Five must-see works at The Lightbox's Henry Moore exhibition

  • 19 April 2017

The Lightbox's exhibition explores the inspiration Henry Moore drew from forms and shapes found in the natural world. We asked curator Peter Hall to share his highlights.

Henry Moore: Sculpting from Nature is at The Lightbox in Woking until 7 May 2017. There’s 50% off standard entry with a National Art Pass.

1

Reclining Figure Holes, 1976-78

  • © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Henry Moore produced six monumental Reclining Figures in Elmwood between 1935 and 1978. From an unusually contorted elm trunk, Moore recognised that ‘the grain of the wood plays a part and makes it alive’. As Moore approached 80, assistants Michael Muller and Malcolm Woodward undertook the carving, using Moore’s plaster maquette. As one of the highlights of the exhibition, Reclining Figure Holes demands attention with its smooth texture and powerful presence.


2

Head, 1984

  • © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Head is an excellent example of Moore’s use of nature and found objects as inspiration for his work. This particular sculpture was inspired by a small piece of bone that he later turned into a maquette in the shape of a head. He created the mouth with the imprint of his finger and nail. His assistant Bernard Meadows discovered the tiny maquette, while Malcolm Woodward enlarged the piece into plaster prior to casting in bronze. Both the small piece of bone and maquette can be found on display inside the ‘Studio Objects’ case at the exhibition.


3

Elephant Skull

  • © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Moore’s Elephant Skull etchings begin with an exploration of the skull from all four sides, followed by further exploration of the details within. The interlocking and architectural shapes form sweeping arcs, recesses, cavities and labyrinthine passages. Some of the more imaginative and surreal configurations look like deserts, coastal landscapes, sand hills and caves. Also, as Moore explained, ‘some of the etchings here are actually upside down or on their side from what I saw’. By deliberately rotating the etching plate, he set up interesting visual, spatial and abstract tensions in his examination of this natural object.


4

Seated Mother and Child

  • © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

With the mother and child theme, Moore explored the idea of the ‘big form protecting the small form…all of the things that are implied in the mother and child’. Attracted to the interconnectedness which is felt between a mother and her child, Moore was drawn to how things naturally fit together. He took inspiration from Ancient Greek sculptures at the British Museum and how the weighty stone exuded a strength that could be reflected through his mother figures.


5

Ideas for Sculpture with Mother and Child

  • © Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Moore’s internal and external shapes and hollowed out bodies combined his interests in anatomy, biology, and bones. The interiors of these forms, made visible through the gaps and holes of their protective outer layers, also link back to the mother and child theme. Moore explained this as ‘I suppose in my mind was also the mother and child idea and of birth and the child in embryo. All these things are connected in this interior and exterior idea.’


Tags: What to see