Vertical Form (St Ives) By Barbara Hepworth With Reflections

Vertical Form (St Ives), a bronze sculpture, with reflections
Vertical Form (St Ives) in the window of the Barbara Hepworth Museum

I do like this picture, although it has as many accidental elements as purposeful ones: layers, patterns, textural contrasts and red herrings.

Although I lined the sculpture up reasonably well with the r/h edge of the frame, the reflections make it look all catawampus. That doesn’t just allow me to use the word my sweetheart taught me (we would say ‘skew whiff’) but it also makes the picture seem more abstract. That seems fitting.

I tried cropping closer, but prefer the picture with the distractions in. They have an unsettling effect and they provide context for a bronze sculpture that has St Ives in its name.

I suspect the reflections of the houses humanise the bronze more than if the clean lines of a gallery were behind it. The sculpture seems to gaze out, watchfully or wistfully.

The colour combination is muted – natural stone, grey, plus a languid take on the traditional blue and white that symbolises Cornwall – helping the gleaming sculpture hold its own visually in the gallimaufry.

The ‘background’ in this case passes in front of the object and appears to lie behind it creating a mild optical illusion we hardly perceive at first glance.

My favourite parts of the photo are the reflections in the hollows of the bronze.

Find out more about Vertical Form (St Ives) on The Tate’s website.

Shared for the 2020PhotoChallenge. HeyJude’s instructions this week are:

Find something smooth and get up close.

31 Replies to “Vertical Form (St Ives) By Barbara Hepworth With Reflections”

  1. Catawampus! 😳 Love it! I have been to the sculpture garden several times but never noticed this sculpture in the window.

  2. I think the technical term for what this did to me is “brain wilt.” This image is like something tangled in the time-space continuum, and I have no idea what I’m looking at. Nonetheless, I vote “wistful.” There is something weirdly fitting about the Venetian blind window — maybe a hint of the wistful there too.

  3. You’re on a roll with catawampus and gallimaufry in a single post. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary conjectures that the ‘askew’ sense of catawampus is by folk etymology from catercorner. As for gallimaufry, the American Heritage Dictionary offers this etymology: “French galimafrée, from Old French galimafree, sauce, ragout : probably galer, to make merry; see GALLANT + mafrer, to gorge oneself (from Middle Dutch moffelen, to open one’s mouth wide, of imitative origin).”

  4. Fantastic photo! To me, it looks like a gleaming android face with one eye. Too much Dr. Who? At any rate, watch out when you walk by. 😉

      1. Not on the channels that we get. We recently finished last year’s season, and we are looking forward to the current season, which, as you indicated, just ended for you.

  5. I like the way you’ve photographed the sculpture – so that there’s a contrast between the sleek shape of the sculpture and the rougher nature of the building.

  6. Beautiful image – very smooth and interesting to read your thoughts on it. Thank you for a new word – catawampus!

  7. I love your capture of the Sculpture – it is such a serendipitous coming together of lovely elements.

    Thank you for talking us through your thought process & for the introduction to another artist. Lots of exciting learning for me.

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