Sculptress Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903 -1975) was one of the few women artists of the 20th Century to achieve international prominence. Last week I visited her Trewyn studio in St Ives, now maintained by the Tate.
Downstairs, in what was originally part of her home, cabinets of photographs and other ephemera, and a selection of her wood chisels alongside some half-completed works.
Hepworth's leanings towards the abstract and avant-garde were firmly established by the early 1930's after visits to the Parisian studios of Arp, Brancusi, Mondrian, Braque and Picasso. She and her second husband, painter Ben Nicholson, evacuated from London to St. Ives during the war and never left. In 1949 she found and purchased Trewyn Studio, and after divorcing Nicholson two years later it became her permanent home as well as place of work.
Upstairs, more examples of her sculptures are on display in an airy whitewashed room, with a fireplace at one end, and a doorway out into a garden at the other. I had the place all to myself........
Tragically Barbara Hepworth died here in a horrific house fire on 20th May 1975.
At one end of the garden, two whitewashed studios, and a yard full of rough cut and prepared marble blocks. One feels as though Barbara Hepworth has just popped down to the harbour for a breath of sea air and will return any moment to continue her labours, for everything has been left in its place as it was at the time of her death.
In a conservatory, potted cacti and succulents....
A place to sit and think, or to entertain friends on a balmy summer's evening.
From the road below Trewyn all you see are high stone walls, no hint of the giant, imposing bronze and stone sculptures nestled amongst the lush greenery of her beloved garden.
This was a place of serenity sheltered from the westerly gales where Barbara could work in total privacy, yet only be a short stroll from the harbour and the sea, her friends, and all of life in St. Ives. This was truly where she felt at home.
Every sculpture has at least one hole through which you catch glimpses of the rest of the garden; three-dimensional picture frames, which as you walk around, open up new vistas to the eye. This is sculpture that you can interact with as well as admire.
Down the back staircase, a few potted plants and a couple of rounded pebbles. Simple. Beautiful.
Such an intimate and personal museum. I highly recommend.