1903 – 1975
“I had to do some work every day, even at midnight, because either you‘re a professional or you’re not.”
Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth DBE
Born Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1903 died 1975 in St Ives (in house fire age 72).
Married John Skeaping 1925-33 then Ben Nicholson 1938-51.
Attended Leeds School of Art alongside Henry Moore and both went on to the Royal College of Art. Both, for the time unusual, practised direct carving.
During her stay in Italy 1924-6 she married Skeaping, later remarrying Ben Nicholson. She and Nicholson made European travels where they met many abstractionists including Braque, Mondrian, and visited the studios of Picasso, Brancusi and Jan and Sophie Arp, which is reflected in their own modernist work.
They moved to St Ives at the outbreak of war and it became their permanent family home. Her studio and sculpture garden is now a popular visitor centre.
Her first public commission was in 1949 for the Festival of Britain. She took on assistants Denis Mitchell, John Wells, and the painter Terry Frost, to carve the Contrapuntal Forms. She was inspired by the composer Rainier, who introduced her to the contrapuntal music of the English Renaissance with the fantasia of Orlando Gibbons.
Hepworth actively documented her work and pushed her career, representing Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1950, winning first at the Sao Paulo Bienal in 1959 and organising her own retrospective at the Kroller-Muller Museum in 1965.
During her life she made over 600 sculptures.
Contrapuntal Forms is outside the Glebelands Flats.