Barbara Hepworth hardly needs an introduction, her sculptures are arguably a part of our collective visual language - some of them being go to examples of the mid century modern aesthetic. Her personal style and wardrobe have similarly taken on an almost iconic status.
Tate Britain's retrospective of Hepworth's work examines not just her sculptures - ranging from the very beginning to very end of her career - but the environments from which they came from and were made in. Inevitably Hepworth's whole life and lifestyle form a thread throughout the exhibition. With four children (a son by John Skeaping and triplets by William Nicholson) and an impressive career within her own lifetime, motherhood and professional creativity would surely have been at odds, however, clearly Hepworth's practicality, dogged determination and of course talent were enough to bypass an ultimate conflict. Physical practicality both in her studio and home would have been essential and combined with an artistic eye Hepworth's wardrobe could easily be read as contemporary 'utilitarian chic'.
A forerunner of 'authentic' modern style, Margaret Howell designs clothes that, much like those worn by Hepworth are practical, chic and reminiscent of an art student's attire in the 1950s. Of Hepworth the designer has said, 'I connect with her independence, strength and hands-on approach as an artist, but also with her choice of work clothes and the way she wore them'. The two are an obvious style pairing and with Barbara Hepworth in mind, Howell has produced a small collection of nine or so pieces to run alongside the Tate Britain exhibition.
'These pieces were designed to celebrate her spirit and I like to think she would have been happy to wear them’. Anybody at all interested in Barbara Hepworth's work would surely be more than happy to wear any of these thoughtfully made pieces.
All available online and from the Tate Britain shop.www.shop.tate.org.uk Exhibition runs until 25 October. www.tate.org.uk Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World is on until 25 October 2015