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If you’re planning a trip to St Ives and Carbis Bay this side of summer 2023, there’s an intriguing new art exhibition to add to your itinerary. Tate St Ives are hosting a landmark retrospective on iconic sculptor Barbara Hepworth, who lived and worked in St Ives from the Second World War to her death in 1975.

Find out more below, including how to visit Hepworth’s studio, spotting her work about town, and where to stay to bring you as close as possible to the pioneering woman who became a figurehead of British modernism.

About the exhibition

Hepworth At Trewyn Studio 1957 Photo Studio St Ives 2MB
Hepworth at Trewyn Studio 1957. Photo Studio St Ives, courtesy of Tate St Ives 

‘Barbara Hepworth: Life & Art’ will be shown at Tate St Ives from 26th November 2022 – 1st May 2023. Combining over 50 sculptures as well as paintings, drawings and archive material, it will show the special significance of St Ives on her international career.

According to Tate St Ives, this major exhibition will “emphasise how the area’s rugged landscape and close-knit artistic community became important sources of inspiration.” This inspiration spurred Hepworth on to create work such as Single Form, which was unveiled outside the United Nations headquarters, New York, in 1964. The full-size plaster prototype for this work was created in St Ives; a little connection to Cornwall which remains in Manhattan to this day.

Beyond the show

Barbara Hepworth Stringed Figure (Curlew), Version II, 1956. Tate. Photo © Kirstin Prisk
Barbara Hepworth Stringed Figure (Curlew), Version II, 1956. Photo – Kirstin Prisk, courtesy of Tate St Ives

The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is on the site of her old studio, tucked away in the winding lanes of St Ives. Tragically there was a fire in the studio in 1975 which claimed Hepworth’s life. The site became a museum and now shows her working process, and the incredible garden contains many impressive sculptures.

This garden is one of the most special places to visit in St Ives. Hidden behind high walls, it’s a peaceful and awe-inspiring space to while away a few hours.

Around town

Barbara Hepworth Stringed Figure (Curlew), Version II 1956. Tate
Barbara Hepworth Stringed Figure (Curlew), Version II 1956. Courtesy of Tate St Ives.

You can also see many instantly recognisable Hepworth sculptures in public spaces around St Ives. There’s one outside the Guildhall (Dual Form, 1965) and another at The Malakoff (Epidaurous II, 1961).

Madonna and Child in St Ives Parish Church is a poignant tribute to Dame Barbara’s eldest son Paul, who was killed in a plane crash in Thailand in 1953.

Why to stay in St Ives when visiting Tate St Ives

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Walk in the footsteps of the St Ives artists during your stay

There’s a plethora of great accommodation options within an easy walk of Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Below we’ve handpicked some of our holiday cottages with links to the artistic past and present of St Ives.

Guillemot – Set over four floors, this soulful cottage was once the home of the renowned abstract artist Terry Frost. An inspiring, light-filled space in the heart of old St Ives.

The Balcony Studio – Looking to add to your art collection whilst in St Ives? This luxurious bolthole for two is the ideal base for which to explore the many galleries of the town. Historically it was home to famous artists, writers and sea captains, and was a hub for many renown artists who came to paint the incredible view, hence it becoming known as a studio, the “balcony” studio.

Bethesda – This unique and very pretty cottage boasts interior features built by a local sculptor and joiner using reclaimed wood from ships and driftwood. There’s a wonderful ‘surprise’ balcony tucked away in the eaves with views over the harbour.

Bay View House – New to our portfolio for 2022, Bay View House is a just a short stroll from both the Tate and the Barbara Hepworth Museum. The interiors have the feel of an artist’s residence, with original artwork and a lux bohemian style.

Sandpiper – Sleeping six in three bedrooms, Sandpiper boasts spectacular views overlooking Porthmeor – views it shares with Tate St Ives which is literally steps away. The décor is a perfect combination of luxurious and cosy; this is one of our most popular cottages for family stays in St Ives.

5 Piazza – Artist Bryan Peace lived next door to 5 Piazza until he died in 2007. These apartments were popular with the art crowd as they enjoyed stunning views over Porthmeor Beach and were close to the St Ives School of Painting and Porthmeor Studios. In the courtyard of the Piazza apartments you’ll even find a Barbara Hepworth sculpture hidden away!

12 Barnaloft – New to our portfolio for 2023, 12 Barnaloft is in a prime position overlooking the sands of Porthmeor Beach. This collection of apartments was the bohemian hang-out of the 1960’s art community in St Ives, with Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Bernard Leach and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham all living or working there at various times.