One of the greatest artists of the 20th century, the late sculptor Barbara Hepworth has been honoured with a blue plaque at her former London residence, which also served as her first-ever studio.
English Heritage unveiled the new plaque — which also commemorates Hepworth's former husband and fellow sculptor, John Skeaping — in October 2020 at St Anne's Terrace in St John's Wood. Despite living here for less than a year, the months in 1927 that Hepworth spent in west London as a newly-wed 24-year-old, fresh from her studies in Rome, marked a crucial juncture in the development of her practice.
It was here, in the former billiards room of a basement flat, Hepworth created one of her first Mother and Child sculptures, which became a recurring motif of her Modernist sculptures the following decade.
The studio's also where Hepworth held her first exhibition, a joint show with Skeaping. With no visitors during its first fortnight, the exhibition looked to set be a total flop, but influential art collector George Eumorfopoulos came to the rescue, buying two of Hepworth's sculptures.
Hepworth and Skeaping later moved to Hampstead where they both continued to make art, with Hepworth eventually leaving Skeaping for abstract painter Ben Nicholson. After the outbreak of the second world war, the couple left London for St Ives, which now boasts its own Barbara Hepworth museum.
This new plaque is part of English Heritage's attempt to shift the huge gender imbalance of their blue plaque scheme. Earlier this year a plaque honouring second world war special agent Christine Granville was installed in Kensington, while another for fellow female spy Noor Inayat Khan popped up in Bloomsbury. Helen Gwynne-Vaughan — botanist, mycologist, and women’s corps leader — also got her own plaque here in 2020.
You can find Hepworth's plaque at 24 St Anne's Terrace, St John's Wood, just a short walk from St John's Wood tube station. Hepworth's magnificent outdoor works can be found in various locations around the capital, including Battersea Park, the gardens of Kenwood House, and the on the side John Lewis & Partners building on Oxford Street, (yep, really).