Barbara Hepworth: In Equilibrium

Barbara-Hepworth-Sculpture-with-Colour-and-Strings-1939-1961This summer Heide Museum of Modern Art will present the first major survey in Australia of the celebrated British artist Dame Barbara Hepworth DBE (1903–1975). A leading figure of modernist sculpture in Britain in the 20th century, Hepworth is best known for her organic abstract sculptures and pioneering method of ‘piercing’ the form.

Presented at Heide from 5 November 2022 to 13 March 2023, the exhibition Barbara Hepworth: In Equilibrium brings together more than forty works from significant international and national collections, introducing Australian audiences to Hepworth’s enduring oeuvre and remarkable story.

Presented throughout Heide’s main galleries, the exhibition charts the trajectory of Hepworth’s artistic career, from early figurative carvings through to large-scale purely abstract forms in stone, wood and metal.

The exhibition will feature works on loan from the collections of Tate Britain, The Hepworth Wakefield and the British Council, as well as prominent Australian and New Zealand public collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand.

“It is with great pleasure that Heide brings together works by one of the most important artists of the 20th century, many never-before-seen here in Australia,” said Heide Museum of Modern Art Director Lesley Harding.

“The exhibition reflects our commitment to foregrounding modernist women artists and is the result of extensive research and support from national and international organisations and the Hepworth Estate, as well as the assistance of many Heide benefactors.”

A key figure of mid-century avant-garde European art, Hepworth’s pioneering practice enriched the language of modern sculpture. While the artist’s early works featured figurative and naturalistic forms, her sculptures would become increasingly simplified and abstract.

Highlighted in the exhibition is Hepworth’s significant exploration of the interplay between mass and space and her dynamic opening up of the interior of the work to make space into a form in itself.

This technique of ‘piercing’ the form exemplifies Hepworth’s revolutionary contribution to the development of new sculptural vocabularies that influenced not only her contemporaries, but future generations of sculptors.

Central to Hepworth’s practice was the influence of nature, with the artist inspired by the coastal landscape of St Ives in Cornwall, where she lived and worked for much of her career. From the movement of tides to the ancient standing stones of west Cornwall, the artist’s later sculptures are grounded in references to patterns and forms found in nature.

Heide Museum of Modern Art Head Curator Kendrah Morgan said: “A true innovator, Barbara Hepworth’s contribution to the evolution of modern sculpture cannot be underestimated. Hepworth’s combination of reductive form, timeless materials and a humanist vision is compelling and enduring.”

Heide has enlisted award-winning Melbourne-based architecture practice Studio Bright to design the exhibition, producing a thoughtful and elegant scheme that subtly references Hepworth’s preference for ovoid shapes and attention to textured finishes.

Sensitive to her exploration of weight, space, colour and form, the exhibition design also plays on the productive tensions found in Hepworth’s sculptures in her search for a sense of unity, harmony, and equilibrium.

Barbara Hepworth: In Equilibrium brings together more than forty artworks by British artist Barbara Hepworth, in what is a rare chance for Australian audiences to experience a major survey of one of the world’s greatest woman sculptors.

Taking modernist sculptor Barbara Hepworth’s fascination with masses, voids, piercings and hollows as points of departure, Heide will present an exhibition titled wHole in Heide Modern from 12 November until 13 March.

This exhibition will explore the enduring interest that artists have in the phenomena of openings and absences. In both a material and metaphorical sense, the works on display address modes of representation and abstraction.

wHole brings together a diverse range of transhistorical and transnational artists alongside an exciting series of new commissions by leading contemporary Australian practitioners. Like a portal into a new world, the exhibition draws upon the manifold approaches to ‘the opening’ in art to contemplate the multiple dimensions of space-time, experience and imagination.

Exhibition artists include Rushdi Anwar, Kushana Bush, Consuelo Cavaniglia, Lucio Fontana, Mira Gojak, Rubaba Haider, Robert Jacks, Anish Kapoor, Titus Kaphar, Lindy Lee, Gordon Matta-Clark, Noriko Nakamura, S.J Norman, Rosslynd Piggott, Norma Redpath, Ricky Swallow and James Tylor.

Barbara Hepworth: In Equilibrium
Heide Museum of Modern Art, 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen
Exhibition: 5 November 2022 – 13 March 2023
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Barbara Hepworth, Sculpture with Colour and Strings, 1939/1961, Barbara Hepworth © Bowness