The relationship between the two works draws attention to issues important to both artists. Hepworth was a committed advocate for human rights and created the monumental sculpture Single Form for the United Nations building, New York, between 1961 and 1964. As the Tate Curator Chris Stephens has written:
“During the war, social co-operation came to dominate her political position. A passionate advocate of the Welfare State, she came to see integration in small communities such as St Ives as vital to social progress. She saw her own commitment to such a community as a possible answer to the perennial problem of the modern artist’s relationship to society.”
Developed in parallel to her Bothy Gallery exhibition, Reporting to the Landscape by Sophie Ernst comprises sound-tag interpretations of The Family of Man. Sound-tags are temporary audio interventions that play audio snippets of interviews held at YSP over three weeks this spring, with people who came to Yorkshire to seek asylum. The personal accounts reflecting on memory of place give very temporary individual voices to the sculptures, an improvised match of interviewee and installation.
Reporting to the Landscape relates strongly to the commitment of YSP to not only show international art of the highest standard but also to raise awareness of contemporary issues and engage wide audiences. The Family of Man has been on display at YSP longer than any other sculpture and is a highly significant work, being one of the last major installations Hepworth completed before her death in 1975. It is a poignant exploration not only of an individual's journey through life, but humanity as a whole. Ernst’s installation simultaneously gives a voice to those seldom heard and, importantly, combines the sculpture and social missions of YSP.
The installation is made possible through the kind agreement of The Hepworth Estate who recognise the integrity of its intentions. The Family of Man is a foundation stone of the YSP loan collection and Ernst’s intervention reconsiders the question of what is a ‘family of man’ on World Refugee Day.