From June until October this year the work of sculptor Barbara Hepworth was exhibited at the Tate Britain. During the 20th century Hepworth was one of the world's leading sculptors, winning major international awards and commissions during her life as well as being one of the leaders of a new generation of sculptors. Practicing direct carving Hepworth created a vast collection of abstract sculptures that incorporated elements of cubism and modernism, being considerate of the natural forms of her materials and influenced by her changing ideologies. Although Hepworth is the focus of the exhibition, the range of sculptures and images presented is expanded to include the artwork of her collaborative partner Ben Nicholson as well as other influencing sculptors such as Henry Moore, Alan Durst and several more.
Hepworth's abstract sculptures incorporate a fascinating multiplicity of form, becoming something different depending on perspective and lighting and continuously changing as you move around them. Seeing pictures can only communicate a fraction of their intricacy and sensitive design. Ranging from Hellenistic figures to abstract geometric shapes, the exhibition offers a impressively vast experience of her work and traces her development as a sculptor through materials and forms. Although Hepworth was fundamentally a pragmatic person the concepts behind her sculptures embrace a certain spiritualism that is unique to her, communicating an energy and visceral strength that her sculptures channel. The value and prominence of Hepworth's sculptures lies in their physical presence. Hers is the sort of art that truly needs to be seen in order to be understood.
Words by Alicia Hempsted