“I was born with the ideas of certain shapes in my mind, as far back as seven …”
The sculptor Barbara Hepworth developed her unique vision early in life – her career refined and developed this into art. We have seen something similar with her near contemporary, Jacquetta Hawkes, and her interest in the deep past. Both artists were drawn to the qualities of stone and of landscape, the visual, the tactile – a romantic, lyrical, British take on modernism.
They came together on the experimental film Figures in a Landscape, for which Jacquetta wrote the script, characteristically setting Hepworth’s art in the context of Cornwall’s geology. Again and again the director, Dudley Shaw Ashton, shows us natural forms in the landscape which then merge with Hepworth’s created forms. We see her creating too, at work in her studio, hewing her ideas out of the rock with chisel and saw; hard, physical work requiring strength and finesse.
The film uses strident music by Priaulx Rainier and saturated 1950s colours to striking effect. Before I saw it, having read the script, I’d pictured the black and white, wild, romantic Du Maurier Cornwall depicted in films of the period. I remember being surprised and even unsettled by the way the elements of the film were put together, and it made me look again at Hepworth (who, like Henry Moore, may have suffered from over-exposure as a certain kind of public art, ubiquitous and often unloved in public spaces during the 1970s).
This intriguing film is on show as part of a major Hepworth retrospective. Open from 24 June-25 October 2015, Sculpture for a Modern World has been extensively reviewed and discussed and will bring Hepworth and her contemporaries to new audiences. I hope to visit the exhibition next time I am in London – watch this space!
We’re thrilled to announce that some of the most exciting, beautiful and historically fascinating objects in the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive will be on show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park from 8 September to 4 November 2012. They appear as part of an exhibition, Back to A Land, curated by Dr Christine Finn, Jacquetta’s biographer.
La Cotte de St. Brelade (Jersey), entrance to the cave from the ravine (archive ref: HAW 18/3/45)
The exhibition coincides with the Harper Collins reissue of Jacquetta’s tour de force, A Land, her synthesis of geology, poetry and travelogue. Fêted by critics and the public as a celebration of Britain’s landscape as it emerged out of the dark days of war, Hawkes’ wandering – and wondering – about the origins of Britain’s foundations, from primeval swamp to North London pavement, was illustrated by her friend Henry Moore. Dr Finn has used the book as well as Jacquetta’s notebooks, manuscripts, photographs and other archive items to revisit the key locations of A Land, reflecting on how Britain has changed since first publication and presents the results in new photography, film, and illustration.
This week the 100 Objects exhibition looks at another fascinating aspect of the work of Jacquetta Hawkes. The featured object (no. 39) is a 1953 film scripted by Jacquetta: Figures in a Landscape, a poetic documentary about the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Find out more on the exhibition website, which includes a link to see an excerpt of the film online.
There is so much interest in Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and post-war British sculpture at the moment! Very much reflected on this blog, as Jacquetta Hawkes had many connections with these artists and was also inspired by British landscapes and geology. The latest event takes place in Powys: Dr Christine Finn will show Figures in a Landscape, Jacquetta’s 1953 film about sculptor Barbara Hepworth, and discuss the British post-WW2 arts scene at the Bleddfa Centre on 8 October.