We present two exhibitions of work from our collection, examining two giants of British art and their deep connection with Yorkshire: Barbara Hepworth (born in Wakefield in 1903) and Henry Moore (born in Castleford in 1898).
Barbara Hepworth first met Henry Moore after the First World War at Leeds School of Art where they both studied, and both went on to the Royal College of Art, London in the early 1920s.
‘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.’
Around 30 works by Barbara Hepworth is on display, tracing the artist’s whole career, from early drawings created in 1925, to her late marble sculptures of the 1970s. The display will include Hepworth’s iconic stringed forms that emerged during the 1940s, as well as important examples of the full range of material types that she used – cast bronze, stone and wood carvings, paintings, prints and even a screen-printed scarf. It is also the first time Hepworth’s personal library has been on public view.
The exhibiton also features important examples of the full range of material types that she used – cast bronze, stone and wood carvings, paintings, prints and even a screen-printed scarf.
The first public view of Hepworth’s Personal Library
Hepworth’s personal library is on display publicly for the first time, curated by Clare Nadal, a collaborative PhD student funded by the University of Huddersfield, to offer an insight into Hepworth’s creative inspirations. Hepworth’s books are held by The Hepworth Wakefield as a research resource and reflect a broad array of interests from natural history and mathematics to Zen Buddhism. Many were gifts from artist friends including Ben Nicholson and Herbert Read, William Scott and Isamu Noguchi and contain personal dedications.
With hundreds of sculptures on public display worldwide, Henry Moore is one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors. He was born in 1898 in Castleford, the son of a miner, and received an ex-servicemen’s grant to study at Leeds School of Art following active service during the First World War.
In Leeds he met Barbara Hepworth and both went to study at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London. The former Wakefield Art Gallery started to acquire Moore’s work in the 1930s. Both Hepworth and Moore were deeply inspired by their formative experiences of the Yorkshire landscape.
In 1977, Moore discovered that Wakefield was fundraising to buy one print from his series Stonehenge (1973) and promptly donated a complete set to the collection. This series can be seen in its entirety, alongside important sculptures and drawings of coal miners from the 1940s, showing Moore’s continued exploration of stone, texture and form.
During the war, he became widely known for his drawings of Londoners sheltering in Underground stations and was commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee to record miners in Castleford, documenting the civilian contribution to the war effort. A selection of these drawings feature in this display.