Barbara Hepworth’s abstract sculptures, with their purity of form and material, have become iconic symbols of the modern era. They emerge almost organically from the artist’s hand and assume a comfortable position within whatever context they are placed.
To mark the opening of a major retrospective of the artist’s work at Tate Britain this July, designer Margaret Howell has crafted seven pieces inspired by the artist’s working wardrobe ranging from a pair of dungarees to a smock top and silk scarves.
Inga Fraser one of the assistant curators of the upcoming Tate exhibition says of Hepworth, “Her early work was all about truth to material, allowing the material to shape the form of the sculpture itself, and her dress represents that. She dedicated herself completely to her art and had no qualms about being photographed in the clothes she wore to work in. It helped her to be taken seriously.” Howell echoes these concerns when talking about her own process of making, “I’m inspired by the authenticity I can find in nature, people and places, and I think it is the same quality I look for in the materials I choose. For example, the feel of hand–woven Harris tweed and the irregular slub of Irish linen. I feel passionate about landscape, and its connection with such fabrics and the skilled people who weave them.” In this way there is a pleasing accord between the two makers. Howell is equally committed as Hepworth was to honouring material through form and function. This purity of intention that defines and unites both artists is also what makes their work so desirable both to view and wear.
The major retrospective of Barbara Hepworth’s work opens at Tate Britain on 24 July 2015.