Leeds Art Gallery

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Configuration: Phira

Hepworth, Dame Barbara, 1955, Sculpture: Guarea Wood, 81.3 x 74 x65

Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, the eldest child of Herbert Hepworth, a civil engineer, and his wife Gertrude.  Hepworth attended Leeds College of Art from 1929-21.  Henry Moore was a fellow student and became a friend.  Hepworth then worked in Florence and Rome with her first husband, John Skeaping, carving naturalistic sculptures in stone.  Returning to London in 1928, they took a studio in Hampstead.   In 1931 Hepworth met Ben Nicholson and through his influence moved away from figurative to contemporary  abstract art. With Nicholson she visited Paris and met the European avant-garde.  She and Nicholson became members of  British avant-garde groups, including Seven and Five and Unit One.  In 1939, following bomb damage to her Hampstead studio, Hepworth moved to St. Ives, Cornwall, to a studio in which she lived for the rest of her life. The first major retrospective exhibition of her work was held at Temple Newsam House, Leeds in 1943.  Barbara Hepworth was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1965. <em> Configuration:  Phira</em> was bought by the LACF in 1958.