Henry Moore in London
Of all the artists who have made London their home, sculptor Henry Moore has perhaps had the greatest and most lasting impact on the capital‘s public spaces. Time Out talks to six Londoners about the sculptures that mean the most to them
The Venerable Peter Delaney, arch-deacon of London, at the church of St Stephen Walbrook (Circular Altar, 1972)
With a Henry Moore show about to open at the Imperial War Museum and a major exhibition planned for Kew Gardens next year, the British artist is still a major presence on the London art scene 20 years after his death. With his large-scale, modernist, abstracted sculptural figures merged with natural forms, Moore attracted as much controversy and acclaim among the postwar generation as the YBAs did among the post-Thatcher one. But Moore sustained his fame not by alcohol-fuelled antics in Soho drinking dens, but by making his work accessible by placing large-scale sculptures on permanent public display – installing them within the landscape, in parks and public squares and alongside the new urban architecture that emerged during the postwar building boom.London has its own strong connections to Moore. With major sculptures sited throughout the capital, his works are part of the fabric of the city; perhaps so much so that many of us forget they are there, which is why we’ve asked the Londoners who know Moore’s works best to explain what they mean to them.
For further information see www.henry-moore-fdn.co.uk. ‘War and Utility’ opens at the Imperial War Museum on Sept 14 (020 7416 5320).
Circular Altar (1972)
The Venerable Peter Delaney, arch-deacon of London, at the church of St Stephen Walbrook‘The altar has a lot of nicknames – like ‘the big cheese’ and ‘the sailor’s hat’ – but I prefer to call it ‘the rock’, after the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. From certain angles the indentations carved into it also remind me of the crown of thorns. I’ve always liked it; it creates such a striking view as you walk up the steps to the church and see it underneath the magnificent dome designed by Christopher Wren. ‘The altar was commissioned from Moore by Lord Palumbo, the former chairman of the Arts Council, as part of the redevelopment of the church in the 1970s. But because it was such a controversial choice for an altar it went to the highest ecclesiastical court in the land before it was finally ruled acceptable. I argued in favour of it. It made sense to me to have a round altar in the centre of the church because God is at the centre. Wren had wanted the church to be about light and space and Moore understood that. Wren’s original designs were progressive for the time and the church has remained forward-thinking: Dr Chad Varah founded the Samaritans when he was rector here, so it’s fitting that the church has continued in that tradition. And to have an altar by an artist as great as Henry Moore is very much part of that.’39 Walbrook, EC4 (020 7283 4444/www.ststephenwalbrook.net) Bank tube.
Natasha Rhoden and Aston Holnes with Two Piece Reclining Figure No 3, 1961'
Two Piece Reclining Figure No 3 (1961)
Natasha Rhoden, tenancy services officer, with Aston Holness, estates compliance officer, on the Brandon Estate‘I’ve been working on the Brandon Estate for just over a year and Aston has worked here for 20 months. Our job is to deal with tenancy issues – things like anti-social behaviour orders, repairs, health and safety and people wanting to move; everything to do with looking after the estate really. We see this statue every day; I know of Henry Moore, but all I know about the statue is that it was donated to the people of the Brandon Estate in 1961. Apparently Moore chose this place because the tower blocks all around it really contrast with the statue itself. The first time I walked on to the estate, I thought: What is this doing here? It’s really unusual and you’d never expect something like that to be here. I think it brings character to the estate and gives the residents something to look at. I think there should be more artwork around the estate. The kids tend to use it as a climbing frame, but I don’t think they know that it’s by a famous artist. A lot of residents have lived here for a long time so for them it’s part of their everyday life, just part of the estate. But if it was taken away, I think they would really miss it.’The Brandon Estate, Cooks Rd, SE17. Oval tube.
Paul Dickie with 'Knife Edge Piece' (1962-5)
Knife Edge Piece (1962-5)
Paul Dickie, cameraman for Sky News, outside the Houses of Parliament‘I think we probably all take the sculpture for granted. I’ve been a cameraman for over 20 years, for the BBC, ITV and now for Sky. I’ve been filming at Westminster, on and off, for 15 years and am here filming in Abingdon Street Gardens on most days. I like the sculpture very much. For cameramen it’s not only an artwork but also a prop. We quite often sit correspondents on the plinth or film them through the gap in the middle. It’s also useful for shade when the sun’s coming from a particular direction. When there’s a major political event to report, the gardens can get very packed so it’s first come, first served. It attracts a lot of people, especially kids, who seem to like to touch it because it has a textured surface. We’re very near to Tate Britain here, so I go there quite often too when I’m having a break. The first time I went was to see an exhibition of sculpture by Picasso but now I may just go and see one work at a time. Becoming a member is quite cheap and it means that I can go back and see the exhibitions whenever I want. I may see something at the Tate and then when I come back I’ll look at the Moore sculpture in a different way.’ Abingdon St Gardens, Palace Green, near Parliament Square, SW1. Westminster tube.
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