Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield in 1903 and went on to become a prominent English sculptor, so it seems a fitting tribute to have an art gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, named after her in the city. Hepworth gained international recognition for her sculptures, and become a name synonymous with the modern art movement and the tendency toward abstraction. Honouring years of marvellous work, the Hepworth Gallery dedicates much of its current space to her, under the title of ‘Two Forms’. It begins with her series of Mother and Child sculptures, which struck me as perhaps her most prominent.
Whilst viewing the mother and child sculptures, one is captured by the pure simplicity of Hepworth’s art, yet there is a sense of the intimacy with which she created her work. This intimacy is reflected in the spacing between mother and child in the sculpture itself, as the child is held in a tender, loving way, a truly unique form of attachment. The two forms themselves are not actually touching however; instead they are connected by a hidden pole that goes through the mother, and into the child. The subtle tension created by Hepworth through this can act as a portrayal of the child having independence in its own right as a form, whilst always retaining a bond with the mother, which needn’t be seen. The bond does its work silently, yet diligently, and artistically reflects the emotional link between mothers and their children.
Moving through the galleries, one again ponders at the set-up of Hepworth’s workstation. By looking at her tools and instruments, one can see the pure necessity of (very literally in the sense of sculpting) getting to grips with the raw materials one uses to create an artwork, and the nurturing that is needed in order to display such deep emotion within this particular artistic form. The feeling of the materials during the creation of the piece is very much reflected to the observer, who is pulled in to ponder over the feelings they have towards their own mother, as well as the strength of their respective connections. For such a simplistic art form, Hepworth’s Mother and Child most certainly evoke an internal firework display of emotions. With regards to the heritage of art in Yorkshire, it seems pertinent that Hepworth’s Mother and Child sculptures are being displayed in Wakefield, the city with which Barbara Hepworth shall evermore retain this child-to-mother bond.
The Hepworth Wakefield
Wakefield WF1 5AW
Filed under: Art & Photography