30/10/2020Blue Plaque for Barbara Hepworth’s London Studio
- Sculptors Barbara Hepworth and John Skeaping honoured at London home and studio
English Heritage has unveiled a new blue plaque today (30 October), commemorating one of the 20th century’s greatest artists and ground-breaking sculptor, Barbara Hepworth, alongside her first husband and critically acclaimed fellow sculptor John Skeaping. The new plaque will mark the 24 St Ann’s Terrace in St John’s Wood, where Hepworth and Skeaping lived in 1927 and where they held a joint exhibition (Hepworth’s first ever) in the studio at the back of the house. It was in this studio – a former billiards room – that Hepworth created one of her earliest Mother and Child sculptures, a motif that recurred frequently in her work throughout the 1930s.
Though Hepworth and Skeaping stayed in the basement flat at St Ann’s Terrace for less than a year, her time there in particular marked a significant period in her early career, when she experimented with hard-to-carve materials that included pieces in exotic Italian marble, and created works including Doves, Seated Figure and Mother and Child. The last two were bought by the art collector George Eumorfopoulos, the first person to attend their studio exhibition after two weeks with no visitors.
Senior Historian at English Heritage, Howard Spencer, said: "Barbara Hepworth and John Skeaping’s time at 24 St Ann’s Terrace, represents a significant period in their early development as artists and we are delighted to be able to commemorate them both today. Although Barbara Hepworth is more readily associated with Cornwall and Yorkshire, north London was her base in the early part of her career, right up to the Second World War."
Sophie Bowness, Barbara Hepworth’s granddaughter, said: "It is very fitting that the Blue Plaque should jointly commemorate Barbara and John, whose work and life were fundamentally interlinked at this time.
"This is where the two young sculptors held their first exhibition in the studio and its runaway success launched Barbara’s career. She carved her first mature sculptures here, works such as the superb marble Doves."
Nicholas Skeaping, John Skeaping’s son, said: "Perhaps my father would have told English Heritage not to bother with a Blue Plaque but I think he would have had an inner glow that he and Barbara should be publicly acknowledged in this way."
Other 20th century artists commemorated by the London Blue Plaques Scheme include Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Francis Bacon.
To find out more, including how to nominate someone for a blue plaque, visit: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/
The English Heritage London Blue Plaques scheme is generously supported by David Pearl, Knight Frank and members of the public.