Barbara Hepworth

This was a gorgeous exhibition, especially when accompanied by two lovely ladies -Ange and Sam, take a bow! 

There were so many pieces that could be discussed here, but the relationship with and influence of Ben Nicholson stood out for me. 

The influence these two artists had on each other was most obvious with these pieces: Hepworth’s ‘Two Heads’ of 1932 and Nicholson’s linocut, ‘Profiles’, of the same year. 

 Not entirely sure why this resonated with me, but it was quite wonderful to see the connections. The simplistic echo of the way on which the facial fratures were carved into stone, just as they were carved in the linocut was sublime. 

The other two connected pieces were Kneeling Woman and Nicholson’s Venetian Red and the repetition of the profile between the two.    


The other rooms were equally impressive. The room with the guarea wood carvings were exquisite. The fact that she risked opening them up was quite thrilling. One false move and …disaster. The way in which some of them were painted to create shadow was quite wonderful and the wood itself was so beautifully warm that it was so difficult to resit running your hand over the surface. 

One criticism  I have is echoed in the Guardian review. So many pieces were under glass and they almost vibrated in their need to be touched and to be in the open air, which was so frustrating.  It’s understandable, but when you can’t see the pattern of the wood because the glass is too reflective, that is quite an oversight. 

There is definitely a trip to St Ives on the cards now! 



The Grotesque and Francis Bacon


Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

When visiting Tate Britain, I find myself revisiting favourite pieces and this is one that began by repelling me and now is a firm favourite.

As with all grotesques, there is something compelling about the features.  Who can deny being fascinated by Quinten Massys’ The Grotesque Woman, that hangs in The National Gallery?

Given that there is a direct link to one of my favourite films – Battleship Potemkin, (7.23)

it’s hard to think that I really did not like this at first.  As you approach it, in the gallery, you feel disconcerted.  The body shapes are so exaggerated – no one can possible move in this way.  Reading more about the work and the links to other paintings, meant that I started to gain an understanding of what Bacon was trying to achieve.  The painting is based on Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, not as a representation but as a response to his reading of this gruesome tale.

As a starting point for Bacon, it cannot be surpassed and his works are worth exploring in depth.