Barbara Hepworth – Pelagos (1946)

One of the few female sculptors during her time to achieve international recognition, Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975) was a modern English artist and a leading figure of her generation. The story of her art revolves around St Ives, a seaside town in Cornwall,  where she moved in 1939 alongside her husband, artist Ben Nicholson, and her three children.  She continued living there even after the divorce, acquiring Trewyn Studio in St Ives in 1949 and building there a community of modern artists.

Pelagos (1946), meaning “sea” in Greek, is a wooden sculpture inspired by the view of St Ives in Cornwall. The hollowed out wood resembles a wave or a shell, while the strings add music and tension to the artwork. Hepworth had always been attracted to music throughout her school years, making it no coincidence that strings became a recurrent motif in her sculptures. “The strings were the tension I felt between myself and the sea, the wind or the hills…” , as the artist herself explained.

Pelagos 1946 by Dame Barbara Hepworth
Dame Barbara Hepworth – Pelagos (1946), elm and strings on oak base

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