Finding Magic

“Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic’, wrote Barbara Hepworth. “Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space.”

We had to go into St Ives in May as I had an appointment with the GP about my sciatica. We hummed and hawed as to whether to bother parking up and having a wander and after finding three car parks full we almost went home, but luckily found a spot in the Barnoon car park, high up on the hill by the cemetery. Knowing this meant a steep walk back to the car was a bit off-putting, but we really fancied popping into the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden as we had our lovely Tate St Ives Locals Pass and it really is a lovely place in spring.

The garden is small and often busy, but very beautiful and I enjoy finding different ways to photograph both the flowers and the sculptures. The day was warming up too and we could easily have spent a couple of hours there.

Though concerned with form and abstraction, Hepworth’s art was primarily about relationships: not merely between two forms presented side-by-side, but between the human figure and the landscape, colour and texture, and most importantly between people at an individual and social level.  (Source: Tate )

“I think every sculpture must be touched, it’s part of the way you make it and it’s really our first sensibility, it is the sense of feeling, it is first one we have when we’re born. I think every person looking at a sculpture should use his own body. You can’t look at a sculpture if you are going to stand stiff as a ram rod and stare at it, with a sculpture you must walk around it, bend toward it, touch it and walk away from it.”

Whenever I visit the garden I am acutely aware of the relationship between the planting and the sculptures that sit amongst it. The juxtaposition of shapes and textures, the colours and the forms. I cannot simply walk around the garden. I have to move in one direction to study a sculpture and then another to study it from a different angle. And then again looking at the way it interacts with other sculptures nearby, or plants. It is a small garden, but one of very different moods.

Patterns from the trees and leaves when the sun comes out, dappled shade creating contrasting light and shadow, strong sunlight bleaching the copper verdigris. I want to touch the sculptures, even those that I am warned off doing, so I get as close as I can with my lens to absorb the material, the colour, the skill of the sculptor.

Inside the little studio are several other sculptures alongside climbers, succulents in terracotta pots, an old chair or two, ferns and a Geranium maderense. It feels as though the artist has just stepped out for a while.

Inside was warm and comfortable, a little shabby, I could imagine myself in this space. Potting bench in one corner.

~wander.essence~ photography



  1. What an inspirational place, Jude. I recall one of your earlier posts too. Loved the virtual ramble and getting immersed in the fabulous detail. Can understand why the sculptures beckon so with tactile invitation. Beautiful pics.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Liz. It is a place I rarely visit (St Ives) because of the crowds, but I do like this garden as it is so tranquil and I do like many of the sculptures. The garden seemed much more loved this time too.

  2. beetleypete says:

    It is so nice to see the sculptures in a natural setting, rather than in a sterile exhibition hall. Obviously how Hepworth intended, and the way she wanted them to be seen and experienced.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Sue says:

      I quite agree, Pete

    2. Heyjude says:

      She certainly was prolific Pete. I love the curves and shapes of some of these pieces. I was not that impressed with how the pieces at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park were presented.

  3. Sue says:

    Marvellous! Thanks for the Virtual wander, Jude!

    1. Heyjude says:

      You are most welcome Sue!

      1. Sue says:


  4. Su Leslie says:

    This is a wonderful post Jude. I love Barbara Hepworth’s art, and you’ve shown these works so beautifully in their setting.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Su. They do fit in well here. I love to try and photograph a piece next to a plant that contrasts or matches. (Like the colour of the Agave and the bronze)

  5. Tish Farrell says:

    What a wonderful place. I’ve only seen it on TV progs about Hepworth – so thank you for this virtual visit. A photo-treat. Many commiserations re the sciatica though. Hope it has resolved?

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is the tiniest of gardens considering how many sculptures are in it (and a lot of them are quite large) but somehow it all works. It can get crowded when a tour is on (or a school visit), but we are usually lucky in getting it mostly to ourselves. Of course it helps that we can visit whenever we want to 🙂
      The sciatica is much improved thank you, though it certainly hung around a lot longer than I liked.

      1. Tish Farrell says:

        Glad the sciatica is improved. It seems to come and go on a whim – a very painful one for the sufferer.

  6. Joanne Sisco says:

    This seems like such a soothing place to wander. I like the rounded features of the statues with holes through them. It seems to encourage the viewer to peak through a gain a new perspective – a photographer’s delight.

    1. Heyjude says:

      A small garden with lots of sculptures. Takes me a while to decide how I am going to photograph a piece, and of course it is different depending on the time of year and the light.

  7. Wonderful, Jude! What a serene and inviting place this is. I love the artist’s idea that the observer should be able to touch and interact with the sculptures. You seemed to dance with them in your photography; I love all your angles, the juxtaposition of the sculptures with the plants, and even the shadow of the ferns on the one sculpture. Beautiful photos all around! I’m glad you found a parking space so we could enjoy along with you. Thanks for the link; I’ll link it to tomorrow’s post. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      I shall have to go back in the summer (take the train) and see how different it looks in summer light.

      1. I’m sure it will be beautiful. Enjoy your summer, Jude. To me summer is something to get through – it’s so hot and muggy and buggy here in Virginia, I just want it to be over with. But I must be careful about not wishing my life away. Just trying to make the best of it. 🙂 Again, love your photos, and thanks for sharing!

  8. bushboy says:

    Thanks for letting me pop in with you Jude. I had a wonderful time 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      A pleasure to walk with you Brian. Are you getting geared up for the blue July?

      1. bushboy says:

        Oh yes I certainly am. Lots of ideas yet to be acted upon as well 🙂 How about you Jude 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          Well, mine will be entirely of Cornwall so expect lots of sea and sky views!

        2. bushboy says:

          I have found a few unusual things so far 🙂

  9. jennypellett says:

    One of my favourite places too…

  10. I enjoyed this all the more for recognising many of the pieces from our visit a few years ago.

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