Posts Tagged ‘Henry Moore’

I went to Woking recently. It’s not far by car and I’d read that there was a Henry Moore exhibition showing there. Now, Woking isn’t a place one immediately associates with culture – it has a mediocre shopping mall, expensive parking and a horribly stressful one-way system currently exacerbated  by complicated roadworks. There is, however, a decent theatre and cinema complex but you have to wade through a phalanx of overly large folk eating their way through super-sized meals in a ‘food court’ full of fast food outlets. It always strikes me as odd that these bulky types, noshing their way through zillions of calories, tend to favour sports clothing: tracksuits, leggings and t-shirts that must surely contain a Lycra percentage, so tight are they stretched across their ample stomachs. Why is that? I’m fairly certain that the sportswear isn’t fulfilling its intended function.

Sorry, I’m straying off topic.

I was headed for the Lightbox. This is Woking’s arts venue and it occurred to me that I’d been there once before, years ago, when I took Son (aged about twelve) to an exhibition about Surrey during WW2. Why I haven’t been back since is a mystery…the place is a light and lively proactive three story area stuffed full of ever changing exhibitions and workshops for school parties with a very acceptable looking cafe area in the foyer where any suggestion of chips with Lycra is thankfully absent.

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I was amazed that entry to the Henry Moore cost me just £3 – which also allows me entry into any exhibitions at the Lightbox FOR A WHOLE YEAR. While I couldn’t believe this my gob was even more smacked when the young lady behind the till mentioned apologetically that if I lost the entry card she had just given me, I’d have to pay £5 to replace it. This must be the best value exhibition centre IN THE WORLD.

The Henry Moore show ‘Sculpting from Nature’ concentrated on inspiration he drew from his surroundings– studies of shells, feathers and bones. The collection included drawings, maquettes, studio materials and working models plus three or four of his monumental sculptures, all loaned by the Henry Moore Foundation.

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From a very young age, Henry Moore was an avid collector of natural things and at the Lightbox show there is a central cabinet filled with some of his precious finds. It’s easy to spot how these organic shapes – from driftwood and shells to shards of flint – were transformed into his iconic work that is so distinguishable today.

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An informative archive black and white film, playing on a loop looks into the work of one of Britain’s most famous contemporary sculptors and there are shots of Henry walking around his garden at Perry Green – a place I visited several years ago with WF1 and which I think now requires a return.

But my tour of Woking’s Lightbox was far from over, for on the third floor was another fascinating exhibition. The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art was commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the artist John Minton (a new name to me) who was inspired by the British Neo-Romanticism movement of which John Piper and Graham Sutherland were major figureheads. Alongside Minton’s works were those of his contemporaries, John Craxton, Julian Trevelyan and Alan Reynolds, none of which I was familiar. I love discovering new things.

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Two Fishermen, 1949 by John Minton (1917-1957)

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Thames Houseboats, The Weir 1963, by Julian Trevelyan (1910-1988)

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I am With Child, 2008, by John Craxton (1922-2009)

According to Art Fund’s director, Stephen Deuchar, Chris Ingram is one of the most active and thoughtful collectors of modern British art today. Well, I’ll agree with that – I had a bonus hour wandering around a virtually empty gallery, enjoying the work of many painters I’d never heard of. Thanks to Chris Ingram, I say.

And thank you, Lightbox. As I left, I snapped this statue outside the main entrance. It shows author HG Wells, who moved to Woking in 1895 and wrote his most famous novel ‘War of the Worlds’ while living in a house on Maybury Road.

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On the journey home I cogitated over other famous Woking residents and it came to me that the Modfather, Paul Weller, hails from here. If you’re in the dark as to who I’m talking about – remember The Jam from the early eighties? Remember one of their hit singles,  Town Called Malice? Paul Weller wrote that song about Woking, his childhood home.

Just how diverse can one town be?

 

Henry Moore Sculpting from Nature runs until 7 May

Ingram Collection runs until 26 March

Lightbox, Woking.

 

 

 

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As the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley is almost on the doorstep I thought I’d mosey on up the A3 this week and take a wander to get some botanical inspiration. Having to park in the second overflow car park before mid-morning didn’t really bode well crowd-wise but I’m in chilled out holiday mode, so hey-ho.

Once through the gates it was obvious that there must be a special school-holiday event on. (Oh, dear). Grimly undeterred, I waded through hundreds of very small people attached to their Surrey mothers, all pushing the obligatory Surrey pushchair – the equivalent in stroller terms to a 4×4 vehicle. These modern day contraptions come with several levels of parcel shelving, space for two or three infants and room for all the paraphernalia that seems to be required when taking an outing, however uncomplicated, with your children these days. Things have changed since Son was small. We had the equivalent of a canvas deckchair which folded up like a telescopic umbrella. That and a modest back-pack was all we ever needed. Perhaps he was a deprived child, I don’t know, but it never took long to get ready or in and out of my humble hatch-back.

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I like to start a Wisley walk by taking the wide path through the herbaceous borders and up towards Battleston Hill, passing the rose garden on the right.

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“Off With Their Heads!”

It was here that I realised why there were so many children and their parents around – the event ‘Adventures in Wonderland’ was celebrating 150 years of the book by Lewis Carroll and the small visitors were rushing around like crazed beetles trying to find Alice and all the character sculptures hidden around the gardens.  In the centre of the rose garden was the Queen of Hearts, positioned here looking for all the world as if the three gardeners behind her had caused displeasure and were definitely for the chop. I began to see the fun in this and actively started searching out the figures for myself although I was at a disadvantage because I hadn’t been given a fact sheet to tick off or a little booklet on my arrival.

Now – here’s a point to ponder: When does a garden ornament become a sculpture? What actually defines a sculpture?

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I puzzled on this as I meandered through the hydrangeas, also wondering why ours don’t look quite like these gargantuan specimens. No Wonderland figures here as far as I could see so I changed route towards the rockeries, passing this intriguingly mown lawn and more herbaceous borders.

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Here I found the Mad Hatter standing on the edge of a bird bath as well as the White Rabbit. I spied the manufacturer’s details on an information stand near these two and thought what an excellent way this is to maximise publicity for your company.

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White Rabbit with the Dormouse sitting in the bird bath

I can imagine that these figurines will prove very popular and are certainly a step up from the kitsch garden gnomes or moulded Alsatian dogs I’ve seen at my local garden centre.

As I crossed the main lawn where I passed a giant chess set and a croquet game being played with plastic flamingos (this whole event has been very well thought out for Wisley’s youthful visitors) it occurred to me that I’d probably answered my own question, especially as I spied this bronze sculpture, on loan to Wisley from the Henry Moore Foundation.

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Entitled simply ‘King and Queen’ and created by Henry Moore in 1957, these two figures sit serenely in front of the house now used as a botanical laboratory. They overlook the canal and appear very much at home here.

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 Now, that’s what I call sculpture.

Adventures in Wonderland continues at Wisley until 31 August.

This post forms the fourth part of a challenge thrown down by Sherri, over at her Summerhouse.  As Sherri herself has already changed the rules of the challenge which originally was to post five pictures and five stories on consecutive days (ha! not a chance!), I have been taking a more relaxed attitude towards the rules myself. I’m supposed to nominate someone to take up the challenge after each of these posts but I’m not going to do that. Suffice to say, if you feel the urge to challenge yourself to five pictures/five stories (fact or fiction) then please feel free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last weekend we popped down to West Sussex to take a look at some outside art at the Cass Sculpture Foundation, part of the Goodwood Estate. The Foundation was established twenty years ago by Wilfred and Jeanette Cass. Their vision was to create a charity to support both emerging and recognised artists, allowing the public to engage with contemporary sculpture as well as providing a venue for displaying large-scale works. Originally established to promote British artists, the Foundation now includes work from across the globe.

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“Janus Head” by Peter Burke. I liked this because it made me think of Easter Egg hunts – it looks like moulded chocolate, although actually it’s bronze.

The twenty six acres of ground are enclosed by an impressive Sussex flint wall inside which the woodland has been left to its own devices; the floor is carpeted with coarse grass interspersed with nettles and the odd weedy flower struggling for light. The Foundation does not appear to employ much in the way of horticultural management. There’s allowing for natural planting and there’s leaving a place to go to seed…

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Stairway to Heaven? No, just “Stairway” by Danny Lane, made from glass and steel

From the park, there are far reaching views to Chichester and the south coast.

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“Peregrine” by Stephen Cox. This appealed because of the reflections bouncing off the polished Indian Granite.

The sculptures are placed randomly around a rough trail which you can follow on the map picked up at the visitor’s centre when you pay your £12 entry fee. I’m pleased to say that my Art Pass allowed me a fifty percent discount. Most of the sculptures are massive and one wonders who, other than large corporate bodies, would purchase such things. I can’t see any of them in your average domestic garden.

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“Passages and Circumstances” by John Isherwood, carved from Pennsylvanian Granite. This invites you to squeeze between the uprights to view from different angles.

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I loved this smoke and mirror illusory piece in stainless steel by Rob Ward. He calls it “Gate” which I think is suitably cryptic.

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Another one by Peter Burke, this is called “Host.” Conjured up creepy images of a Dr Who set.

Now, as you probably know, I am a fan of sculpture but I have to say, I found it difficult to pick out works here that were worth a photograph. Some of them were hideous (in my view) so I didn’t bother. Some of them were untitled, so I didn’t bother. Why do artists do that? Leave something untitled? It bugs me. Giving something a heading or a title gives it credibility. Thinking up inventive headlines is part of the creative process. If artists can’t express what or how they were inspired by giving the viewing public some sort of clue then I’ll be darned if I’m going to give the work to which they’ve doubtlessly slaved over for months a second thought. Even the wonderful Henry Moore is guilty of this but in his case I can probably forgive. There’s always an exception.

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This collection of copper tents was my favourite of the day. By Diana Maclean it is called “Encampment.” I might’ve been tempted to name it ‘Tepee or not Tepee’ or ‘Reservation’ – plenty of connotations to that one – but at least she titled her work.

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I’ve been a fan of Henry Moore for years, possibly since Dad, on driving us past the newly installed Knife Edge Two Piece, in front of the Houses of Parliament, dismissed it with a scathing grunt as ‘modern art.’

Knife Edge Two Piece

Knife Edge Two Piece

I was at that age when everything one’s parents say is complete rubbish so automatically I strove to like it. And I still do, so thanks, Dad.  Having been to a major retrospective at the Tate a few years ago and to an exhibition of Moore’s works at Kew Gardens, it was with excitement that I planned my trip to Hertfordshire with a competent map-reading friend.

It takes a while to find Perry Green, the tiny hamlet where Henry Moore lived. When you get there, you feel like you’ve dropped through time, to an era before technology ruled the world; a peaceful, slower time, where people stopped to pass the time of day. The sort of place where a whistling butcher’s boy rides past on an old bicycle and the bus comes once a week. There are no shops, but there is a telephone box, which, on closer inspection, is a tiny exhibition gallery called the Red Cube. The Hoops Inn, tucked away behind a hedge, provides a further clue that this is no ordinary village: the size of their car park suggests they expect a crowd.

Hoglands - Henry Moore's home

Hoglands – Henry Moore’s home

Hoglands, Henry Moore’s delightful house, is part of the Henry Moore Foundation, a registered charity founded in 1977 by Moore himself to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts. The garden and adjacent fields are home to many of Moore’s finest pieces, the setting complementing both the structure and form of his sculptures. Opposite the main house is a little cottage which doubles as the ticket office and coffee shop. We were advised to book a time to see the interior of the house as only a few people are let in at once. This is well worth clock-watching for as inside the house there is a real feeling of the artist’s presence – as if he and his wife have just popped out to the nearest town and will be back any minute.

The garden is informal with hedges and plantings masking the next treasure. At the far reaches of the garden are the sheds and barns HM used for creating, and these too, are open for inspection – some are as he would have left them; one is an indoor exhibition of his work and another, The Aisled Barn, has an exhibition of tapestries designed by HM and woven at West Dean College in West Sussex.

Colour composition with half moon - tapestry

Colour composition with half moon – tapestry

Beyond these buildings is the sheep field where some of his largest pieces can be seen, magnificent against the landscape, yet completely at home with the animals resting against them. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I’ll finish with a few more images from my day at Hoglands. Henry Moore’s home is most definitely on my top-ten-places-to-visit list.

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Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge

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Double Oval

Large Internal Form

Large Internal Form

Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae

Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae

If you decide to go, be prepared to spend the whole day there and book a table at the Hoops Inn the food is good but they do get extremely busy.

Hoglands is open until 27 October 2013, Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays 11am – 5pm.

Header picture shows Large Reclining Figure, situated on a mound in the far corner of the sheep field: an imposing sentinel.

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I’m so excited. I’ve just signed up for a National Art Pass, thanks to a tip off from my niece. She has a degree in fine art and is striving towards an illustrious career as an illustrator.  (As I’m keen on promoting creativity within the family, you can check out her work here). When she first mentioned it to me I thought it was probably something only available to students or recent graduates, but no, it’s for everyone so I’m passing on the message. The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art and by supporting them in this way I am indirectly responsible for helping museums and galleries across the country add to their collections.

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For around £40 a year, this little piece of plastic allows me free entry to over two hundred galleries, castles and historic houses all over the country as well as half price admission to major exhibitions. I shall recoup my money in no time! My welcome pack arrived over the weekend and includes a comprehensive guide-book to all the participating venues.

With the school summer holiday fast approaching I am filling my August calendar with days out inspired by the contents of the Art Pass guide-book. I had already earmarked the Lowry at Tate Britain so while I’m there I’ll pop in to see the Patrick Caulfield – double whammy.

There is one place that I went to last year to which I would return time and again if it wasn’t such a horrible drive from home. Henry Moore’s home at Perry Green in Hertfordshire is one of the most interesting places I have ever visited and is worth a post in its own right, so watch this space. As it is covered by my Art Pass I don’t think that making the drive through the M25 road works is a good enough excuse not to go… and there’s a jolly nice pub next door. There we go – I can talk myself into anything.

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