Henry Moore Walk

The plan was to walk to all eight open-air Henry Moore sculptures in London. This was the planned route: T-T’s Henry Moore Walk. In the end, we managed seven of the eight before running out of steam at just under 14 miles and diving into a Battersea pub. We made it from Kenwood House up above Hampstead, down into central London, then across the river and out to Kennington Park and Battersea Park.

The main challenge was, I’d used geotags of each sculpture (sourced from The Tate, I think) to compile directions on Google. However these turned out to be fairly generalised, so when we arrived where each sculpture ought to be, we still had to nose around to find it. The positives of this outweighed the annoyance though – because we found a bunch of lovely new corners of London.

At least two of the the early open-air Moores (2 and 3) show how controlled he was – against his will – by people commissioning his work when he was young, before he achieved enough fame/reputation to pick and choose. Especially Moore 3, West Winds, up in the rafters of a railway station building, is exactly what he didn’t want to be doing – but he was too young and inexperienced to turn down the commission. This must be one of the most ignored Moores in the world, since it’s dead central in London, yet I bet 99.9% of people wouldn’t think to even look up. One of the other ‘winds’ on the same building is an Eric Gill, constructed under the same kind of limiting pressure from the financers.

Later we even discovered an extra Moore, across the road from Tate Britain. We thought we’d found Moore number 5, however the sculpture was behind a fence in a private garden. It was also a bit small and didn’t match our description. We left disappointed. But as soon as we got back to the Thames’ north bank 100m away, we spotted the real Moore we’d been looking for, Locking Pieces. After that we assumed the smaller ‘false Moore’ was just something by another artist – but the following day Nathan found this link, proving that we’d stumbled on an extra ‘non public’ Henry Moore. Sweeet.

The most powerful moment for me (by far) was the walk into a rough estate just south of Kennington Park, to find Moore number 6. Having looked at Two Reclining Figures No.5 up in the uber posh Kenwood House Park (and note, it has a small fence around it to protect it) we then find a sister sculpture, Two Reclining Figures No.3, slap bang in the heart of a council estate, overlooked by four tower blocks. The estate was buzzing on a Sunday afternoon as well; with literally hundreds of people playing football and many more around the edges of the football pitches, chatting, chilling, scoring dope and getting off with each-other. It may sound like a trite Liberalism but this is exactly where a Henry Moore should be. No protective fence, either. It was more moving because I hadn’t expected to be moved – was just looking forward to seeing the Moores, not getting punched in the face by the ‘meaning’ of public art.

Here’s a bunch of photos I took on the day.

Thank you so much to Neil, Tim, Flea, Al, Izzo, Tilly, Scopes, Scopes’ Mum and Dad, Nicola, Tor and Anna. Big shout to Neil and Tim for making the whole distance with me. So over the two walks Neil is the only person other than me who has completed both walks in full. But who’s counting?

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