Contemporary Artists and Barbara Hepworth

Discover the contemporary artists responding to Barbara Hepworth's work today

By The Hepworth Wakefield

The Ultimate Form Performance (2013/2013) by Linder SterlingThe Hepworth Wakefield

Hepworth remains a source of inspiration to a younger generation of  artists working today. During the ten years that The Hepworth Wakefield has been open, the gallery has worked with many of these artists to produce new exhibitions and commissions reflecting on Hepworth's legacy

The Ultimate Form Performance (2013/2013) by Linder SterlingThe Hepworth Wakefield

Linder (b. 1954, Liverpool)

Linder encountered the work of Barbara Hepworth while participating in The Dark Monarch exhibition at Tate St Ives in 2009. For her 2013 exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, she produced new work examining both Hepworth’s sculpture and her artistic identity.

Northern Ballet dancersThe Hepworth Wakefield

Linder is particularly interested in the importance of dance to Hepworth, who practiced ballroom dancing and whose final studio, the Palais de Danse, was a former dance hall. 

The Ultimate Form Performance (2013/2013) by Linder SterlingThe Hepworth Wakefield

The exhibition culminated in the first performance of a new ballet with Northern Ballet entitled The Ultimate Form, titled after Hepworth's Ultimate Form figure from her 1970 multi-part sculpture The Family of Man. 

The Ultimate Form Performance (2013/2013) by Linder SterlingThe Hepworth Wakefield

The Ultimate Form took place at The Hepworth Wakefield on Saturday 11 May 2013 and featured dancers by Northern Ballet, choreography by premier dancer Kenneth Tindall, music by Cinematic Orchestra's Stuart McCallum and costume by British fashion designer Pam Hogg. 

Watch an extract from the rehearsal of The Ultimate Form. 

Alice Channer, Invertebrates at The Hepworth Wakefield, 2013. by Alice ChannerThe Hepworth Wakefield

Alice Channer (b. 1977, Oxford)

Alice Channer creates sculptures that address the distortion of materials, often stretching objects to warp their position within the landscape. She uses items such as rocks, clothing, and shampoo bottles, which she then mutates through casting or expanding to monumental scales.

Alice Channer, Invertebrates at The Hepworth Wakefield, 2013. by Alice ChannerThe Hepworth Wakefield

Through the modification of flat surfaces by pleating, curving, stretching and contracting, Channer explores sculptural properties of volume, dimension and weight. Stainless steel, silk, aluminium, Perspex, bronze, elastic, marble, polyurethane resin and hi-tech lamé, are presented as liquids that clot, thin, coagulate, melt and solidify.

Alice Channer, Invertebrates at The Hepworth Wakefield, 2013. by Alice ChannerThe Hepworth Wakefield

Channer created a new body of work for 2013 exhibition Invertebrates at The Hepworth Wakefield. The work was inspired by invertebrate jellyfish, squid and other deep-sea boneless life forms.

In 2009 Alice Channer wrote about Hepworth: 

‘while moving around Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures and writing about them, I am aware of them framing me as I am framing them. What interests me in Hepworth’s work now is the way in which it can make
relationships like these between people and objects happen in the present.’

Find out more about Alice Channer and Linder's exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield in this video.

Particles (2017) by Veronica RyanThe Hepworth Wakefield

Veronica Ryan (b. 1956)

Between 1998 and 2000 Montserrat-born British artist Veronica
Ryan undertook an artist residency based at the Palais de Danse in St Ives and created new sculptures from some of Hepworth’s unused marble gifted by the Hepworth Estate.

During her time there, Ryan made a series of works that responded to Hepworth’s sculpture, the Cornish landscape and to her own interests in interior and exterior forms, identity and place. A number of these pieces have since joined existing works by the artist in the Tate collection and Arts Council Collection.

In 2017 Ryan undertook a residency at The Art House in Wakefield. As part of the residency, The Art House and The Hepworth Wakefield co-commissioned a new work inspired by Hepworth. 

Particles (2017) by Veronica RyanThe Hepworth Wakefield

This new work Particles was developed as part of The Art House Change Makers residency programme with support from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield. Particles was displayed in the exhibition Masterpieces by Barbara Hepworth in 2017.

Find out more about Ryan's sculptural practice in this interview during her 2017 residency at The Art House.

Between Two Bodies (2020) by Rosanne RobertsonThe Hepworth Wakefield

Rosanne Robertson (b. Sunderland, 1984).

Robertson’s practice spans sculpture, photography, drawing and performance to explore the boundaries of the human body and its environment. In 2019 Robertson was one of five Associate Artists selected as part of Yorkshire Sculpture International. Paired with The Hepworth Wakefield, their body of work created during this period titled Stone (Butch) was exhibited within the display of work by Barbara Hepworth. 

Robertson, like Barbara Hepworth, is interested in the physical relationship between the body and the landscape. Stone (Butch) explored gender and sexuality in the natural landscape of West Yorkshire, with a new film work and surface casts of the Bridestone rock formations.

In this video find out more about Rosanne Robertson's 2019 work Stone Butch, created as part of  Yorkshire Sculpture International.

Between Two Bodies and The Island by Rosanne RobertsonThe Hepworth Wakefield

Robertson relocated to West Cornwall at the beginning of 2020, shortly before UK lockdown, after being selected as a short-let tenant at Porthmeor Studios. They produced a new body of work during this specific moment in history, when tourists were absent from St Ives and its streets resembled the quiet town, similar to the environment Hepworth would have experienced in the 1940s.

In 2020 The Hepworth Wakefield acquired new works by Robertson  produced during their time as studio holder at Porthmeor Studios. The acquisition was made possible through the Contemporary Art Society's Rapid Response Fund.

Robertson’s new work, Packing, looks at the terrain of the Queer body in the seascape, its caves, openings and overspills. Robertson articulates their interest in exploring connections between their own body and the rhythms and forms of the landscape as transcending  ‘a marginalised Queer history based on colonial and western homophobic and transphobic ideas of being deemed “against nature”’.

Between Two Bodies (2020) by Rosanne RobertsonThe Hepworth Wakefield

Packing is a three-part work comprising a sculpture, a video and a large-scale drawing. The video documents a performance showing Robertson inserting their body into the natural rocky landscape at Godrevy Point near St Ives. The sculpture Between Two Bodies is made from plaster casting directly from cracks in the local rock formations.

The Island (2020) by Rosanne RobertsonThe Hepworth Wakefield

The large charcoal, gouache and graphite drawing,The Island, references the so-called 'Island' at St Ives, a small peninsula between St Ives harbour and Porthmeor beach. The drawing depicts a bodily island, partly submerged and drawn automatically from the experience of swimming around coves, rocks and caves.

These new works are a continuation of ideas Robertson explored in Stone Butch and demonstrate an ongoing interest in Barbara Hepworth’s deep connection to the landscape.

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