Two Forms (Maori) is one of a group of around sixty slate carvings made by Hepworth in the 1960s and 1970s that are characterised by a smooth, highly polished finish and a richness of colour. Many are two or three part works on a relatively intimate scale. The first of Hepworth's sculptures in slate, Carving (Mylor), 1962-3, is said to have been carved from the top of a billiard table probably made of Welsh slate. Shortly afterwards, Hepworth was introduced to the famous Delabole slate quarry in north Cornwall. Delabole slate has been used as a building material for over 600 years. Hepworth's friend, the St Ives architect Henry Gilbert, was able to use his contacts to obtain slate for her at Delabole. 'Heart slate' from beds deep in the quarry was most suitable for carving. As she told Alan Bowness, 'I found out that if they quarried very deeply in the slate quarry here at Delabole (in Cornwall) they could get a reasonable thickness for me, and a very fine quality - much finer than the top layers which are used industrially. So every time they come across what they consider a sculptor's piece, they telephone me. The slates from these deep beds are very beautiful' (quoted in conversation with Alan Bowness (ed.), The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, London, 1971, p. 8).
Maori titles for further sculptures by Hepworth include Two Piece Marble (Rangatira) (BH 465) from 1968-9 and the lignum vitae Makutu (BH 499) from 1969, subsequently cast in a bronze edition (BH 505) in 1970. Although Hepworth did not visit New Zealand, she was clearly intrigued by the country and owned a Maori picture dictionary from which she would have seen that Rangatira is a chief or person of noble birth while Makutu is a spell or incantation. While the present sculpture clearly has Maori influence, it also has echoes of violin-shaped cycladic figures.
Two Forms (Maori) will be included as BH 405 in the catalogue raisonné of Hepworth's sculpture, currently under revision. It has the artist's orginal wooden base, painted black and lacquered. A number of the slate pieces are in public collections, for example Two Forms (Menhirs), 1964, in the Tate collection, Three Personages, 1965, in Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, and others at the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.
Sir Anthony Lousada who was left Two Forms (Maori) by Hepworth in her will was a member of Council of the Royal College of Art from 1952-79, being Treasurer from 1967 until 1972 and Chairman from 1972 to 1979. He was also a member of the Council of the Friends of Tate Gallery from 1958-94, being Treasurer from 1960 until 1965 and Chairman from 1971 to 1977. In addition, he was a Trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1962 to 1969, being Vice-Chairman between 1965 and 1967, and Chairman between 1967-9. He was also Vice-Chairman of the Contemporary Art Society from 1961 and 1971.
We are very grateful to Dr. Sophie Bowness for her help preparing this catalogue entry.