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Hepworth’s Plasters

2 hours artist workshop for key stage 1 - 5

How and why do artists, such as Hepworth, use plaster? The Hepworth Family Gift comprises 44 surviving prototypes of Hepworth’s work, including those made from plaster.

Pupils will investigate how Hepworth used the materials and created texture and form with her own hands, and her use of scale. From this, pupils will create a series of drawings and designs which will help them create their own plaster sculptures or bass relief.

Delivered by artist Jo Lee

Jo is a multi-media artist who specialises in ceramics and plaster. There are two sides to her work, the sensitive and the silly but ultimately, Jo’s work is driven by the experience of life whether human or imagined: memories, ageing, emotions, relationships and the traces left by their existence.

Take back to school

  • Pupils will create a series of drawings and individual plaster and wire sculptures or bass reliefs
  • Your class will receive a certificate of achievement to display at school


Wakefield Schools: £170

Other: £190

Book this workshop

Learning outcomes and curriculum links


Art and design

  • Learn about Barbara Hepworth’s artwork and contemporary artists
  • Develop drawing techniques and understanding of sculpture
  • Evaluate, analyse and discuss the artwork in the gallery


  • Develop speaking and listening skills by talking confidently in new learning contexts and communicating ideas. Engage in discussion, confidently voice opinions and questions to show understanding


  • Build confidence and resilience in learning outside of the classroom
  • Build self- esteem by sharing opinions and explaining views on the artwork
  • Recognise choices made in a new learning environment
  • Work in small groups and individually
  • Develop critical thinking skills and take part in class discussion


Art and Design

  • First-hand observation of Barbara Hepworth’s artworks
  • Explore ideas and imagination using experience of learning outside of the classroom
  • Develop understanding of contemporary sculpture, artistic process and materials
  • Develop drawing techniques and sculpture making skills using a range of techniques and media


  • Develop speaking and listening skills by talking confidently in new learning contexts, communicating ideas and critical analyse. Engage in discussion, confidently voice opinions and questions to show understanding

Outline of session


  • Gallery 4 & 5: Pupils will be introduced to Hepworth’s plasters and engage in observation activities tasked with using viewfinders
  • After identifying their favourite and most interesting works using word cards, pupils will take part in drawing activities that will help them create their own plaster artwork or bass relief.

Learning studios

Bass Relief (Key stage 1)

  • Be shown how to create a mother mould out of clay.
  • They will draw on their inspiration of shapes and lines found in the gallery to indent marks into their mother mould
  • Listen to an explanation about the properties of plaster and watch as a large batch is mixed and poured into their mother moulds to make their plaster bass relief.
  • The bass reliefs will be ready to be opened when pupils are back at school. The mother mould is to be peeled away revealing the positive plaster bass relief and the negative mother mould.

Plaster Maquette (Key stage 2 – 5)

  • Pupils will be shown how to make an armature using wire and mesh to form the basis for their plaster artwork.
  • They will then be shown how to bulk out areas out using newspaper and masking tape
  • To complete their artwork, they will learn how to apply Modroc.

How can teachers and group leaders help?

Please bring your enthusiasm, be prepared to join in and model good behaviour.

To support activity in the galleries please remind children about our three rules:

  • no shouting
  • no touching
  • no running

You will need to bring a number of boxes to carry the plaster sculptures back to school. Please be aware that we are unable to store any work at the gallery.