Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Hills, The Valleys, The River, The Sea

The summer's Barbara Hepworth exhibition may have been a bit underwhelming but one exhibit that caught my attention was a display of sketches for sculptures intended for Waterloo Bridge.  Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's design had incorporated four plinths but they were left empty after the bridge was completed in 1942.  When a competition was eventually held in 1947 Hepworth submitted four landscape-related designs: The Hills, The Valleys, The River, The Sea.  But the judges rejected her ideas and those of three other artists: 'the result of the competition was disappointing and we do not consider that any of the four schemes submitted can be adjudged suitable for the position that they are intended to occupy.' 

I won't add much more here because an excellent blog post on these designs has already been written by John Wyver at Illuminations.  You can also go to the Tate website for a detailed account of them by curator Chris Stephens and see the maquette and three sketches.  These images are under copyright so I can't include them here - instead I give you probably the most boring image ever embedded on this site.  My photo makes you wonder whether sculptures on this relatively small scale, attempting to project a sense of the whole landscape through which a river passes, would just have got lost among the cars and commuters.  But we cannot know as they were never made.  It is just possible that they could have caught something of the world beyond this unreal city and brought solace to all those weary people flowing over the bridge 'under the brown fog of a winter dawn'.

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