Two works by Hepworth can be seen in the open air at YSP: The Family of Man, 1970 and Squares With Two Circles, 1963.
The Family of Man, 1970 is a beautiful representation of figures in the landscape and is one of the last major works Hepworth completed before her death. Family is not only a universal survey of humanity but also a personal history. The sculptures become more sophisticated in composition as they mature, from Young Girl at the bottom of the hill, through Bride and Bridegroom and finally Ultimate Form. Hepworth chose not to create literal representations of the world but developed abstract forms inspired by people and landscapes. These nine upright figures resemble one another, like the family to which they allude.
Hepworth’s first love was carving, and even when creating a piece for casting, she would hack into the plaster leaving surface marks and textures, as is evident in Squares With Two Circles, 1963. The sculpture’s appearance seems to change depending on time of day and year: sometimes it appears to frame its landscape context, at other times it reflects sunlight and seems almost golden. This work beautifully illustrates Hepworth’s repository of forms and ideas, notably the free use of geometry without strict rules, the exploration of interior and exterior and the subtle use of colour in the blue patination.
Although Hepworth stated that she was much more interested in how colour was applied, as opposed to the choice of colour, her studio in Cornwall overlooked St Ives bay and she spoke of the sense of containment and security she felt when she observed the Celtic Sea. She described how she gained great inspiration from Cornish land and seascapes and ‘the quality of light and colour which reminds me of the Mediterranean light and colour which so excites one's sense of form’. This outdoor space celebrates the career of one of the most extraordinary artists of the 20th century.