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.