Posts Tagged ‘Perry Green’

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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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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