Barbara Hepworth and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

I thoroughly enjoyed writing about Barbara Hepworth and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s friendship for the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust.

Barbara Hepworth (1903-75), Figure and Mirror, 1948
pencil and gesso on board, 45 x 35cm (c) Bowness

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Diaries

The article is based on Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s diaries of 1940 and 1941 which have recently been transcribed. They cover the key period of her arrival in Cornwall from Edinburgh to beginning to establish herself as part of the St Ives artistic community. Amongst the first people she met was Barbara Hepworth, who had moved to nearby Carbis Bay from London shortly before the outbreak of World War Two. The diaries provide an intimate glimpse into the group of modernist artists, including Naum Gabo and Ben Nicholson, who gathered in the area at this time.

Figure and Mirror by Barbara Hepworth

Although Barns-Graham recorded in her diary that she had studied Nicholson’s work rather than that of Hepworth, a friendship developed between the two women. Indeed, when Barns-Graham married the architect and urban designer David Lewis in 1949, Hepworth gave her the drawing Figure and MIrror of 1948, seen above, as a wedding present. It is a beautiful work which Barns-Graham kept for the rest of her life.

The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Collection

Figure and Mirror is to be sold as part of the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Collection by Lyon & Turnbull (where I now work part-time) on 28 October 2021, in order to support the grants programme administered by her Trust. The catalogue can be viewed here and the sale can be found here. My article, entitled ‘Figure and Mirror: Barbara Hepworth and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’ can be read here.

For more about Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and her Trust, you might like this feature. This article is about the Hepworth Research Network, of which I am a member.

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