Monday, 8 June 2015

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden

While we were in Cornwall in April we visited the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St Ives.  It is actually the second time that we have visited and I would most certainly go again if I was in St Ives.  You can find out more information here.

Although in some ways I am not a fan of "modern art" Hepworth's pieces are something that I love.  I cannot explain I am afraid, but they really speak to me.  I like the curves and lines of the pieces that she created.

The Garden is tiny and is located in the garden of Hepworth's house and studio.  It is well worth a visit.

I hope that you will enjoy this tour around.

When you first go in there is a small exhibition with photographs and some personal and work history.  There are also some wooden pieces on display.

This photo shows Hepworth in later years.  A woman of great style.

After you go upstairs there is a large open room with many sculptures being displayed.  This piece is my favourite.  I love the colour of the wood, the contrast between the white area in terms of colour and texture.  It reminds me of a nut that some animal has been trying to eat its way through.

This is the back of the piece.  Or perhaps it is the front!

In total contrast is this metal and wire - or string? - piece.  This is all about the lines that are being created.

Another wooden piece, I liked this, but not as much as the one above.

The day that we visited was really bright and sunny which was wonderful but it made taking photos a bit difficult so sorry about that!

In these photos you can see the studio where Hepworth worked on her sculptures, there are pieces in progress and her tools can also be seen here.

It is so sad that she died before these pieces could be completed.  We will never know how she intended them to be.

The reason there are pieces left unfinished is that Hepworth died in a fire at her studio and home in 1975.

All around the garden there are plants and flowers and trees.  The leaves of this tree tree - a magnolia? - made the most amazing noise in the wind.  It was so loud.  I could have stood there all day just listening to it.  We had to see the sculptures though!

I did not keep a record of which piece was which, so I cannot tell you more about them.  So just enjoy!

Most of the pieces are free form or very flowing, but some as you can see above are very angular.

This is another of the pieces with wires that I find so interesting.  Are the holding it together.  Is it about the tension?  I don't know.

Some years ago when I first had a digital camera I used to take lots of pictures of what I called "textures".  This photo of lichen on a tree branch would come into that category.  It is fascinating though isn't it.

You can see how beautiful the blue sky was with this cherry blossom just beginning to open.  Bliss!

This piece has a shallow depression inside that allows the water to collect inside.  Whether this is intentional or not I don't know.  I am pretty sure though that Hepworth was not designing bronze bird baths!

As the garden is on different levels there are steps and paths winding up and down.  It makes the space feel much larger than it actually is.

This piece looks to me like a woman with her arms wrapped around either herself or someone else.

Many views are created of one piece through another.

As you can see here.

This is the piece that you can see through the one above.

There are both large and small sculptures in the garden.  This is one of the smaller ones.  What do you think, they look like men heading off somewhere to me!

Several of the pieces are cut away to reveal different textures inside or further cut outs.

Others wind and twist around themselves.

Or are just angular shapes.

Or a series of angular shapes.

You can see one of the pieces that has another section hidden inside it.  As though it is being held safely by arms wrapped around it.

In days gone by this shot and the one below would have been returned from being developed with a sticker on it saying "overexposed" but now we can take as many pictures as we like and we appreciate this different look and the bokeh that appear in our shots!

Just occasionally you can glimpse views out of the garden and you can just see the sea in this one!

As well as looking straight on at the obvious views of each piece I like to look at the backs and sides.  They look the same but so different at the same time.

In the middle of the garden there is a pool with this little bridge over it.  It isn't really suitable for walking over thought!

You can see just how tiny the home and gallery is.

We took a last look around.

Remembering to photograph the blocks of stone that were all stood waiting to be worked by a sculptress who was not going to come to deal with them.  They almost seemed like a sculpture in themselves.

On the way back down the stairs to the way out there is a row of plants and rounded stones.  An idea for a sculpture that we could all recreate in our own gardens perhaps.

I love this garden and would as I said above go again.  It has also inspired me to look out for more Hepworth sculptures and to see more of her work if and when the opportunity arises.

I hope that you enjoyed seeing it as well.  Sorry for the high number of photos - so much to share!



  1. I loved visiting Barbara Hepworth's home & studio too, so it was so nice to be taken on a little tour this morning, thank you! I gound her abbandoned studio fascinating and spent ages staring in the window imagining her at work! I became a bit obsessed with the views through holes too after visiting and spent the rest of our holiday in Cornwall trying to find others! Have a lovely week Amy, x

  2. Looks very interesting - a great place to visit.

  3. Lovely photos, Amy. I do like the bronze bird bath! :o)

  4. Thanks for this Amy, have always wanted to visit but never got around to it, the whole place looks fascinating. I've been to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield and seen some of her work and learnt about her life there but this garden looks so special and an excellent place to fully appreciate her work:)

  5. Thanks Amy. I think she must have had quite a large garden for all those pieces - they look so tactile. x

  6. Lovely pictures. I would have said that I wasn't a fan of Barabara Hepworth's work, but seeing your pictures and reading your observations, I can see the beauty in these pieces. I think placement obviously plays a big part in showing them off to their best.

  7. I loved visiting the Barbara Hepworth studio too. I'm not a fan of modern art when it looks like something a child could make with a fancy "concept" attached to it. Feels a bit like I'm being conned. But BH's sculptures are so tactile and beautiful and skillfully made I love them.

  8. Ooh! Thank you so much for sharing these Amy. I love Hepworth's work ... it's sinuosity, if that's a word. And the fact that we find such things fascinating is, I think, one of the most wonderful things about people ... we are always open to possibility and curious to know.

  9. Very interesting sculptures. How sad that Barbara Hepworth died in a fire, I didn't know that. Wonderful work to leave for the world to enjoys thank for taking us with you Amy X

  10. Beautiful sculptures, Amy. I like Hepworth's style very much. Thank you for sharing it with us in your super photos. xx

  11. i enjoy this style. i find art very fascinating ... lovely times!! she looks like a type of lady who could tell you a thing or two ... such character!! ( :

  12. I think being able to see an artist's work in her own home and garden is brilliant, I'm sure you must get more of a feel for it somehow. Of course, we've got the Hepworth Gallery a stones throw away from here in Wakefield where Hepworth was born. It has some of her work on permanent display. I haven't visited yet since it was opened, I really should make more of an effort.

  13. How wonderful! I've never been but I'm sure I would love it. It reminds me of the Henry Moore house and gardens at Perry Green, which are also fascinating. I especially love seeing his studio space too.

  14. I'm not a big fan of modern art, but she definitely has produced some interesting pieces. The garden setting brings out the best in them.

  15. Beautiful photos, you can never have too much of Barbara Hepworth :)

  16. I would normally say not really my thing, but when you took us on our stroll I found I was wanting more. Beautiful photos.

  17. Such gorgeous sculptures. I could spend hours walking through there. Each form could represent so many different ideas. It's so sad that the artist left the world in such a tragic way. Luckily her art lives on....

  18. So fascinating to see the artistic eye of another. The sculptures are truly beautiful and so interesting. Thanks for sharing and happy week ahead! xoxo

  19. Thanks for this Amy, the tour and your thoughts. We gave St Ives a miss last month when we were staying at West Penwith last month so this makes up for it. I find Barbara's work compelling and my absolute favourite is a sculpture of a mother cradling a child which is owned by the Tate. It is quite abstract and like most sculpture you need to see it in the round to fully appreciate it but it always moves me. I think it was carved in 1934 the year she had triplets with Ben Nicholson and you will probably not be surprised to learn that I also love Ben's work especially his White Relief paintings of the same period. I'm going to dig out my art books, don't you just love blogging!

  20. Great artwork and gorgeos in a garden, would like to touch any of them by hands...

  21. Oh Wow! I want, I want, I want!. Does that come under coverting thy neighbour's goods. If so, I'm really sorry, but I want them! Blessings

  22. OOHps, my comment didn't seem to register, but I just wanted to say, 'I want;'. If that's coverting, then I'm guilty sorry, but I still want. Blessings

  23. Oh thank you so much for sharing this trip! It is indeed so sad that she had so much work unfinished but even worse as to how she died! Terribly sad! I almost didn't look at this post because I thought oh modern art but I really had no idea who she was and the beauty she created! I am so happy that I did not pass up this post and am very grateful for your sharing so many photos of her work! It is indeed captivating.
    Hugs and hope you are enjoying the new week,

  24. Fascinating. An art teacher at Matt's school creates sculpture for gardens. Amazing work. Now to find a garden big enough to warrant a sculpture. x

  25. Don't be sorry, I loved all of them! Thanks for this beautiful tour... What a great artist she was...
    Have a great week too, lots of love from Mirjam.

  26. I'm not much into modern art but these sculptures are quite interesting especially the rounded smooth ones. I like the smooth rocks in your last photo. More my style. :) Have a great week Amy!

  27. Hey Amy,
    I visit Barbara as often as I can. I love her garden. It is such a tranquil space. If you ever climb the hills that surround St Ives and look down upon the sweep of the bay, you can get a glimpse of the inspiration she found here.
    Leanne xx

  28. What an interesting sculptor! While I'm not much into modern art, preferring realism, I did enjoy her work. I liked the stones and plants in the last photo. That is something any of us could do! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  29. Such a sad end to her life! She was so creative and such an inspiration to so many people x

  30. Lovely photos - it is a wonderful place, I did visit, some years ago now. I think I know what you mean about how her work speaks to you. I always feel with sculpture that, for me, it works if I want to stroke the sculpture, and I always feel that about Hepworth's work.

  31. wow, what an interesting place to go to! I love the photo of her and definitely hope that my sense of style is just as nice. I wish I was talented in the sculpting area, but my knitting will have to do.

  32. Lovely selection of photo's. I think sculptures should also be tactile ... and many of these you've photographed are.

    Really liked the photo of the lovely blue sky too.

    All the best Jan

  33. I love Barbara Hepworth ane this place has always been on my list but you have made me REALLY want to go - you have some lovely photographs here :0))

  34. What lovely and interesting work. Very modern yet beautiful with those lovely rounded shapes. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Just came across this blog. Such good tips and ideas. Thanks for sharing them all and the photos are lovely.

  36. A wonderful sculpture garden. I especially enjoyed seeing the studio.
    And loved the idea of the last photo - would try it if I can find big enough stones.

  37. We are regular visitors to St Ives, and I went for a wander around the sculpture garden a couple of years ago. Your photos really capture the essence of the place and the wonderful forms and textures of Hepworth's sculptures. It looks like you had a lovely visit - thank you for sharing :)
    Cathy x

  38. I've never seen this glorious sculpture gallery - thank you for sharing, and for all the photographs.


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