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Trail Stop No 14 - 1970s:
Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden opens

Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield in 1903. She studied at Leeds College of Art and then at the Royal College of Art in London.  She settled in London with her first husband John Skeaping, but they divorced in 1933 after she fell in love with the artist Ben Nicholson. Together they moved to St. Ives in 1939 to escape the threat of bombing in London. They initially moved to Chy-an-Kerris in Carbis Bay, before she then acquired Trewyn Studio on Barnoon Hill in the centre of St. Ives in September 1949 moving there the following year. It was both her home and workplace for the next 25 years until her death in 1975. She completed a large number of her pieces there using different materials and it contains the largest group of her work on permanent display. Following her death she left instructions that Trewyn should be set up as a museum, and it has been in the care of the Tate Gallery since 1980.

Post-war St. Ives was a thriving centre for all forms of art and Barbara Hepworth was at its centre. She found inspiration not only in the landscape, the 'barbaric and magical countryside' as she described it, but also in the people. She greatly valued being part of such a vibrant artistic community, and played a very active part in the life of the town. In June 1953 she co-founded the inaugural St. Ives Festival with Sir Michael Tippett and Priaulx Rainier in celebration of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. She helped to form the St. Ives Trust which was set up to preserve and protect the natural, historical and architectural features of the town and was an active campaigner on these issues.

On 23rd September 1968 Barbara Hepworth and world renowned potter Bernard Leach were awarded the Freedom of the Borough of St. Ives in recognition of their international contribution to the arts. She was immensely proud of this honour and in her acceptance speech she paid tribute to St. Ives which she referred to as 'my spiritual home'. The same year she was made a Bard of Cornwall at a ceremony in St. Just, taking the bardic name of 'Gravyor', meaning sculptor in Cornish.

St. Ives Museum has a number of documents about the life of Barbara Hepworth, and also a unique necklace and bracelet made by local jewellery maker Janet Slack, fashioned from some crystal beads given to her by Hepworth around 1970.

Find out more about Barbara Hepworth and her life and work in St. Ives via the following links:

The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

BBC film 'Barbara Hepworth's Cornwall, first broadcast in 1961

Barbara Hepworth and Bernard Leach awarded the Freedom of the Borough of St. Ives in 1968


Dame Barbara Hepworth

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Leaving the Guildhall after being awarded the Freedom of the Borough of St. Ives

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