This is one of several sculptures owned by the Tate Modern in Saint Ives, in the English county of Cornwall, of the renowned artist Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975). And not only that, but it is one of her creations most influenced by that same place in Saint Ives where she lived for many years, since she settled there with her second husband Ben Nicholson (also an artist) to get away from World War II.
Pelagos by Barbara Hepworth
In fact, both were the seed of a group of artists who lived in this town, where some of the most representative works of post-war art in Great Britain were created.
Without going any further, this wood carving made by Barbara Hepworth in 1946. The artist titled this work as Pelagos, which is a Greek word that we can translate as sea, and he wanted to represent Saint Ives Bay itself, giving the wood a shell-like shape similar to that of the landscape where he lived until his death. And the two ends of the hollowed-out wood are joined by ropes that come to be a metaphor for the tension that the author felt towards that sea and the wind.
The fact is that Hepworth is one of the few women in British (and European) post-war art who achieved recognition widespread by the international community. In fact one of his greatworks is his sculpture Single Form in front of the United Nations Headquarters.
And although this creator was twice married to two artists and had several joint exhibitions with other sculptors, she had a special reputation and stood out from many other artists of her generation. And she was actually compared to Henry Moore, who she also worked with on more than one occasion. Among other things, because they were two of the artists who best worked stone in the mid-20th century. So much so that she did not lack commissions from her and over time she had to create an artists' workshop with renowned collaborators.
Something almost prodigious, being a woman in a world of men. And as if that were not enough, working from a small coastal town on the westernmost peninsula of Great Britain. That is why Hepworth's activity in Saint Ives is one of the main reasons why today, there is a Tate Modern headquarters with works of great importance on the British and international scene, since names such as Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian or Max Ernst, among many others, appear in its exhibition.