Barbara Hepworth, Tate Britain

Barbara Hepwoth Tate Britain

Weekends in July in London tend to be hectic and hot, and during this touristy time it can be a struggle to find pleasant things to do in the city. Tate Modern is overcrowded with keen to be cultured visitors whereas TateBritain seems to be left for Londoners to enjoy. When I visited last weekend it was a perfectly cool and serene place to spend time.

This landmark museum is currently showing a collection of Barbara Hepworth’s works. Many associate this influential artist with Cornwall, which is where I first remember seeing her sensual and smooth sculptures. The exhibition is displayed chronologically – showcasing her evolving style and use of different materials, changing organically as she moved through different periods of her life.

Most touching are the works which indicate the importance of a particular relationship, the small mother and child abstract sculptures that fit together so lovingly, or her use of her husband artist Ben Nicholson’s paint in her stringed, coloured works. Her treatment of wood is like nobody else’s, she soothes and cares for it, manipulates it into an expressive and vital figure or object.

Clearly the Cornish countryside and coast affected her work enormously. Some of the circular sculptures echo the rock formations and primitive earthworks found in Cornwall while others just possess a peace and serenity reminiscent of the land and water. I am not much of a fan of the final room which displays some of her more imposing, almost aggressive sculptures, designed for outdoor display. The jagged edges are harsh and slightly disconcerting after the calm of the earlier works

Barbara Hepworth is one of the leading sculptors of the 20th century but this exhibition is quiet and understated, a calm and beautiful presentation of her timeless art.

Exhibition continues until 25 October, more information here.

***My new travel book, CORNWALL by Weekend Journals is available to order here. Use the code TMM10 to get 10% off.***

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