7 August 2012

All form, no function

Our culture packed stay in Cornwall continues with a visit to Barbara Hepworth's house and studio.  I think this is my third visit in as many years, but unlike some of the other gems in the mecca for artists that is St Ives, I am in no hurry to return.  The house is charming, and reminds me of both Kettles Yard in Cambridge and Hoglands, Henry Moore's home in Perry Green, but it is lacking soul.  It is hard to imagine it as it once must have been, bustling with life and creativity, as the sculptures, studios and tools are all gently being overwhelmed by cobwebs and dust.  I am sure the guardians of the estate would proclaim otherwise, but the whole place feels gently stale, and dead.  Even in the gardens, which I remembered favourably, her sculptures only succeeded in underwhelming me.

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, St Ives, Cornwall
I've thought about this long and hard, and am hesitant to admit my true feelings as her work is so well revered, but admit it I must.  I find myself increasingly drawn to the world of Applied as opposed to Fine Art, and think that, for me, the allusion to function, specifically function by, or connection to, the human body is essential.  A few days previously I visited the Newlyn Art Gallery to see Shezad Dawood's solo exhibition, Piercing Brightness.  The visitors book  wasn't all complimentary (the main complaint being painting on found textiles did not equal Art!), but I was instantly attracted to the combination of painting on vintage, quilted textiles.  The potential of a function (as a quilt, or cover) allowed me to connect with the work on a personal level.  And that, for me, is a vital ingredient.

Rock of Ages, acrylic on vintage textiles
Shezad Dawood 2010
Rock of Ages (detail), acrylic on vintage textiles
Shezad Dawood 2010

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