Walking up the top of the stairs at the Hepworth on New Years day we were greeted by a display of three large reclining figure sculptures by Henry Moore. Hailing from nearby Castleford, he was a local lad. Two of the sculptures, one carved from elm wood and a second cast in bronze (from 1962), are from the Hepworth's own collection.
The third, a large four piece polished bronze work is on loan. This is one of his later works from the 1970's and is the sight that greets visitors reaching the top of the stairs and entering the exhibition space.
It's a very striking work; partly because of its size but also because of its highly polished finish. Although it wasn't my favourite. That was the earliest of thre three works – the one carved from elmwood and created in 1932.
To me it's a very attractive piece. A warm colour and texture with a very pleasing effect created by the grain of the wood. And it was very difficult to avoid succumbing to temptation and running my hands across the smooth surface – strictly fobidden of course. But visitors were allowed to touch the Hepworth's bronze (nott he shiney one), providing special gloves which the Gallery had available and would supply to visitors, were worn.
There were also three smaller figures – maquettes- on display in a glass cabinet.
It was only a small display, but coming from different periods of Moore's life, showed how hos approach to the reclining figure, a major theme throughout his career, changed and developed.