Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture Draped Seated Woman known in the East End as Old Flo is at last to return to London from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where she went 'on holiday' in 1997 (for safe-keeping) and has admired the view and the sheep for the last 20 years since the wind-up of the Greater London Council's Residary Body.
Tower Hamlets Council this week announced the outcome of the process used to decide where the sculpture should go when it comes back to London.
|Draped Seated Woman aka "Old Flo" in Yorkshire Sculpture Park|
photography courtesy of John Reynolds - Some rights reserved
My previous blog posts on this topic are:
- Henry Moore Sculpture - a very poor precedent Nov 8, 2012 - This relates
- the story behind the creation of Old Flo by Henry Moore;
- her relationship with the borough of Tower Hamlets (where I live) and
- the story behind the then Mayor's proposal to sell the sculpture sell the sculpture (he's since had to step down as Mayor and was banned from politics for 5 years) - and
- why this was a really BAD IDEA!
- Old Flo - the end of the story? Jul 13, 2015 - all about why a High Court decision determined that LB Tower Hamlets did own the Moore statue after all
- A new location for Henry Moore's "Old Flo" in the East End
- announced that the Appeal Court had rejected LB Bromley's appeal and Tower Hamlets Council has been reconfirmed as the legal owner of the Henry Moore sculpture Draped Seated Woman.
- includes a timeline of mishap and malfeasance in relation to the disposition of Old Flo.
There are - or should be - a minimum of two criteria for a new location for the sculpture:
In terms of safety, there's probably no question that the safest place which is accessible to the population of Tower Hamlets is probably what is now the private estate at Canary Wharf. It has its own security force which is active and vigilant. Nowhere else in the borough - with the possible exception of the Tower of London enjoys the same degree of security.
- Moore's conditions of sale
- where the sculpture can be located and be safe from both vandalism and theft
The threat of meltdown
The major consideration had to be the potential theft of the statue for its metal value.
The threat was not insignificant. It's a fate suffered by other Henry Moore Sculptures that have been "lifted" and stolen for their value as metal not art. Below are accounts of other bronze sculptures which have been stolen and melted down
- Theft of bronze statues linked to 'artworks for scrap' gang (The Independent May 2006)
- Mystery of the stolen Moore solved (The Guardian May 2009) - Bronze sculpture worth £3m was melted down and sold off as scrap for just £1,500, say police. This theft involved a massive sculpture, which weighed 2.1 tons and measured 3.6 metres in length - and was stolen from the home of the Henry Moore Foundation - which means they are well aware of what can be achieved by those who are most determined!
- Henry Moore bronze figure stolen from open-air sculpture park in Scotland (The Guardain October 2013) - Standing Figure taken from Glenkiln Sculpture Park in Lincluden Estate, which also features works by Rodin and Epstein
Finding a new location
Tower Hamlets Council's statement says
Three organisations put in bids to provide a home to the valuable artwork, for up to five years.However this might not be her last resting place.
Following a detailed and independent scoring process, including representatives of the Henry Moore Foundation, it was agreed that Canary Wharf Group had set out the best plans to make Old Flo accessible to residents whilst ensuring the security of the renowned sculpture, amid fears that it could be stolen for its bronze metal value.
Without a high level of security the sculpture would not have been possible to insure.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets indicates that she may be on the move again.
“Whilst I would have loved to see Old Flo returned to her old home in Stepney her considerable value means we’ve had to find her a safe and secure home for her for the next five years. My hope is after that she can move even closer into our community, possibly at the new Civic Centre in Whitechapel when it is complete. In the meantime Canary Wharf will be a great and accessible home for Old Flo allowing her to once again add to Tower Hamlets’ already enviable reputation as a creative and cultural borough.”I'll just be glad to see her back in the borough!
For those wondering where Cabot Square is see the red marker sign on the map below. It's a hop skip and a jump from the nice security men who are stationed at the roundabout monitoring coming and goings of all vehicles entering the estate.
- Henry Moore sculpture 'Old Flo' set for London return | BBC
- 'Old Flo' makes her way back to London from Yorkshire | The Guardian
- 'Old Flo' sculpture to return to Tower Hamlets as new Canary Wharf home confirmed | Evening Standard
- ‘Old Flo’ set to return to Tower Hamlets in new Canary Wharf site | East London Advertiser (yet another so-called local news report which just parrots the Council's press release!)