The air shimmered with heat, rank with the sharp tang of cacti and dessicated earth. Shapes flowed and flourished everywhere, both in stone and plant. Not a garish hue in sight. All sage, sorrel, ochre and white. Above all white. Soothing, glowing, framing everything else. Pots, bricks, tiles- all took on a pleasure and life of their own. I felt I was walking in to a painting. To my now adult eyes, I feel that it felt like walking in to an Eric Ravilious watercolour. All contours and softened curves. Though only six years old at the most, I was transfixed. Here, more than everywhere else in the museum that was a house, was sculpture. Art. Creativity. It turned me on.
The chair was an open invitation. Sitting, my back warmed by sun-heated iron, I first saw it. A scuplture in pale stone. A wave arrested mid-lift, about to crash, its peak bowing forward with expectation. It was alive and flowing, yet captured in solid rock. My eyes stung with looking, and on closing left me with an imprint of that wave form. I so clearly recall the deja-vu. The realisation that my eyes and hers had shared a moment. That terrible, seductive surrender to a wave, that lifting of the body with the effortless power, only to be pitched under and tumbled every which way on to the beach. It spoke to me of bodysurfing, or rather the fraction of a second before leaping in. All this happened in long, vivid seconds, my brain flooded.I was achingly, tinglingly alive.
Who was this woman who knew my mind? I was sat in her chair, placed as if she had just vacated it and might return at any moment. Was she a sculptor, or a witch? How could she have made me understand, feel, so much? Twenty Seven years later I realise that this is the beauty of Barbara Hepworth, and her seductive museum. It was, is and will be inspiring. A creative place. That rarest of rarities. Living art. A museum in which one can touch, can truly appreciate the exhibits. It is a magical place. I have visited it countless times, yet this first remembered discovery is etched in to me. Or rather carved. It lit something within me that still burns bright and fierce. The joy of seeking out beauty and forms, be they natural or manmade. I am a starer, and that heady, wonderful moment in the studio trained and honed my eyes like telescopic lenses. For this I am truly grateful, because it was a beginning. A quickening. An awakening.
© Tom Tide 2016