“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!
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.
As regular readers will know, Jacquetta Hawkes was inspired by the work of modern artists and sculptors, particularly Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Spring 2011 has seen celebrations of Hepworth and Moore in their native West Yorkshire:
- The Hepworth Wakefield is a new art gallery on a riverside location in Wakefield. It opens on 21 May 2011.
- The Leeds Art Gallery is showing the recent Henry Moore exhibition from the Tate, which took a new look at the darkness in his work. Finishes 12 June.
- Moore/Hepworth Conference, 3 and 4 June, “critically examines the relationships between Moore and Hepworth in the county of their birth. It aims to explore the specificity of place, re-examining the imagery of landscape …” Dr Christine Finn, Jacquetta’s biographer, will discuss Figures in a Landscape, Jacquetta’s film which sets Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture in a poetic landscape.
Jacquetta Hawkes and J.B. Priestley on boat while visiting Japan, 1952
Today John Brooker (my Assistant) and I set up the Celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes exhibition at the Manor House Museum in Ilkley. This exhibition uses treasures from the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive to tell her fascinating story, and will be on show throughout the Ilkley Literature Festival until 31 October. The Festival programme includes a private view of the exhibition, and two talks by Jacquetta’s biographer Dr Christine Finn.
The exhibition concentrates on the years around Jacquetta’s masterpiece A Land, complementing the two talks. It includes the script for her film about Barbara Hepworth, her links with Henry Moore, her work on the Festival of Britain, and the typescript and published version of her greatest poem, Man in Time. There is also a gallery of photographs of Jacquetta in the 1940s and 1950s, in a chic 40s suit, some stunning New Look dresses, and even a kimono.
Part of the Jacquetta Hawkes exhibition, showing ammonites and Henry Moore illustrations for A Land