Terrace Restaurant sculpture by Barbara Hepworth

A sculpture resembling waves in the British Library Terrace Restaurant

Look at this bronze sculpture for long enough and you’ll be transported to the rugged beauty of the southwest coast of England.

You’ll find it sitting towards the back of the outdoor area of the Terrace Restaurant on the First Floor.

The sculpture, Oval Form (Trezion) (1962–63), was created by Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975), who was a leading pioneer of abstract, naturalist sculpture in the 20th century. After her death, her studio became the Barbara Hepworth Museum, now incorporated into the Tate St Ives.

Hepworth had a visceral response to her surrounding landscapes, whether it was the curvature of sloping hills in her native Yorkshire, or the Cornish coastline where she later lived and worked. The shapes, forms and textures of these landscapes were fundamental to her work. She claimed: ‘I the sculptor am the landscape’.

In 1939, Hepworth moved to St Ives in Cornwall and set up a studio there. She became an important figure in the town's prominent artistic community. Here, Hepworth was inspired by the geography, geology and history of Cornwall’s coastal landscape, particularly the sea, as seen in this sculpture.

Trezion is named after the house that Hepworth lived in with her husband, overlooking St. Ives. It reflects the rugged beauty of the stormy southwest coast that inspired her so much. The spiraling oval shapes suggest waves, caves, shells, and other features of the natural landscape.

The tactile quality of sculpture was very important to her, as you can see from the textured surface and green/brown staining which evokes the rough coastline.

Meanwhile, the contours and curves bring to life the rhythm and movement of the sea. To Hepworth, rhythm was the essence of carving, both in the appearance of the finished sculpture and also as an integral part of its creation.

Contributed by Catherine Smith

This artwork (shelfmark BLWA 77) was a gift of Helen Sutherland to the British Museum, 1965, for display in the new British Library and transferred to the Library by the Trustees, 1990.

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