Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

One way of Interpreting this Sculpture

Resource created by Leeds Museums and Galleries | Leeds Art Gallery.

This resource is part of the Museum Snapshot collection - a collection of smaller resources perfect for starters, plenaries or spare moments to explore something fascinating.

This artwork is a medium sized sculpture made from a type of rock called Ancaster stone, an oolitic limestone that can be quarried in Lincolnshire.

Investigation into the word 'Hieroglyph' tells us that it comes from joining ‘hieros’ meaning sacred and ‘glyphein’ meaning to carve. Egyptian hieroglyphs are a picture based writing system used in Ancient Egypt. It is interesting to ask – what did the artist want to say through the name she gave her sculpture? Or, what might be the link between hieroglyphs in Ancient Egypt and an artwork called Hieroglyph?

Hieroglyph, sculpture,1953, Ancaster stone by Barbara Hepworth
Hieroglyph by Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth thought very hard about the materials she was using to make her sculptures. Thinking about their qualities helped her decide what to make. It was as if the materials, in their texture, weight, colour, marks or density, had a vocabulary that told her what to do. At the time this was a new way of making sculpture. She was also interested in what happens when you experience a sculpture in a particular place.

'I'm sick of sculptures in galleries and photos with flat backgrounds... no sculpture really lives until it goes back to the landscape, the trees, air and clouds.'

Thinking about this we could ask, how does a sculpture affect or be effected by the space around it?

This artwork could make a link to the ancient past showing how sculpture is a form of picture-writing telling us things in a similar way to the Egyptian hieroglyphics. It could help us think about the vocabulary of materials. Or, it might make us notice sculpture communicates. What do you think?


Activity Ideas

See 'Supporting Links' in 'Resources' for helpful websites connected to the following ideas:

  • Make a sculpture by carving soap 
  • Find out about rock using the BBC Bitesize website 
  • Be a rock detective - watch the You Tube video by Sci Kids 
  • Learn about the artist Barbara Hepworth
  • Investigate other resources on MyLearning linked to rocks and also different artworks