Although Barbara Hepworth was recognised during her lifetime as one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century, the work in the open air setting of YSP was a revelation and demanded reappraisal. The landscape of the Park provided the finest background for the work and it was unlikely that it had ever looked better out of doors. Works were placed discreetly around the edge of a 200-year-old lawn and among trees and shrubs. Several other pieces were arranged along the Formal Terrace, with The Family of Man, 1970 (all nine pieces) dramatically sited on Hillside, with large open landscape behind.
Dame Barbara Hepworth was born and educated in Wakefield. It is almost too much of a coincidence that Wakefield, the hometown of one of the world’s greatest sculptors, should also be associated with the first permanent Sculpture Park in Britain. An exhibition in her hometown was a timely gesture to the memory and great achievements of Hepworth. Building on the overwhelming success of the 80th birthday exhibition of Henry Moore’s sculpture, held at Cartwright Hall in Bradford in 1978, the Hepworth exhibition, at the time, was one of the most popular exhibitions ever held in this area.