THE doors are to be opened to Barbara Hepworth’s former studio for the first time in almost 50 years.

Tate St Ives will be unveiling the Palais de Danse on Friday, April 26, and Saturday, April 27, ahead of a major project to renovate this historic space.

Residents are invited to drop in to the studio located directly opposite Trewyn Studio — now the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden — and hear more about plans to reimagine the building as a community-focused heritage site that continues to expand on Hepworth’s legacy. 

Hepworth carving Palais de Danse in 1961 (Picture Rosemary Mathews) ( )

Constructed on the site of an old naval school, the Palais de Danse is one of the most unique spaces in the heart of St Ives.

Formerly a cinema and dance hall, the Palais was also an important hub for community events during the Second World War and beyond. 

The building was bought by Barbara Hepworth in 1961 to use as her second studio, which gave her the space to create larger and more complex sculptures, including the monumental Single Form (1961-4) commissioned for the United Nations in New York. 

The Palais was gifted to Tate by the Hepworth Estate in 2015 and was awarded Grade II listed status in 2020.

Together, these buildings housed the entire scope of Hepworth's creative work from 1949 to 1975.

Hepworth in Palais de Danse 1963 with unfinished wood carving Hollow Form with White Interior (Picture: Val Wilmer) ( )

A Tate St Ives spokesperson said: “The Palais de Danse is both deeply rooted in community memory and central to Hepworth's artistic legacy worldwide.

“Having remained untouched since Hepworth’s death in 1975, Tate St Ives is now embarking on a major capital project to renovate this significant building with Adam Khan Architects.

“The project will uncover the Palais’s rich history, realise its immense potential for the community and continue its story by securing the building for the long term. 

Barbara Hepworth on the dance floor, Palais de Danse, March 1961. (Picture: Studio St Ives © Bowness) ( Studio St Ives © Bowness)

“Over two days this month, the St Ives community is invited to take a special look at the Palais de Danse, discuss early ideas with the architects and curators, and hear more about the process and future plans that will shape the building’s exciting future as a creative space for local residents to use and enjoy.

“Visitors will be invited to tour the building’s celebrated dancehall and to share memories and photographs of the Palais from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and beyond. 

“Tate St Ives will also be offering tours of the neighbouring Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, providing the chance to explore the full breadth of Hepworth’s life and work in St Ives.” 

Barbara Hepworth with the plaster prototype for Single Form (Memorial) in the Palais de Danse, March 1962. (Picture: Studio St Ives © Bowness) (Studio St Ives © Bowness )

Tate St Ives has been awarded funding towards the transformation of the Palais de Danse from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

It has also received support from a number of trusts, foundations and individuals, including The Headley Trust, The Bowness Family, The Hepworth Estate, The Porthmeor Fund, and The Bridget Riley Art Foundation. 

Barbara Hepworth in the Palais de Danse, 1963 with unfinished wood carving Hollow Form with White Interior (Picture: Val Wilmer © Bowness) ( Picture: Val Wilmer © Bowness)