While never abandoning the desire to develop the sculpture directly with her hands, Hepworth devised a working method by which she could both carve and cast to fully realize these large-scale works. Using an expanded aluminum armature, Hepworth then covered the structure in large quantities of plaster which could then be carved directly. This application of plaster resulted in a surface, as seen in the present cast of Garden Sculpture (Model for Meridian), that retains the heavy incrustations of the sculpted plaster form, somewhat reminiscent of the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti. Once cast, Hepworth’s intricately worked surfaces were further enlivened with the application of variegated colored patinas. Alan Wilkinson notes that "Stylistically, [Hepworth] was able to create more linear, open, transparent forms that would have been impossible to realize in stone or wood. She was also able to work on a much larger scale. Having her sculpture cast in bronze in limited editions meant that she could reach a much larger audience, as many more sculptures were available to museums and private collectors" (A. Wilkinson in ibid., p. 29). As was the case with her fellow British sculptor Henry Moore, as opportunities to sell and exhibit her works arose, Hepworth’s sculptures grew in size.
The form for Meridian was born from the public commission for the State House in London in 1958. The final fifteen-foot sculpture that graced the entrance of the building from 1960 until 1990 was Hepworth’s first and long-desired monumental sculpture to be cast in bronze. Abraham Marie Hammacher discusses the form: "Seen from a distance, Meridian…is graphic in character, yet at close quarters the effect is three-dimensional lineation which seems conceivable and capable of execution only in bronze" (A. M. Hammacher, The Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, New York, 1968, p. 117). Garden Sculpture (Model for Meridian) is the result of the intermediary stage in the move towards the monumental version, retaining the linear form and iconic feel of Meridian on a human scale, and carrying with it Hepworth’s abiding explorations of the relationship between sculpture and the natural world. Other casts of Garden Sculpture (Model for Meridian) can be found in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London and New College, Oxford.
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