• Grid
  • List

Collections> Browse > Figure: Churinga

Collections> Browse > Figure: Churinga

studio view
Courtesy Walker Art Center
studio view Image Rights
Image Rights
studio view
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Copyright retained by the artist


All content including images, text documents, audio, video, and interactive media published on the Walker website (walkerart.org) is for noncommercial, educational, journalistic and/or personal use only. Any commercial use or republication is strictly prohibited. Copying, redistribution, or exploitation for personal or corporate gain is not permitted.

For information on the use of reproductions for publishing and/or commercial use, please contact rights.reproductions@walkerart.org.

Figure: Churinga
overall 52-½ × 16 × 15-½ inches
Not on view

Object Details

Accession Number
Physical Description
wood form with center opening screwed to wood base
Credit Line
Gift of the T. B. Walker Foundation, 1955

object label Barbara Hepworth, Figure: Churinga (1952) Walker Art Center, 1999

There are fundamental shapes which speak at all times and periods in the language of sculpture… . The forms which have had special meaning for me since childhood have been the standing form (which is the translation of my feeling towards the human being standing in a landscape).–Barbara Hepworth, 1955

Churinga is a word of Austral derivation referring to a wood or stone object carved by aboriginal tribes in central Australia and believed to be sacred. It represents the bond between an individual and his or her totem ancestor. In this work, Hepworth has developed a spiritual icon by piercing the solid mass of a bent cylinder of wood, thereby penetrating to the core or life of the material.

The hole, or elongated slot, as exemplified in this piece, is a convention that Hepworth and her contemporary Henry Moore consistently employed in their works, and it is one of their unique contributions to sculpture. The effect of light upon the exotic mahogany of this piece causes shadows and contours to swell, contract, and disappear as the viewer moves around it.

Walker solo exhibition: Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Drawings, 1955

Label text for Barbara Hepworth, Figure: Churinga (1952), from the exhibition Art in Our Time: 1950 to the Present, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 1999 to September 2, 2001.

Copyright 1999 Walker Art Center