If, for example, we take our sense of touch and feel the cool smoothness of pebbles washed up on a beach, we can see how Barbara Hepworth managed to reproduce this same cool smoothness in her sculpture Image 1.
She spent many years by the sea in Cornwall and she was influenced by the things she found around her.
She will have picked up many pebbles and observed their properties. The forces within the pebble will have moved her in some way because within its shape, a pebble covers millions of years of existence. Events that have formed its unique character can be interpreted by touch. For instance, volcanic activity may have blown up material from deep inside the Earth. It may then have been part of a mountain range and found its way to the sea via glacier or river. Its journey under water may have spanned hundreds of miles before the sea returned it back to the land. Nature has determined its character and carved its shape.
The marble form, from which Hepworth chose to make Image 1, also carries its own unique history and its history now includes her. She has given Image 1 its unique shape - like the Earth's forces did to the pebble. Her inspiration came from the pebble and is returned to our consciousness via Image 1. Nothing can be so humble or so inspirational as a simple pebble.
If we take another example, which could be viewed as almost the opposite extreme, and look at Pablo Picasso junk sculptures. Here we have objects made up from discarded man-made rubbish. He says of these works:
"There is a good reason for doing it this way. The material itself, the form and the texture of these pieces often gives me the key for the whole sculpture. The shovel in which I saw the vision of the tail feathers of the crane gave me the idea of doing the crane."
He goes on to say "It would be very easy to do these things in a traditional method, but this way I can engage the mind of the viewer in a direction he hadn't foreseen and make him rediscover things he had forgotten".
Another excellent example is Bull's head 1942.
The hardened smooth bicycle seat acting as the head of the animal, is characteristic of the feel of a cows head (I have never stroked a bull!) The skin stretched tight across the inner skull shape leaving no soft fleshy parts, which is very reminiscent of the unforgiving leather saddle. Picasso's brain transforming it from object to art through his sense of touch and sight.
Very often he uses his sculptures and relief's as a source material for his paintings - one idea sparking off another. Here is a man who must have given more changes to all our thinking than any other and he is using the simplest discarded objects to reproduce highly complex compositions.