Barbara Hepworth moved to Cornwall in 1939 with her husband, the artist Ben Nicholson, and their three children. Constraints on space eventually led her to look for a separate place to work in, and in 1949 she bought Trewyn Studio, in the centre of St Ives. Initially intending only to work there, she began to live in the studio in 1950 after the breakdown of her marriage; it remained her home and workplace until her death in 1975.
The studio is a simple, two-story building beside a small garden whose high walls give it a private and meditative air despite being surrounded by a busy town. Hepworth initially used the garden only as a workspace but over the decades, with the help of friends and studio assistants, she reworked it extensively, cutting out new beds, making pathways and adding many new plants. The garden became a continually evolving exhibition where visitors could see her sculpture in bronze and stone, but also where Hepworth herself could look at, and think about, her work. Photographs of her garden, disseminated from the 1950s onwards, helped to create a firm association between Hepworth’s abstract works and the natural world. The studio and garden opened to the public in 1976.