Henry Moore at the YSP

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Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 (1961-2)

As well as holding excellent temporary exhibitions the Yorkshire Sculpture park have an outstanding collection of works on display. This includes a large number of sculptures by Henry Moore – a local lad born just down the road in Castleford  – which are scattered around their own dedicated field in the park. The sculptures are on loan from the Tate Collection, The Henry Moore Foundation and London Borough of Tower Hamlets and together they comprise the largest display of open-air bronzes by him in Europe.

I’ve taken photographs of many of the sculptures during  our visits to the YSP over the past three years. There have been some changes during that time, with some pieces removed and replaced by others.

The photos really can’t do them justice. Moving round the individual works and looking at them from different viewpoints reveals very different aspects, shapes and forms. They really need to be seen and experienced “in the flesh”.

Moore is quoted in the YSPs publication “A guide to works in the open air” (a snip at £5, I thought) as saying

Sculpture is an art of the open air. Daylight, sunlight, is necessary to it, and for me its best setting and complement is nature. I would rather have a piece of my sculpture put in a landscape, almost any landscape, than in, or on, the most beautiful building I know.

And I have to say that I agree with him 100%.

Here’s some of my photos.


Large 2 Forms (1966-9)


Large 2 Forms (1966-9)



2 Part Reclining Figure: Points (1969-70)



Large Totem Head (1968)



Upright Motive No.5 (1955-6)




Oval With Points (1968-70)


Oval With Points (1968-70)



Upright Motive No 7, No 1 & No 2, (1955-56)



Large Spindle Piece 1968-74

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Large Spindle Piece 1968-74



Reclining figure : Bunched (1985)



Upright motive No. 9 (1979)


The next sculpture, Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut (1979-81), was replaced by “Large 2 Forms” (1966-9) last year:

YSP 019


This one was only installed last year but wasn’t there during our visit a couple of weeks ago (March 2012) :


Mother and child : Block seat (1983-4)


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Standing Figure: Knife Edge (1961) was returned to it’s original site in Greenwich Park last year.


Draped seated woman (1957-8) or “Old Flo” as she was popularly known was originally installed on the Stifford estate in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London with the help of public money in 1962, and with Henry Moore contributing by selling her at a minimal price. It was an attempt to make art accessible to ordinary people and stood on the estate until 1997. By then, the estate had been demolished and “Old Flo” was vandalised, smeared with paint. So she was transferred to the YSP who cleaned her up and she’s been on display in the park ever since. However, Tower Hamlets Council have woken up to the fact that they own a major work of art valued at about £5 million and they’ve decided they want her back.

There was an article in the Guardian about the campaign last year. But there are concerns about siting such a valuable lump of bronze on a working class estate again, especially after the theft of Barbara Hepworth’s Two Forms (Divided Circle) from Dulwich Park last December. So the proposal is to site it in Canary Wharf.

I can sympathise with the Council wanting it back but not so that it can be located amongst office blocks occupied by yuppies from the banking and financial sector. It was purchased by local people for the benefit of ordinary working class residents of the Borough and if it is returned surely it should be installed somewhere in line with the original intention.

The Guardian article suggests a solution

Unfortunately there is almost nil prospect that the borough will raise the money to have Old Flo looked after in some spot outside Canary Wharf. Perhaps the best hope is that, in a true act of altruism, the Wharf might support the costs of installation in a place less favoured than their own estate. The theory behind such developments is, after all, that they spread their wealth around their surroundings. This would be the perfect demonstration.

But we’re probably more likely to see pigs flying over the Tower of London.


Henry Moore in the Country Park

Introduction to Henry Moore

Henry Moore and the Open Air


6 thoughts on “Henry Moore at the YSP

  1. If it was as sunny as it was this side of the Pennines yesterday would have been a good day to visit the ysp. I read in the Guardian today that “large 2 forms” was going to London for an exhibition there. A pity everything has to be concentrated down there.

  2. Pingback: Yorkshire Sculpture Park Visit | jamesszakacs1982

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