Work of the Week

Barbara Hepworth
Small Hieroglyph (BH 268)
1959
Stamped '2/10' (on underside)
Polished bronze
10.8 x 10.2 x 8.9 cm
4 ¼ x 4 x 3 ½ ins
Ed. 2 of 10


Price on application


I only learned to love bronze when I found that it was gentle and I could file it and carve it and chisel it. Each one is a 'person' to me...

Barbara Hepworth, 1966

Small Hieroglyph is a characteristic example of Barbara Hepworth's polished bronzes: small-scale, eliciting intimate engagement, and both a product of the casting process as well as finished by hand.

The sculpture captures the spontaneity of natural objects - in this instance a Cornish pebble - along with the potential of bronze as a material that can be worked on so as to produce a highly finished and seamless surface. Of course, it also very clearly features a trace of the artist's hand in the delicate yet purposeful incision made into the elevated segment.

The combination of its small scale, the variety of textures and surfaces rendered, and its brilliant shine, Small Hieroglyph heightenes our tactile awareness. Indeed, this was a concern that frequently informed Hepworth's practice. Discussing the relationship between light and touch, Hepworth mused:

The importance of light in relation to form will always interest me. Light gives full play to our tactile perceptions through the experience of our eyes.

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Small Hieroglyph
Small Hieroglyph