Barbara Hepworth’s Museum and Sculpture Garden ~ St. Ives

Filed in Gather Travel Essential by on January 1, 2012 0 Comments

One of the things Magi and I noticed as we wandered the cobblestone footpaths on our second day in St. Ives was the fact that there were artist studios and galleries everywhere.













Like our own Rockport, Massachusetts and Ogunquit, Maine, artists have been coming to work in St. Ives since the nineteenth century. From the 1880s onwards, it seems, St Ives and the west Cornwall hinterland were firmly on the map as destinations for artists seeking a quasi-communal way of living and working.


In the beginning, so we were told, artists were producing realistically observed marine and landscape paintings. Then in the 40’s after the war, St. Ives’s place in art history became firmly entrenched in the modernist tradition and its later offshoots.

One of the perks of our B&B was a combination ticket to the Tate Gallery-St. Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. The Tate sits high on a hill overlooking Porthmeor Beach. We were excited with the prospect of attending the current exhibition, “The Indiscipline of Painting, International Abstraction from the 60’s to Now”. I’m afraid we were sorely disappointed. Although both Mag and I like abstract art, we were unimpressed with all but a couple of the exhibits. We spent more time in the Tate’s little café drinking hot cocoa then we did in the galleries.

Leaving the Tate, we ambled over to the Hepworth Museum. What a delightful place to spend some time. The Museum is housed in Barbara Hepworth’s former home and studio. Although I was not familiar with Hepworth or her sculptures, the museum provided the story of her life in photographs as well as press cuttings. She was a most amazing woman. To learn more about Hepworth, follow this link.






After touring the Museum, Mag and I spent a good hour in the Sculpture Garden behind the Museum photographing her work. Although the garden is rather small, it is full of amazing sculptures that blend in with the environment. I was overwhelmed with the beauty and form of her work and tried to capture it with my camera.











There are holes everywhere I look. I’m in St Ives in Cornwall, strolling around the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, a thickly growing, almost tropical space where tree, plant, shrub and sculpture live in perfect harmony. A circular opening in a bronze oval pulls my eye through it to a second sculpture hovering amid wet green leaves. Another bronze shape is big enough for me to enter. Inside, I look up at the sky through a gaping hole, into the drizzle that’s spattering down on to the bronze floor. Every vista seems framed by these holes, like eyes, like caves.” (Jonathan Jones, article in the Guardian, May 2, 2011).





Her sculptures make gorgeous frames.  I found this piece to be quite interesting as I drew closer and closer.


I was amazed how each of her sculptures “fit” within the environment.


It was fun capturing other museum guests through the circular openings.

As you can see, Hepworth’s Sculpture Garden is a fascinating place to visit.  Both Magi and I found it to be a most intimate setting for some amazing and very varied sculptures.  We loved how the sculptures were placed far enough apart that one could enjoy each one individually, but close enough together that you can get really interesting perspectives of three or four sculptures at once. Although I would like to visit the Garden in the summer some time, the fall foliage did provide a lovely contrast.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.

About the Author ()

I am a child of the light, seeking truth beyond the horizon. I came of age during the late 60's and through my wanderings and explorations I discovered great truths about how I wanted to live my life. At the break of day, despite the wrinkles and liver s

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