I’m Andrew Neilson and I’m an archive cataloguer here in the Tate Archive. My main responsibilities involve organising and describing our archive collections, a job in which I take great pleasure as it offers me the chance to work closely with a variety of interesting items. One such item is this volume of sculpture records compiled and collated by the artist, Barbara Hepworth, which is my choice of treasure from our 1972 acquisitions. Hepworth became a major figure in British sculpture and a pioneering force in British modern and abstract art. She trained at Leeds College of Art, from 1920-21, and the Royal Academy of Art in London, from 1921-23, both times training alongside Henry Moore, a friend and major influence on her work. Hepworth was also a lynchpin in the community of artists who lived and worked in post war St Ives. Throughout her life Barbara Hepworth kept photographic records of her work, providing details of the sale and exhibition of each piece. Together, these records form a forty-five volume archive, documenting 50 years of her work. I have chosen volume thirty-two which includes the records of Winged Figure (1962), a piece commissioned by the John Lewis Partnership for their flagship store on London’s Oxford Street. As a collection, TGA 7247 provides a comprehensive catalogue of Hepworth’s sculptures and offers an insight into her diligent approach to the documentation of her work. This collection is further complemented by our holdings of Barbara Hepworth material in TGA 965, TGA 200313, TGA 200314, and TGA 200415. Here one can view personal correspondence, prints, models and material relating to a documentary film made about Hepworth’s work, entitled, ‘Figures in a Landscape: Cornwall and the Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth’ - a piece I find particularly interesting as it places Hepworth’s work in the context of the Cornish landscape that inspired their creation.
Winged Figure is a perfect example of art which has become part of the urban landscape. Can you think of any interesting sculptures in your local area?
Written by Andrew Neilson