Published on 3rd October 2019

barbara hepworth sculpture in Cheltenham town centre

This week, Cheltenham Borough Council issued a Building Preservation Notice (BPN) to protect the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture called ‘Theme and Variations’.

The sculpture is situated on Cheltenham House, Clarence Street, in the town centre.The BPN has the effect of ‘spot listing’ the sculpture, immediately protecting it from being removed. A BPN is uncommon and generally only used in exceptional circumstances.

Installed in 1972, the three-part semi-circular bronze composition pieces ‘Theme and Variations’ was specifically commissioned for what was then the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society headquarters. The sculpture, being constructed by a historic forge and situated within the historic streetscape of Cheltenham, is considered to have national importance and artistic merit as one of Barbara Hepworth’s significant public commissions undertaken at the height of her international fame.

Cllr Flo Clucas, cabinet member for healthy lifestyles, says: “Spot listing this Hepworth sculpture is a really positive move, ensuring the sculpture is retained within our town and making a positive contribution to public art within an historic setting.”

Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: “An application for listing of the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture has been made to Historic England and the outcome of the process is awaited. We anticipate that the outcome of the listing process will be known in advance of the expiry of the BPN.”

Further information about the sculpture and artist can be found at

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Notes: A Building Preservation Notice (BPN) affords temporary protection (up to six months) against demolition, damage or removal to the building/structure on which it is served. Permanent protection is provided by the listing of a building or structure, and is a task undertaken by Historic England.

The art work was constructed at the Morris Singer foundry. Morris Singer's origins date back to 1848 and the forge is recognised worldwide as the oldest fine art foundry in the world.