“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!
Here’s an interesting piece, by Laura Edith Guy, based in part on encounters with the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive: Notes on Jacquetta Hawkes and film. The writer’s research interests centre on visual arts: it is intriguing how often connections with painting, photography and film come up in working with Jacquetta heritage.
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.
Just announced: the 2010 Ilkley Literature Festival programme includes several events celebrating the centenary of Jacquetta Hawkes. More detail about buying tickets etc available from the Festival website.
Tuesday 28 September-Sunday 31 October 2010, Manor House Museum. Celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes. An exhibition in which I use the treasures of the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive to tell her fascinating story. (Event no. 2).
Wednesday 6 October 2010. 6.30-8 pm, Manor House Museum. Private view: special chance to enjoy the above exhibition and Faces of Poetry, also on show in the Manor House. (Event no. 54).
Wednesday 6 October 7.45 pm, Ilkley Playhouse Wildmans. Old Land, New Land: a journey through Jacquetta Hawkes’ poetic geography. Dr Christine Finn, Jacquetta’s biographer, introduces Figures in a Landscape, an experimental film about Barbara Hepworth scripted by Jacquetta Hawkes and continuing the fusion of literature and geology shown in her masterpiece, A Land. (Event no. 55).
Saturday 16 October 7.30 pm, St Margaret’s Hall. Jacquetta Hawkes and her Circle. Dr Finn and Dr Jon Wood of the Henry Moore Institute discuss the art, film and poetry scene of the 1950s (Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Festival of Britain) and Jacquetta’s involvement. (Event no. 165).
The Stanza Stones project, collaborating with Simon Armitage, will draw creative inspiration from the Pennine landscape, linking beautifully with our exploration of similar ideas in the 1950s.
Posted in Christine Finn news, Film and visual arts, Friends and family, Jacquetta and objects, Poetry, Special Collections news
Tagged 1950s, Arts, Christine Finn, Film, Jacquetta Hawkes, Stones
Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.
An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.
Intro | Credits | Previous | Next
5. “Clothes and other vanities”
Soon after the war, Jacquetta became principal in the Ministry of Education, responsible for visual education. The results included a film made in the Orkneys by the Crown Film Unit, “The beginning of history” (1946). However, she decided to leave her successful career in the civil service in 1949 to concentrate on imaginative work. This included film, for example, creating “Figures in a landscape” (1953), which set the work of sculptor Barbara Hepworth in geological context.
Design for costumes, Anglo-Saxon, Festival of Britain
Jacquetta’s commitment to sharing the story of the past is shown in her work for the Festival of Britain (1951). As archaeological advisor to the Festival, Jacquetta helped create the exhibits telling the story of the peoples of Britain. The Archive includes detailed correspondence over two years discussing costumes, the shapes of chariots and bowls, and how to use the limited space and resources to best effect. This image shows one of Jacquetta’s detailed costume sketches. For her contribution, she received the OBE in the New Years Honours 1952.
Jacquetta with Laurie Lee
Jacquetta excelled as a film-maker and exhibit designer partly because of her strong visual sense and love of art and design. She said of herself in 1949, “She is fond of the visual arts, particularly in modern painting, and buys pictures with such money as is left over after indulging in a parallel fondness for clothes and other vanities”. Her clothes in photographs in the Archive are always a delight: this image of her with Laurie Lee shows her in a flowing New Look dress. She was easily picked out at Aldermaston Marches in the 1950s and 1960s by her distinctive hats.