Henry Moore Exhibition at The Lightbox in Woking

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The centrepiece of the current Henry Moore exhibition which we went to see recently.

The Reclining Figure in Elmwood.

If you have worked in elmwood, you will know it is notoriously  difficult to get a smooth finish. The grain is very knobbly for want of a better word, and resists efforts to sand it to a smooth finish. This piece is like satin and invites you to touch, which you mustn’t do, of course

Moore sculpts for the landscape with his monumental works, and developed in his pieces the “far-seeing gaze”, so that they could look out over long distances. With the space restriction at the Lightbox , this exhibition quite rightly concentrates on Moore’s drawings and smaller pieces, which sometimes don’t get the exposure that they deserve. Here we see the natural shapes and found objects that influenced the sculptor throughout his career, which in turn influenced his finished sculptures

The holes and negative spaces were intended to stimulate rhythm, tension, force and vitality. He was driven by this idea of the outer layer giving protection to the inner shape within.  His interest extended to helmets, armour and shells which also protect the interior.

A frequent theme is the mother and child image, which explores this idea. The big protecting the small. His Madonna and Child sculptures reflect Moore’s fascination with the interdependence felt between mother and child.  He was drawn to how things naturally fit together within the balance of nature, and of course he was not the first to notice that.

He was also influenced by the solidity of  ancient Greek statues which he sketched in the British Museum. He sought to reflect the weight of the stone through the strength of his mother figures.

The exhibition lasts until 7th May. Although not a large space, nevertheless because of the accent on his drawings and maquettes, there is much to study. Too much, perhaps, for my level of concentration, I intend to go at least one more time before the closing date to carry on where I left off.mother-and-child

Schlee Collection at Mottisfont Abbey

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Mottisfont Abbey near Romsey in Hampshire, UK, owned by the National Trust

We were at Mottisfont yesterday to see the roses which are magnificent now. These are grown inside the old walled kitchen garden, which give them a superb backdrop against old brickwork. I took some pictures of specimens, especially blooms which are about to fall, hopefully to do a rose study again. I haven’t done one for a long time. Not just the roses though. We had come to see the art, in the form of the Schlee Collection which is on loan from Southampton Art Gallery until July 3rd

There is an exhibition of the Schlee Collection of drawings and sketches, on loan from Southampton Art Gallery, which lasts until July 3rd. A private collection which was bequeathed to Southampton Art gallery in 2013, which includes work or should I say squiggles, by David Hockney, Henry Moore and Franz Auerbach, plus many others. I would like to say that I was thrilled by them, but I wasn’t. Heavily worked and corrected jottings are not very impressive, even if by one of the great names in British art. I was more pleased to see a drawing by Barbara Hepworth of an operating theatre, placed next to her mentor Henry Moore’s work. The Barbara Hepworth was borrowed from the Derek Hill collection which is in permanent residence at Mottisfont.

Derek Hill was a portrait and landscape painter of note, who became sought-after during the 1960s. From the south of England he moved to the west coast of Ireland and founded the Tory Island School of painting, where he taught the fishermen to paint the wild Irish landscape. He was also an avid collector of modern art, including the post-Impressionists. He was a friend of Maud Russell the last owner of Mottisfont, and bequeathed a portion of his collection there. These are always worth seeing, including many of his own works, time and again.

For me, however, the gem is still the Whistler room. Here we see Rex Whistler’s unfinished murals. Unfinished because he was killed in Normandy in 1944. His trompe l’oeil paint pot and brush high up on the coving below the ceiling, still makes me feel that I want to get a ladder and climb up and get it. I believe several have in the past

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