'Single Form (Memorial)', on southern side of boating lake, Battersea Park, London Borough of Wandsworth


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
South of Boating Lake, Battersea Park, London, SW11


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Statutory Address:
South of Boating Lake, Battersea Park, London, SW11

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Wandsworth (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


'Single Form (Memorial)' by Dame Barbara Hepworth, executed 1961-62. This edition was cast for erection at Battersea Park in 1963-64. Founder: Morris Singer Ltd.

Reasons for Designation

The sculpture of 'Single Form (Memorial)' by Dame Barbara Hepworth, of 1961-62, cast and erected at Battersea Park in 1963-64, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Artistic interest: a sculpture of high artistic and aesthetic quality in scale and form, cast fluidly in bronze from a plaster prototype, subtly detailed and well-composed;

* Historic interest: as a piece by an internationally renowned sculptor, acquired by the local authority for Battersea Park on the advice of a national body; and for its historic association as a memorial to her friend, the UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld;

* International association: as the model for an exceptional piece commissioned by the Blaustein Foundation for the UN building in New York and for its association with the other identical 'Single Form (Memorial)', which stands at the John Hopkins University Nitze School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC;

* Group value: for its location within a registered park which includes another listed sculpture 'Three Standing Figures' by Henry Moore (National Heritage List for England no. 1357691).


The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20 however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.

Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Philip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new - often industrial - materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and "ready mades" (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.

'Single Form (Memorial)', a fully abstract piece by British sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth, is one of three iterations of this work. It was used as the model for developing her most prestigious international commission, by the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, of a 6.5m high 'Single Form (Memorial to Dag Hammarskjöld)', which stands outside the United Nations Secretariat building in New York (erected in June 1964). Dag Hammarskjöld was Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953-61 and a friend of Hepworth's, who admired her work. He died in a plane crash in Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) en route to a peace mission to the Congo on 18 September 1961. She explains to her biographer "when I heard of his death, in a kind of despair, I made the ten-foot (3.12m) high Single Form (Memorial). This is the same theme as Single Form (September), 1961, a walnut carving, but the hole is moved over and now goes through the form. Memorial was made just to console myself, because I was so upset" (Bowness, 1971, pg. 10).

The plaster prototype of 'Single Form (Memorial)', executed in October 1961-February 1962, was displayed at an exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery held in May-June 1962. A bronze cast of the sculpture was completed afterwards by Morris Singer Ltd, to be exhibited as part of London County Council's (LCC) Battersea Park 'Sculpture: Open-air Exhibition', which was held from May-September 1963. During the exhibition, at which Hepworth and others admired its lakeside setting at Battersea, it was described as "deeply moving" by the Builder Magazine and as "a calm and self-contained identity that is singularly moving in its props and surface" (Cavanagh 2007, pgs. 292-3). The exhibited sculpture and plinth (cast 1 of 2) was shipped in October 1963 to Jacob Blaustein, who funded the UN 'Single Form'. This now stands at the John Hopkins University Nitze School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. A second cast of 'Single Form (Memorial)' was ordered from the foundry in March 1963. On the advice of The Advisory Body on Art Acquisition this was purchased by the LCC for a permanent site in Battersea Park, with the sale agreed on 2 December 1963, for the sum of 6,000 guineas (equivalent to £6,500). The sculpture was completed in June 1964 for erection at a new site, its current location, without ceremony, on the south side of the lake.

Hepworth (1903-1975) grew up in Wakefield, Yorkshire and studied at Leeds School of Art in 1919 before transferring to the Royal College of Art, London in 1920. She won a scholarship to study abroad in 1924 and moved to Italy with John Skeaping, the sculptor (to whom she was married from 1925-1933). It was during the early 1930s that she simplified her forms to the point of complete abstraction, encouraged by Ben Nicholson, her second husband (until 1951). They moved to Cornwall in 1939 and her studio at the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St Ives is included in the Register of Parks and Gardens at Grade II (NHLE no. 1001488). She was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1968, in recognition of her achievement as a sculptor.


'Single Form (Memorial)', executed October 1961-February 1962 by Barbara Hepworth. This edition was cast in October 1963-June 1964 for erection at Battersea Park. Founder: Morris Singer Ltd. MATERIALS: the sculpture is cast in bronze and sits upon a bronze self-base. A sandstone raked block fixed with an inscribed bronze plaque is centrally set in front of the sculpture and self-base.

DESCRIPTION: 'Single Form (Memorial)', is a freestanding, smooth-edged, flattened ovoid abstract form with a rippled surface, and a circular aperture off-centre near its head. It is set on grass by the southern edge of Battersea Park boating lake. The sculpture measures 3.12m in height by 2m in width and 25.4cm in depth. It sits upon a shallow rectangular self-base measuring 8cm in height by 1.22m in width and 91cm in depth.

The self-base, integral to the sculpture, is signed and dated on its upper surface, at the rear north-western face of the sculpture, by Hepworth in a handwritten style: Barbara Hepworth/Oct 1961-Feb 1962. A founder's mark is incised below on the rear north-western face, of the self-base: Morris/Singer.

A rectangular raked block and fixed plaque, centrally set in front of the southern face of the sculpture, is inscribed in white capital letters:



Barbara Hepworth Museum , accessed 12 October 2015 from http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives/barbara-hepworth-museum
Bowness, S (ed), Barbara Hepworth: The Plasters: The Gift to Wakefield, 2015, Lund Humphries
Cavanagh, T, Public Sculpture of South London, 2007, 292-293, Liverpool University Press
Hepworth, B, Hepworth: A pictional Autobiography, 1985, Tate Publishing
Stephens, C et al, Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World, 2015, Tate Publishing


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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