and it was beautiful but in some ways out of place. Your photographs make it clear where the ideal place for them is.

    • I had the same feeling about the Hepworth sculptures we’d seen in the Tate earlier in the week — beautiful but out of place. I can’t imagine the joy of owning one though — seeing it in different lights & seasons would be a real joy.

  2. What an amazing place! So far away (for me), but you’ve really piqued my interest and conveyed a sense of being there. =)

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