Collection NameHepworth, Barbara
Reference Number (click the number to browse all records in this collection)TGA 202016
TitleLetters from Barbara Hepworth to Margaret Gardiner
Extent1 box
Access StatusOPEN
LocationManuscript collection
DescriptionThis small collection of ninety letters and cards from Barbara Hepworth to Margaret Gardiner attests to one of Hepworth's long-standing friendships and confidants. These letters complement the other side of the correspondence i.e. Margaret Gardiner's letters of a similar time span to Barbara Hepworth found in her archives (TGA 20132)

This cache of letters particularly illuminates Barbara Hepworth's work and ideas.
ArrangementThe letters have been dated and organised in sequence by Alan Bowness. We kept his order with some date suggestions made by Sophie Bowness as well. You can find information in the date note field regarding whose date has been used or wether the two conflicted in any way. Some of the letters have been dated with their content or envelope.
FormatDocument - writings
Administrative HistoryBarbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, on 10 January 1903. After attending Wakefield Girls' High School, she studied at Leeds School of Art (1920-21) and the Royal College of Art, London (1921-24). In 1924 she went to Florence on a West Riding Travel Scholarship, where she married John Skeaping in 1925. For a year they lived at the British School in Rome, where Skeaping was a Rome Scholar in Sculpture, before returning back to London. In 1927 the couple had their first studio exhibition at their flat in St Ann's Terrace, St John's Wood. Shortly after, they moved to 7 The Mall, Parkhill Road, Hampstead, where Hepworth would remain until 1939. Between 1930-32 Hepworth and Skeaping became members of the London Group and the 7 & 5 Society.

In 1929 Hepworth and Skeaping's son Paul was born. However, their marriage was slowly deteriorating, and they were divorced in 1933. In 1931 she met Ben Nicholson who was married to Winifred. Three years later she gave birth to triplets, Simon, Sarah and Rachel, and finally married Nicholson in 1938. Hepworth and Nicholson became members of Abstraction-Cr?ation in 1933 and Unit One in 1934. After some joint exhibitions with Ben Nicholson, Hepworth held her first one-person exhibition in 1937 at Alex, Reid & Lefevre, London.

Ben Nicholson was Barbara Hepworth's second husband, they met in 1931 and later married in 1938. They had triplets: Sarah, Rachel and Simon Nicholson in 1934 and moved with the family, following an invitation from Adrian Stokes and his wife Margaret Mellis, to St Ives at the outbreak of war in 1939. In 1942 they moved to Chy-an-Kerris, Carbis Bay, where Hepworth was able to make sculpture again. Together they were influential in the modernist art movement in St. Ives and helped to establish the Penwith Society of Arts. In 1949 Hepworth bought Trewyn Studio in the town, where she lived for the rest of her life after her divorce from Nicholson two years later.

Margaret Gardiner (1904 - 2005) was a radical modern British patron of artists and resident of Hampstead, London, from 1932, where she was also a left-wing political activist. She was also for a time the partner of Professor John Bernal, the eminent scientist and political activist. She devoted her time and energy to supporting her friends: Barbara Hepworth, Hepworth's second husband, Ben Nichoslson, W. H. Auden, Berthold Lubetkin, Naum Gabo and others. She spent a large part of her life away from London on Rousay, Orkney, as a retreat. She was the founder, in 1979 of the art gallery Pier Arts Centre in Stromness. One of the works there is Curved Form (Trevalgan), 1956 by Hepworth in 1956 which Gardiner kept on display in her back garden in Hampstead. The work, named after a hill in Cornwall, between Zennor and St. Ives, was Hepworth's first entirely bronze work. Gardiner gave 67 works of art to the people of Orkney and Curved Form now sits outside on the Centre's pier on the original plinth from Gardiner's garden.
Acquisition SourcePresented by Sir Alan Bowness, 2020
Custodial HistoryMargaret Gardiner as a gift to Barbara Hepworth's son-in-law, Sir Alan Bowness on the understanding that they be passed on to an archive repository at his discretion
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