In The Frame

A helping hand for Hepworth from London's dockers

Hepworth carving a wooden sculpture in 1963

A strike by London dockers in 1954 proved a blessing in disguise for the artist Barbara Hepworth, an exhibition of whose work will be a highlight of Tate Britain's 2015 programme. The sculptor's work is now on show in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, including Configuration (Phira), 1955 (until 28 September). On loan from Leeds Art Gallery, the piece is accompanied by the story of how it came to be carved out of the scented wood from Africa. When samples of Guarea wood arrived from Nigeria at Tilbury she faced a headache getting them to her studio in St Ives in Cornwall. The smallest sample weighed three quarters of a tonnes, and the largest two tons.There were 17 tonnes in total. “Mercifully,” she wrote, the strike allowed her breathing space to organise transport of the “lovely timber”.

From In The Frame
Published online: 01 August 2014

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