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Art & artists > Our collection > The Hepworth Family Gift >

Barbara Hepworth

Involute I

1903 - 1975

Involute I
Plaster on a wooden base painted black
16 × 24 × 21 cm
Presented by the artist’s daughters, Rachel Kidd and Sarah Bowness, through the Trustees of the Barbara Hepworth Estate and the Art Fund


This is a plaster version of the limestone sculpture of 1946, Involute I. The carving was brought by its then owner to St Ives in 1968 for cleaning and restoration, and Hepworth carved the plaster version at this time in order to cast in bronze. When Hepworth sent Involute I (1946/1968) up to the Morris Singer foundry, she described it as ‘a new plaster of 1968 version, freely copied for bronze of Involute I 1946’.  She viewed it as ‘a great success’, as she wrote to the owner of the carving.

Morris Singer used the lost wax technique to cast Involute, making a very complex mould off the plaster, as it ‘requires very special handling to maintain its line and form’, the foundry manager Eric Gibbard wrote to Hepworth (22 January 1969). The title suggests gentle spiralling movement: ‘involute’ is defined in geometry as ‘the locus of a point fixed on a straight line that rolls without sliding on a curve and is in the plane of that curve.’ The title is shared by another carving of 1946 and two further bronzes, of 1956, and together they form a loosely related group of works.