St ives

The well of happiness – and despair: Queer St Ives reviewed

In the winter of 1952 the 21-year-old sculptor John Milne travelled to St Ives in Cornwall to take up a temporary job as an assistant to Barbara Hepworth. The arrangement was that he would become her pupil in exchange for helping her in the studio, but he was subsequently paid a small salary and ended up staying in her employ for two years. By this time, Milne had decided to settle in the town, which had become a thriving modernist artists’ colony, and in 1956 he acquired Trewyn House, a three-storey Victorian property next door to Hepworth’s studio. The reason a working-class boy from Eccles could afford so substantial a

How St Ives became Barbara Hepworth’s spiritual home

‘To see a world in a grain of sand’, to attain the mystical perception that Blake advocated, requires a concentrated, fertile imagination. Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), one of the leading and most popular British sculptors of the 20th century, fervently imagined that her works expressed cosmic grandeur and her own spiritual aspirations. In the foreword to this thoughtful and enjoyable biography, Ali Smith testifies that Hepworth was ‘fiercely intelligent’, while its author, Eleanor Clayton, candidly declares: ‘I write as a curator who loves the artist she presents, a fan writing of her hero.’ Her research shows how frequently the sculptures convey ‘concepts [Hepworth] considered universal and eternal’. Clayton, eminently qualified as