Here the artist Linder Sterling talks about encountering Hepworth's sculpture garden by torchlight on a dark All Hallow's Eve, exploring her sculptures sensually through touch. This Sunday, as part of the Barbara Hepworth Talk Series, Linder will discuss the fasinating links that can be drawn between the ancient healing technique of acupuncture and Hepworth's piercing of her sculptural forms.

My first encounter with the work of Barbara Hepworth was on the evening of Allentide, 2009. Hours earlier I had made a new performance work for Tate St Ives involving local Guise dancers and musicians.  By the time I arrived at the Trewyn Studio, for an event organised by Young Tate, I was still in a post-performance state of heightened sensitivity to all around me. We were each given small hand torches by Young Tate and encouraged to explore the sculptures within Trewyn garden.

There was emphasis given on touching all the works that we encountered and we were reminded that for Hepworth, her left hand was her thinking hand and her right only a motor hand. This reminded me of the string musicians that I’d worked with earlier in the day, their left hands finding the shapes of chord and melody, whilst their right hands bowed or strummed repeatedly. I wandered through the garden, experiencing Hepworth’s sculptures purely by touch, unable to clearly see, aware of the torchlight piercing the darkness much as Hepworth’s hammer and chisel had pierced the stone.

Barbara Hepworth with two of works
Hepworth with two of her works, November 1964



Hepworths scuplture works with a topological correlative that the female form in say Sterling or Ernst for that matter ! does not .In the collages there is a psychological projection- the female form as phallus , 'containing' hidden powers that could deliver or withhold .The beheading (as in say Ernsts collage "La Puberte proche.....ou les Pleiades" 1921 ) the opposite to Duchamps beheading and presentation of the head of the phallus in "Fountain" probably the ONLY gender non specific phallus ! ?