One of things I failed to do when I visited St Ives last year was to have a look around the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. This is located in the heart of the town, and is where Hepworth both lived and worked from 1949 until her death.
It is well worth a visit if you are down that way, it is interesting to see the environment in which Hepworth created her work. The studio spaces in the out-buildings are endearingly almost ramshackle, the garden is beautifully, but not overly, designed, and there is a fantastic view of Porthminster Beach.
The garden was very busy but, despite visitors frequently (and inadvertently I add) blocking my view, I did manage to complete the following sketches of details from two of the sculptures:
I could have stayed to sketch longer but I sensed that my sketching powers had already peaked. My arm was also aching from clutching my sketchbook, pencils, sharpener and eraser whilst I stood up to do the second sketch. It was nice to be able to sketch from sculptures as this is something that I do not do as often as I should. It was particularly interesting trying to recreate the lines and forms that another artist has created.
The organic shapes of many of the sculptures were what I consider to be ubiquitous with Hepworth:
The strong geometric shapes of this piece in the setting of a lean-to style garden room worked well. The shapes of the sculpture complimenting the tiled floor, and creating an interesting juxtaposition with the surrounding foliage:
Hepworth’s sculptures all have a very physical presence but I was surprised by the lightness of touch of these pieces:
I particularly loved the way in which the sculpture on the right echoed the shapes of the surrounding plants and almost became camouflaged despite its clear contrast in size and colour.
I also discovered, whilst inadvertently standing in the exact spot, how and where Hepworth died. In order to access the garden you have to walk through the house which forms the main interior of the museum. On the first floor that leads through to the garden you find yourself in what was originally Hepworth’s studio, and latterly her bedroom.
Hepworth died in her bedroom. She was smoking a cigarette in her bed when it caught fire. As the museum guide informed us of this she pointed to the wooden floor exactly where I was stood. There were still some scorch marks on the floor clearly showing the outline of where the bed would have stood.
I did not photograph these scorch marks. I considered it but the guide was still there, other people had gathered near us to hear what was being said, and I considered it to be a bit disrespectful.
I also managed to take some close-up shots of the surface of some of the sculptures whilst I was there. I will share some of these in my next post. It was great to be able to get up so close to the sculptures; allowing an interaction that is often not possible when works are presented in an interior gallery or museum space.