Barbara Hepworth’s drawings are on display at The Hepworth Wakefield

December 4, 2012

Barbara Hepworth, famously renowned for her abstract sculptural work, exhibits a different side to her practice in the current exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, Barbara Hepworth:The Hospital Drawings. The collection to date features over 30 works including some making their debut appearance in Wakefield, where her sculptural work is permanently exhibited, fittingly in the city she was born and grew up in.

The drawings of surgical scenes, created through a process using Ripolin Paint and pencil, were made in Post-War Britain during the late 1940’s, and reflect the close connection between art and the surgeon’s expertise, precision and craft. The harmonious nature of the images highlight the craft and concentration in an operating theatre. Such images were produced alongside the launch of the NHS, clearly influential to Barbara Hepworth who supported ideas of social cooperation and the reconstruction of Britain to develop a fairer, more inclusive society.

The drawings are not obviously linked with her more famous sculptural works, though Group1 (concourse) is exhibited alongside the 2D work. From this it is clear that the sculptural qualities of the arrangement of the surgeons correspond with the piece, but maybe more importantly relate to Hepworth’s lifelong study of the human figure in landscape, in this case the landscape being the surroundings of an operating theatre. Group1 (concourse) is one of 3 sculptures within the exhibition, with a large collection of the drawings as a backdrop.

You can see Barbara Hepworth: The Hospital Drawings at The Hepworth Wakefield until the 3 February 2013.