'Clayton’s book may be unusual in that she avoids the British biographical tradition of combining amateur psychoanalysis with elevated gossip. But it is perfect on its own terms, dissecting Hepworth’s thoughtful writing, the technicalities of her changing sculptural practice, the demands of motherhood and her ambition and seriousness. What emerges most powerfully from Clayton’s study is the importance of female friendships and loyalties in Hepworth’s life'
'Clayton, drawing on a cache of unpublished letters that Hepworth wrote to a small group of her closest female friends, puts the other side of the story. The woman whom you will meet, rather than being the steely Stakhanovite of cliché, is also a mother in post-natal crisis, struggling to care alone for a trio of toddlers, agonising over which was the right course to take. The reader taps into her desperation as, confined to a dingy London flat with her newborns, she cries “for days on end”'
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times
'This biography’s value and novelty are level-headedness and fine-grained research. Clayton explains rather than exculpates, narrates rather than judges. She sets Hepworth talking through the pages, quoting generously from letters … The book’s illustrations (nearly 200 of them, mostly colour) bring together a lifetime’s vision …The pages glow and thrum with stringed bronze, humped wood and bored stone, with cool white plaster scooped and painted'
'Through both the book and exhibition we gain a sense of Hepworth as a strong, clear-headed figure moving back and forth within a set of influences: her beloved children, her lifelong faith as a Christian Scientist, romantic love, music, her interest in the spiritual realm and her fascination with materials and the natural world'
Hettie Judah, The i
'Well-researched and richly illustrated… Having access to previously unavailable private correspondence, Clayton provides a fascinating account of Hepworth’s yearning to bridge the gap between her art and life by finding harmony, rhythm and balance within materials ... This book will vividly illuminate hitherto unknown aspects of her life and prolific art practice, and will be an inspiration to many'
'Thoughtful and enjoyable… The biography’s many excellent illustrations, aligned with relevant passages of text, have helped Clayton put together a comprehensive account of Barbara Hepworth’s talent and determination'
'This biography – and the exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield – extends throughout her career, shedding new light on her interests and relationships, and how the artist held conflicting ideas and forces, and made sense of them through her work'
'Wonderful illustrated biography'
'This new book by The Hepworth Wakefield’s curator Eleanor Clayton reveals a multifaceted life informed by dance, music, poetry and theatre, as well as science and technology. Complete with in-depth sketchbook annotations, drawings, paintings and in-progress documentary footage, it fully brings the artist’s world to life'
'Eleanor Clayton is the author of this exemplary biography of the artist. With clarity, modesty, and skilled appreciation, she tells the story of Hepworth’s life and work in a way that can be equally enjoyed by specialist and general reader alike'
Lord Harries, Church Times
'Anybody who likes her sculpture in bronze, wood and stone, and the life she found in them, will want to see this fully illustrated account of her work and to read her correspondence'
'A fascinating and significant contribution to the existing body of Hepworth scholarship'