Meeting Barbara at Heide

Photograph by Jeremy Weihrauch of the new face of the Heide Museum of Modern Art

I was excited when invited to visit an art gallery in Melbourne I had visited before. The Heide Museum of Modern Art specialises in modern art and sculpture, is quite unlike others, and one I never tire of visiting. It is in Bulleen, a suburb of Melbourne, and was established in 1981 by art benefactors John and Sunday Reed. Thanks to their ideas and inspiration, the museum is a superb asset to the city, and sits well with the other, larger art galleries in the city centre. I was especially excited to visit this day, as they were featuring an exhibition of Barbara Hepworth sculpture. Hepworth is a British modernist artist and sculptor (1903-1975). > Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth lived for some time in St Ives, Cornwall, England. Cornwall never ceased to inspire her, with its wild coastline and towering rock formations. She loved the massive weathered rocks, eroded over the years, many with gaping holes one could see through. It was this looking through the solid to see the land and seascape beyond which caught her imagination for all her working life. To see videos, and photographs of this woman carving vast pieces of wood or stone was amazing. Hepworth was prolific; working as an artist full-time while having a young family was certainly not usual for her times. A true inspiration for any artist.

Many of the works in the exhibition were Marquettes (smaller sculptures; often produced as prototypes for the proposed larger versions). I was fascinated with Hepworth’s work, and walked around each one, looking at, looking in, and looking through each one.

I loved the shadows that the forms created; from within the carved surfaces to the shapes cast from the overhead lights on the plinths where the work sat.

The sculpture above is from stone, the one to the right is carved from wood, then stained and polished, and the interior painted. This was a piece which cried out to be handled, the moulded wood so smooth and giving off a beautiful sheen – it truly was hard to keep my fingers from stroking it!

There were a number of works where string was strung across an opening, as in this delightful white stone piece with a brilliant blue centre. The red string was a superb addition. What a brilliant intuition this artist possessed. I became a little obsessed with the next image I post: a large stone sculpture. It was within a glass box, and just as well, as my hands would have caressed it all over! I contented my self with peering closely at the sphere cut right through the stone. I was fascinated with how it looked, and how it would have been achieved, the shape and finish honed to perfection.

I am just so pleased I had this opportunity to see Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture and to learn more about her working life.

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