5 May 2020

BarbaraHepworth_TheHands_1948_oilandpencilonpanel_38x51.4cm.BristolCultureBristolMuseums_ArtGallery_Bowness_530x@2xBarbara Hepworth drew The Hands 1948  – although in 2020 it’s the masks we notice as much as the hands. The Hepworth in Wakefield writes here: ‘Following the hospitalisation of their daughter Sarah in 1944, Hepworth and her husband, the artist Ben Nicholson, struck up a friendship with Norman Capener, the surgeon who treated Sarah at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter. Through this friendship, Hepworth was invited to witness a variety of surgical procedures at Exeter and the London Clinic. Over a two-year period, 1947–9, Hepworth produced around 80 works within the series. As well as pencil, ink and chalk drawings, many were executed in both pencil and oil paint on board [as was The Hands]. Impressed by the close connection she felt between her art and the skilled craftsmanship of the surgeon, Barbara Hepworth was particularly fascinated by the rhythmic movement of hands during the medical procedures unfolding before her.’ There is a book about The Hospital Drawings by Nathaniel Hepburn, available from the Hepworth.