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Barbara Hepworth retrospective – and how to buy her art for £75

I'm a little breathless about yesterday's news that a big Barbara Hepworth retrospective is coming to Tate Britain next year. 

I saw Hepworth's work some years ago, in a show at Tate St Ives (in the town so dear to me): the Tate Britain show promises to be very good indeed, but the Cornish branch was possibly the most spectacular building in which to view her curvaceous, earthy work – and not just because it was the mid-century sculptor's adopted home and workplace.

If you've been to the beach-side gallery, you'll know the central plinth inside the front of the building, beyond which you can see the waves crashing into Porthmeor Beach beyond, sand, sky and water lit up with that unique, luminous St Ives light. Imagine now looking at that view not just through the circle of the windows, but also through the void in the middle of a giant Hepworth artwork. Magical.

The Tate Britain show, opening in Summer 2015, will be the first Hepworth retrospective in London since 1968 and will feature more than 70 works, including rarely exhibited pieces, pre-war carvings that survived the bombing of her studio and the artist's use of photography and film. (Random fact unconnected to Hepworth, but connected to St Ives and the war: my dad was a small boy in the 1940s and, while in St Ives visiting his grandmother, had to hide behind rocks on the little beach next to Tate St Ives as enemy planes flew overhead and shot at him and his father.

I'm digressing wildly. And this isn't just an excuse to publish images of some of my favourite pieces of her work. If you can't wait until 2015 to come to the big smoke and get your fix – did you know that John Lewis is currently selling a collection of beautiful reproduction Barbara Hepworth prints (pictured above and below)?

They're £75 each and are exclusive to John Lewis as part of the celebrations of the store's 150th anniversary.

The artworks were chosen because one of Barbara Hepworth's sculptures, Winged Figure, commissioned by John Lewis and installed in the early 1960s, adorns the exterior of the flagship London branch. You can see and read about the interesting story behind the six-foot sculpture on the excellent My Friend's House blog.

But don't go yet – you can also see some of Hepworth's rarely-seen drawings in this archive post by contributing ed, Abi.

Happy weekend all – and I'm off for a couple of weeks, partly taking little break in the sun and partly obsessing over what DIY chores around the house I can get stuck into. That's just how some people relax. You of all people should understand...

The Barbara Hepworth retrospective takes place at Tate Britain next summer; also part of the Tate's 2015 programme are major exhibitions including Jackson Pollock, Frank Auerbach, Marlene Dumas and Alexander Calder, kinetic sculptor and inventor of the mobile. 

Images: John Lewis, and Hepworth Estate for the photograph of Barbara Hepworth in the Palais studio in 1963 with unfinished wood carving Hollow Form with White Interior, taken by Val Wilmer.

Post by Kate


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  2. Great post - also worth mentioning, especially to those living in the north of England, The Hepworth Wakefield in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Hepworth's hometown. Full details - here you can see Hepworth's 'to scale' working models, predominantly made in plaster, tools and learn about the processes behind her iconic works.

    1. Thanks for the additional Hepworth info - much appreciated. Must visit!