Today’s animated Doodle celebrates the life and work of English abstract sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth, widely considered one of the mid-20th century’s most impactful sculptors. On this day in 1939, Hepworth arrived in St. Ives, a town on England’s southern coast, where she established her studio and lived for the remainder of her career.
Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on January 10th, 1903 in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, and by the age of 15, she knew she wanted to become a sculptor. She enrolled at the Leeds School of Art, where she began a mutually influential lifelong friendship with fellow sculptor Henry Moore, and then attended the Royal College of Art in London. While her early work incorporated classic elements, by the 1930s she had shifted to wholly abstract pieces, among the earliest such sculptures crafted in Britain.
As depicted in today’s Doodle artwork, Hepworth was one of the leading practitioners of “direct carving,” a technique by which the sculpting process is influenced by the qualities of the raw materials, rather than a preconceived model. Her work is frequently marked by a sensitive, organic quality and a signature focus on the interplay between mass and empty space.
Among her many accolades, Hepworth was awarded the Grand Prix at the 1959 São Paulo Bienal, and for her invaluable contribution to British art was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1965. Hepworth’s more than 600 sculptures remain a testament to the unique power of art to reflect the timeless values of humanism and natural beauty.
Thank you, Dame Barbara Hepworth, for using your art to help carve a path toward greater harmony within our society and environment.