Barbara Hepworth

Writing and Conversations

“It is the mystery that makes such loveliness and I want to project my feeling about it into sculpture - not words.”

Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) was a British sculptor known for modernist shapes and figures. Writings and Conversations gathers Hepworth’s articles, essays, and interviews from 1933 until her death in 1975. Throughout this work she is clear on what drives her, the concepts of fear and truth, the difference between modeling and carving, the defining feeling of presence in her work and much more.

Although Hepworth is less known than her contemporary Henry Moore (unjustly, I think) she has become more popular and better understood due to recent exhibitions like the Tate’s 2015 Retrospective. Hepworth’s work is also on full-time exhibit at the Hepworth Wakefield in West Yorkshire.

I recently visited Hepworth’s studio garden in St. Ives where one can see – and touch – many of her pieces. Her combination of shapes, lines, even materials in such proportion makes one feel something unspoken. Lines or holes are often added, why? Because they were missing? Needed?  This book offers insight into an artist who was consistently interested in a contemplation of the mystery that propels us through imagination and into art. Contemplating that mystery, what Mary Oliver called “the eternal” and Thoreau called “Something” guides my focus, too.