Henry Moore at Perry Green

Posted on October 16, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

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Main: Henry Moore's Large Reclining figure in bronze; Bottom left: Henry Moore's house, Hoglands


I love seeing sculptures outdoor, and one of my favourite sculpture parks is the Hakone open-air museum near Mount Fuji in Japan, where you would find over 100 sculptures by masters like Picasso, Rodin, Miro and Moore etc set in a stunning landscape. In the UK, I have long wanted to visit the Yorkshire sculpture park, which was awarded Museum of the year 2014, though somehow not quite managed it yet. However, I did make a trip to Perry Green in Hertfordshire at the end of summer with a group of art lovers to see the sublime sculptures by Henry Moore and their current exhibition, 'Body & Void: Echoes of Moore in Contemporary Art' (until 26th October). In some ways, I feel like this extraordinary place is still a relatively hidden gem in the country, and I am not quite sure why.

Moore and his wife Irina moved to Perry Green in 1940 after their home and studio in Hampstead, London, had been damaged during the war. Originally planned as a temporary home, the Moores eventually settled in Perry Green for the rest of their lives and built up an estate which included their home Hoglands, a collection of studios and 70-acres of grounds in which Moore's sculptures could be displayed. Today, the estate is run by the Henry Moore Foundation, and it is open to the public every year between April and October.


body void Richard Deacon Associate Lygia Clark's Fantastic Architecture 1Rachel Whiteread's Detached 3 Thomas Schütte - Stahlfrau No.1 2000 perry greenrichard longbody void

Top right: Richard Deacon's Associate; Main & bottom right: Lygia Clark's Fantastic Architecture 1; 3rd row left: Rachel Whiteread's Detached 3; 3rd row right: Thomas Schütte - Stahlfrau No.1 200; Bottom left: A telephone booth filled with artwork; Bottom middle: Richard Long's North South Line


Soon after our arrival, we visited Moore' former house, where most of its original furnishings and contents are still intact. There is a guide in each room to explain the stories and history behind his collections and their daily activities. It is fascinating to see the books Moore used to read, his ethnographic collection, as well as his private art collection, which includes a Picasso in the kitchen!

After the house tour, another guide was assigned to us for a longer tour of the estate, including Moore's former studios, the stunning tapestry barn and the current exhibition. 'Body & Void: Echoes of Moore in Contemporary Art' draws connections between Moore's investigation of internal space and its relationship with the human body, and reveals how his ideas have inspired subsequent generations of contemporary artists including Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Richard Long etc.


henry moore Sheep piece henry moore the archhenry moore Large Reclining figurehenry moore Draped reclining figurehenry moore Large upright internal/external formhenry moore Family grouphenry moore Double Oval Henry Moore: Large figure in a shelter

Top left: Sheep piece; Top right: The Arch; Main: Large Reclining figure surrounded by sheep; 3rd row left: Draped reclining figure; 3rd row middle: Large upright internal/external form; 3rd row right: Family group; Bottom left: Double Oval; Bottom right: Large figure in a shelter


One of the reasons why Perry Green is so special is because you can see many sheep surrounding Moore's sculptures in the fields behind his studio. Moore was born and grew up in Yorkshire, so he had a long fascination with sheep and used to sketch them all the time when he was living in Perry Green. Moore commented that sheep were "just the right size for the kind of landscape setting that I like for my sculptures, as opposed to cows or horses whose larger size would reduce the sense of monumentality in his work."

There are about 23 outdoor sculptures by Moore at Perry Green, and most of them are in bronze. I have seen many Moore's sculptures inside museums before, but the impact is less powerful than seeing them out in nature against the beautiful landscape. Moore's sculptures are inspired by nature and organic objects, and so they look most at home out in the open air. Like the artist once said: "I would rather have a piece of sculpture put in a landscape, almost any landscape, than in or on the most beautiful building I know."


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In order to appreciate Moore's outdoor sculptures, you need to walk around them and observe them from different angles. These sculptures change according to the sun light, clouds, shadows, and it is hard not to be mesmorised by them. Like Moore said: "Sculpture is like a journey. You have a different view as you return. The three-dimensional world is full of surprised in a way that a two-dimensional world could never be."

Interestingly, this insightful statement seems to be relevant to how we live today... as we are so bogged down and obsessed with the two-dimensional world behind the screens that many are unable to experience life or interact with other human beings and their surroundings in reality.


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Top & bottom right: Henry Moore at Tate Britain; Bottom left: The Arch by Moore at Kensington gardens


Although we all felt quite exhausted after walking for hours, the day excursion was inspiring and uplifting for us all. And if you cannot make a trip to Perry Green before the end of the month, you can always visit Tate Britain, where you would find two permanent galleries dedicated to his work.

I also discovered an interview of Moore from the from the BBC archive: Henry Moore at Home, where you can hear him talk about private art collection and his fascination with sheep.


The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, SG10 6EE.


This post was posted in Exhibitions, Travel, Nature, Art, Gardens & parks, British art, British heritage, Sculptures, Britain and was tagged with art and design exhibitions, nature, heritage, British art, sculptures, Henry Moore, sculpture park