Photographing Barbara Hepworth’s Garden

 

IMG_0140

IMG_0121_1Up the steep cobbled Back Lane in St. Ives, Barbara Hepworth’s studio and garden look out past the church tower, over the ‘island’ of the old town and across the harbour.  It is an idyllic spot, open to the ever-changing Cornish skies and full of verdant foliage and exotic shrubs – amidst which the smooth organic forms of Hepworth’s sculpture sit in comfortable splendour.

IMG_0127

The bronze or marble forms might look exquisitely pure in a minimalist whitewashed gallery space or within a modernist architectural piazza, but they truly come alive in the small jungle of this garden, interacting with the twisting stems and softly undulating leaves, the reflections of the lily pond and the dappled light filtering through a network of interlaced branches.

IMG_0138_1

The texture of the sculpture – a perfectly smooth outer shell, the interior moulded or chiselled with a bright greenish patina – reflect the contrasts of rough bark and succulent shiny green leaf.

IMG_0163

The pierced forms – the negative volumes giving the heavy materials their vitality and apparent weightlessness – allow the garden to be viewed afresh through each new frame, like a Claudian

IMG_0166

glass.  Some perform elegant arabesques like metallic ribbons dancing on the wind, while other sit solid and motionless like ancient totems, in eloquent contrast to the transient spring leaves and flowers.

IMG_0123_1

The vibrant red clusters of Japonica on their twiggy branches complement the coppery turquoise patina in the colours of a woodblock print; the pink-tinted camellia blossoms and their glossy leaves display their delicate allure against a hard bronze backdrop.

IMG_0152

Slender bamboo stems form a curtain behind a zen-style arrangement of angular polished bronze forms on pale gravel.  A greenhouse shelters plaster studies surrounded by dusty cacti and geraniums.

IMG_0129

Meanwhile the seagulls screech hoarsely and a dark grey cat dozes unconcerned on a cushioned windowsill in the pale north-easterly sunlight.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s