‘Barbara Hepworth’ by Eleanor Clayton

Oliver Soden at The Guardian:

This biography’s value and novelty are level-headedness and fine-grained research. Clayton explains rather than exculpates, narrates rather than judges. She sets Hepworth talking through the pages, quoting generously from letters that correct, or complicate, previous accounts of her humourless self-absorption. A passionate and stylish correspondent, Hepworth makes strings of her words: “one’s mind is so turned towards France & the weather & winds & sea!”; “the feel of the earth as one walks on it, the resistance, the flow the weathering the outcrops the growth structure, ice-age, flood”. Clayton uses letters to show again and again how Hepworth doted on her children. On parting with the triplets: “it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to think about. I am so deeply happy about the babies & want them with me all the time”. This confirms what Hepworth’s work had already made clear: motherhood and family nourished and inspired her. Many of her sculptures of babies are exquisitely tender, the infant’s skull properly outsized and somehow translucent, as if veins pulsed beneath wooden skin and marble bone.

more here.