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Barbara Hepworth, Pierced Hemisphere, 1937. White marble. The Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection) ©Bowness, Hepworth Estate Photo © Norman Taylor
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Barbara Hepworth

On permanent display - new display opens Sat 26 Oct

Free entry

Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield in 1903. Her father was a surveyor for West Riding County Council and Hepworth accompanied him on his inspections of local roads and bridges. She later wrote: ‘Perhaps what one wants to say is formed in childhood and the rest of one’s life is spent trying to say it. I know that all I felt during the early years of my life in Yorkshire is dynamic and constant in my life today.’

This exhibition provides a survey of Hepworth’s extraordinary career, from early work to iconic stringed sculptures and large scale carvings from the 1960s and 70s. Her sculptures are shown alongside a selection of paintings, prints and ceramics made by artists Hepworth knew and worked with, revealing the cultural networks of which she was a part.


When The Hepworth Wakefield Garden opened in summer 2019, Rebecca Warren was the first contemporary artist to be invited to present a sculpture in this unique setting: The Three (2017) is a large hand-painted bronze figure. Warren has echoed Hepworth’s love of external settings for sculpture, noting: ‘I look forward to seeing how it is affected by the changing light of the different seasons.’ Both The Three and Pauline (2006), on display as part of this exhibition, are made from clay that has been cast in bronze. They retain the organic malleability of their original material, as Warren states: ‘I try to keep it close to the original sense of clay, so it’s quite rough, quite raw.’

Warren’s works engage with the legacies of modernist sculptors like Hepworth, particularly in thinking about materials and abstraction. Her distinctive way of working with bronze retains the close physical relationship between artist and material: gestures and marks remain traceable on the surface of the bronze whether left raw or hand painted. She has noted, ‘You can polish nice highlights into bronze. If you paint it, it becomes made of paint throughout – or the paint has form – or the two impact each other at odd mental angles’. Pauline, selected by the artist, has been positioned near the window, connecting to Hepworth’s sculptures both within and outside the gallery.

Barbara Hepworth, Spring (Plaster), 1966 Plaster with strings. 76.8 x 58.7 x 54.2 cm. Presented by the artist's daughters, Rachel Kidd and Sarah Bowness, through the Trustees of the Barbara Hepworth Estate and the Art Fund. © Bowness


Exhibition supported by: