Visiting the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden offers a remarkable insight into the work and outlook of one of Britain’s most important twentieth century artists. Sculptures in bronze, stone and wood are on display in the museum and garden, along with paintings, drawings and archive material.
Barbara Hepworth first came to live in Cornwall with her husband Ben Nicholson and their young family at the outbreak of war in 1939. She lived and worked in Trewyn studios – now the Barbara Hepworth Museum – from 1949 until her death in 1975. Following her wish to establish her home and studio as a museum of her work, Trewyn Studio and much of the artist’s work remaining there was given to the nation and placed in the care of the Tate Gallery in 1980.
‘Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic’, wrote Barbara Hepworth. ‘Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space.’ When she first arrived at Trewyn Studio, Hepworth was still largely preoccupied with stone and wood carving, but during the 1950s she increasingly made sculpture in bronze as well. This led her to create works on a more monumental scale, for which she used the garden as a viewing area.
Most of the bronzes are in the positions in which the artist herself placed them. The garden itself was laid out by Barbara Hepworth with help from a friend, the composer Priaulx Rainier.