Barbara Hepworth sculpture redisplayed at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus
A sculpture created by Dame Barbara Hepworth has returned to display at the heart of the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus after months in store. Winged Figure sits in a new case at the entrance to the refurbished library, which protects the piece while showing it off to advantage. ‘Now everyone can see and enjoy one of the most important pieces in our collection by visiting Lancaster library,’ said Laura Baxter, curator of the university's Vallum Gallery in Carlisle.
The sculpture is a maquette or miniature of the larger sculpture called Winged Figure on the outside wall of John Lewis’ Oxford Street store. John Lewis commissioned Barbara Hepworth, one of the best known British sculptors of the twentieth century, to make them a piece in 1962; Winged Figure was unveiled on 23 April 1963. Hepworth, who moved towards a more abstract style in the 1930s, described it as ‘a bird-like form, about to take off’ (Bowness, The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69).
The sculpture has a special connection with St Martin’s College, a legacy institution of the University of Cumbria, which makes its return to public display particularly welcome. Dr Hugh Pollard, the first principal of St Martin’s, loved the arts and was keen to make the new college an inspiring place for staff and students. Pollard had what he described as a passion for Hepworth’s work, so he urged a student who lived near the sculptor to ‘call upon her and tell her of S. Martin’s College’. The student secured a piece for the cost of the materials only, and an anonymous donation enabled the college to make the purchase in 1968. Since its arrival it has been displayed in various locations on campus.
In redisplaying Winged Figure at the heart of the Lancaster campus library, the university recognises and celebrates an important part of its heritage. ‘This is a great way to start preparations for the university’s Tenth Anniversary, which will celebrate our past, present and future,’ said Sandra Booth, Pro Vice Chancellor, Enterprise, Business Development and Engagement.