St Ives is made up of a ramble of cobbled and paved streets which intersect between one harbour or another.

It can be quite dis-orientating getting around. The lanes are small and the cottages are right on the pavement side.

This is part of the magic of St Ives for me because you know that behind those doors are private spaces and courtyard gardens and things to glimpse of other people’s lives.

And so it is with Barbara Hepworth’s old home and studio. It is tucked fairly anonymously on the corner of a back street and straight in the door and up some stairs is her living space just waiting like she’s popped out to buy milk.

It has a special atmosphere about it especially sad when you know that she died during a fire in her studio aged seventy-two.

I love this piece of advice “I found one had to do some work every day, even at midnight, because either you’re professional or you’re not.” Barbara Hepworth

You can’t photograph the inside of the house but the museum has left her studio outside intact with plaster maquette’s, work clothes and tools, just as if she is still about to walk in and continue.

The garden (even on a rainy day) is full of bird-song (and the obligatory seagulls) but you can’t see St Ives at all, it is a little haven.

Lots has been written about her life and times but the thing I find fascinating was the relationship between Barbara and her second husband who was Ben Nicholson – he was married to Winifred Nicholson when they met!

She explored the qualities, colour and texture of the different stones and woods she used.


She pursued the idea that it was her job to release the ‘life’ of the material and a show its ‘essential’ qualities.

“Hepworth said there is an inside and an outside to every form. Many of her sculpture
explore both solid shape and open space. She carved into and through her sculptures
to explore both the inside and the outside. She liked to pierce, tunnel and hollow out
her forms.  Tate guide.


I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body – Barbara Hepworth – and I think that is why this place still has such a special feeling about it.

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