Thursday, 20 September 2012

A room of one's own

One of my favourite places to visit in St Ives is the Barbara Hepworth museum and sculpture garden. Babs lived and worked here until her death in the early seventies. It is the most calming and beautiful place to go and visit. Obviously the sculptures are magnificent, and although quite monolithic, sit without fuss or ego in the garden she created. They have aged alongside the plants that surround them, and as their colour and patina has weathered with time, they seem to me like rare and unusual varieties waiting to be stumbled upon and admired.

One of my favourite parts of the garden is the tiny summer house. There is a bed made up with white linen and a pale blue throw. It is tucked away from the studio and main part of the garden. Peering through the window is kind of voyeuristic for me. I can imagine her in repose, reading, writing or just sleeping off the gin. I would love one of these comfy sheds in my garden. I have a conservatory/playroom with a very comfortable sofa. But wouldn't it be great to have a little place of ones own to escape to, hidden in the garden amongst the plants. You get the feeling that only Ms Hepworth was allowed to venture inside. Clearly a very sensible woman.

Her living quarters were sparsely furnished during her lifetime, and they are now given over to some of her smaller works, although some furniture remains. It is white and wooden and bare. I love it. I am given over to clutter, but this space clears the mind and I always feel calm and centred when I enter. It's like yoga if it were a room.

This week, The Tate (which curates the Babs museum) was offering free activities for under 5's, so Olly and me went. Any excuse to go. The weather was perfect - a crisp, sunny Autumn day. We made a butterfly to go in the garden. We also made dream stones. Barbara has one in her garden. Now Olly and me have two little ones that I will treasure forever. Olly is really a bit too young to fully engage in activities of this sort, but he loved using the glue, and he was clearly very proud of the end results when he showed them to Nanny later in the day.

He touched the sculptures; ran his hand along them, peeked through them and climbed around them. He sat quietly by the pond, and smelt some of the flowers. We held hands along the crunchy gravel path and played hide and seek. I adored the time Olly and me shared together today. It was fun. It was an adventure. It was local. It was free!!

Of course I forgot my camera, but Jenny  from bookgroup took this for me. Thank you Jenny xx

Our wishing stones.



  1. Just lovely - and I wish that I had a summer house too x

  2. wonderful! I still remember making a paper mache Thunderbirds house thingy with my boys in the garden, and lots of other creative stuff then they washed the worst of it off in the paddling pool! and no mess in the house.
    I do not have a summer house, but my studio is my personal retreat.