Hepworth studied at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. In 1924 she travelled to Italy on a scholarship to study the techniques of marble carving. Her first major exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1928 consisted mainly of stone carvings of figures and animals. From 1932, after she carved her first holed sculpture, Pierced Form (which was subsequently destroyed during the Second World War), her work became entirely abstract. Hepworth moved to St Ives, Cornwall in 1939 and lived there for the rest of her life. In the early 1940s she began to use string to explore the tension or space within a sculpture. Toward the end of the decade, figurative references were reintroduced in her work, and from the 1950s onwards she worked predominantly in bronze. During the second half of her career Hepworth received important commissions, including the large-scale work Single Form for the United Nations building, New York. She showed in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1950), held major retrospectives at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1954) and Tate (1968), and was made Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1965. Aged 72, she died in a fire at her studio, which is now a museum dedicated to her work.