Henry Moore Arena


Henry Moore

John Read shares his memories of Henry Moore, who he filmed six times over 28 years. (1986)


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BBC Four Collections -

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specially chosen programmes from the BBC Archive.

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In the half century or more since his first exhibition,

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the work of Henry Moore has been seen in almost every country in the world.

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He's made a staggering total of something like 900 sculptures,

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many of them immense, as well as thousands of drawings

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and nearly a thousand graphics.

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In one year, when he was in his 80s, he had more than 40 exhibitions.

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In the later part of his life,

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the demand for his work never stopped.

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He received almost every award and honour that one can possibly imagine.

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I believe that Henry Moore is one of the greatest sculptors

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since the Renaissance.

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He's been to the art of sculpture what Picasso was to painting.

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Picasso opened up so many new ways of painting, he was a revolutionary

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in the sense of breaking down all the old ways and suggesting new ways.

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Moore differed from Picasso in this respect.

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Moore, as modern as he may have seemed at the beginning,

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never really lost his contact with tradition.

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He took the whole idea of 19thcentury sculpture,

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threw it away, but went back to what he called

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the world tradition of sculpture.

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By that he meant looking at every culture in the world,

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going back as far as 40,000 years

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to the very sources of sculptural expression.

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But however modern, revolutionary or surreal

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the sculpture may have seemed,

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his fundamental beliefs lay entirely within a humanistic tradition.

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HENRY MOORE: All our judgements of architecture,

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of form and everything else, are based on the fact

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that we are human beings of the shape we are.

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And that we have a height of average between five foot six and six feet,

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that we walk on two legs,

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that we have bones inside us

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and that we can move in certain ways and not in other ways,

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that we understand from ourselves,

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and from our mothers to begin with, softness and hardness.

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All this...

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If you don't, well, learn from your own body,

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you'll learn from nothing.

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And that for me, that the human body is the basis

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of all sense of form that all of us have.

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We learn how far a thing is away from us, as a child,

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by trying to touch the toy in the pram.

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We learn what is upright and so on because we are ourselves.

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If we were like horses and could go to sleep on all fours,

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all our architecture, all our art, would be different.

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Of course it would.

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Of course it would.

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Well, Henry Moore had that way

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of making very unusual and provocative ideas sound as though

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they were common sense and very down to earth.

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I must have known him as a child,

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but I don't have any memories of that.

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The first place I really remember meeting him was here,

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in fact, in this very room. Not a room so much as a studio.

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It was, in fact, Henry Moore's first studio

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when he moved out of London into the country.

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And because the film I made about him in 1950 was the first film

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I had ever made, it was also my first film studio.

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It was, in fact, the village shop once.

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And up the back there was what was the butcher's shop.

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And Moore, I remember, was delighted, when they were digging round there,

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to find the ground was fill of huge shin bones and shoulder blades,

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and I think a lot of these probably gave him

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some inspiration for some of his sculpture.

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He certainly liked wearing a butcher's apron when he was working.

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I made six films about him over, I think, about 28 years.

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The last one for his 80th birthday.

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By then, I was beginning to feel as though I was a member of his staff.

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John.

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Put that...in-between you, put that just...somewhere on the side there.

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That's it, like that. No, it's about.. No. The other.

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Turn it right round the other side.

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It's got a better...

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No, right round.

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No, no. Look.

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No, no, no, no. All right, turn it over again. There.

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Now bring it over here, bring it... That's it, there.

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That'll be better, much better, when you're out of the way.

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You're standing in the light. There you are.

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'When I went to see him, as his 80th birthday approached,

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'I found him as eager to talk about his beliefs as ever.

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'He is, amongst other things, a meticulous photographer

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'of his own work and attends to every detail

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'with almost boyish enthusiasm.'

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Yes... No, I don't want that white edge at the back.

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That's it, there.

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That doesn't matter about having a sharp edge. There we are. Now...

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See, that will make a much better... There.

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Moore's expert knowledge of photography was a great help to me

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when I made my first film there in 1950.

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With the strange and impressive shapes that fill his studio,

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he picks up and carries on a tradition

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that has been extinct in England for 400 years,

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a tradition of expressiveness and truth to material.

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The studio is a workshop in which he turns his ideas into tangible forms.

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At first sight, this world is unfamiliar and puzzling to us.

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But the quality and quantity of Moore's work has a unity

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that could only come from great originality and strength.

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Sculpture of this kind is a challenge to our accepted ideas

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and we must understand the sculptor's approach to his work

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before we can appreciate the work itself.

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The sculptor is distinguished from other artists by his materials

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and by the way he uses them.

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Here are Henry Moore's hands and his tools.

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I learned from Moore a great deal

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about how to place and light sculpture for the camera,

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how to photograph it from many angles,

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how to move the camera right inside

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as though entering a tunnel and walking through it.

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I also learned a great deal about art.

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I think I picked up from him

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the basic sort of sign posts in my own artistic belief.

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It was impossible to work

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so closely with Moore without really absorbing his ideas.

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Henry Moore was born at Castleford in Yorkshire.

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It's a typical 19th-century mining town.

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DH Lawrence was born in a very similar place in Nottinghamshire.

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There must be 100 others like it all over the country.

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Moore has been given the freedom of Castleford.

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They are as proud of him there as they would be

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if he'd played cricket for Yorkshire.

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He was born in 1898 in an ordinary terraced brick house.

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His father was a miner, and a friend of Herbert Smith,

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who helped to found the Yorkshire Miners' Union.

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When times were bad, his mother went out to work.

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There were eight children in the family all together.

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Two died, three became teachers, one was lost to sight in Canada.

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Henry, who went to the local school, was the one who was good at art.

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They still keep there a caricature of his headmaster,

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with his own name, much bigger, alongside.

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He carved it on the back of the school roll of honour,

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which he designed in 1916.

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He also wrote plays, acted in them, and designed the programme covers.

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He was good at pottery,

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and in all these activities, owed a great deal

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to the encouragement of his art teacher.

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As a boy, at school, I liked the art lessons, I liked drawing.

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I used to get my elder brother to draw horses for me, and so on,

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from as early as I can remember,

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but the little incident that clinches the thing in my mind was...

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..our parents used to send me and my younger sister

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to Sunday school on Sunday afternoons to get rid of us, I think, mainly.

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And the Sunday school we went to was a Congregational chapel,

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although we were Church of England.

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And the superintendent every Sunday used to give a talk about...

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..some little moral, it would always have a point to the talk.

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And one Sunday he told us about

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Michelangelo carving the head of an old faun in the streets of...

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In his studio, in the streets of Florence, and...

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But a passer-by stood to watch Michelangelo carving

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this head of an old faun and...

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..after watching two or three minutes, said to Michelangelo,

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"But an old faun wouldn't have all its teeth in."

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Michelangelo immediately, said the superintendent,

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took his chisel, knocked out two of the teeth

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and there, he said, was a great man,

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listening to the advice of other people,

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even though he didn't know them.

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Now, this story didn't stick in my mind, but it's moral -

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but merely that there was someone, Michelangelo, a great sculptor.

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And from then onwards, instead of saying, like most boys might,

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that one wants to be an engine driver and so on,

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this had just pinpointed something in my mind and I knew from then onwards.

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In the early 1950s, Henry Moore could just walk out of the house

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and into this shed, and that was all there was to it,

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and this was the only studio.

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There was a small space outside, a kind of patio,

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which faced the garage door.

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All the work was done within that small area,

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right up till the time when he became

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a really famous and international figure.

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But, of course, as his fame increased, his income increased,

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and with it, the size of his sculpture

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and the extent of the whole operation.

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It became quite extraordinary,

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the way Perry Green became almost a little country of its own,

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as Henry Moore occupied one building after another.

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It spread out over the fields, into the sheds and barns

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and it became a kind of sculpture park.

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'By 1958, his studio had expanded greatly.

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'Now that he was earning more, he could do more.

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'His old studio was used more and more for small pieces,

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'for polishing and finishing off castings and for maquettes,

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'and for the sort of jobs that assistants could do for him.'

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The garden around the house had grown very considerably

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and sculptures were placed in it to the best advantage.

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Beyond the garden, Moore had taken over two large fields

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and a small wood.

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In the first field he built a new studio, well away from the house,

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where he could work both night and day.

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It was built to his own design with doors and roof high enough

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for his largest works

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and a terrace onto which he could move his sculptures.

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This was important because he felt very strongly

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that sculpture meant to be looked at out of doors,

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cannot be made entirely indoors.

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THUNDER CRASHES

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Running a sculpture workshop on the scale that Henry Moore did

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made him something like the managing director

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of quite a large enterprise.

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All the same, he had a very strict routine to deal with all this.

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One wondered sometimes where and when

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he managed to do his actual creative work.

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But he'd have breakfast at eight,

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he would have a meeting with his staff at nine o'clock

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to brief them for the day's jobs.

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He would read The Times, perhaps for half an hour

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and then he would sit down with his secretary

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and go through the mail, things like this,

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before going down to the studios to see what was happening.

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All this took place in a very simple, straightforward domestic routine.

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Really very homely. And if you came down to see him you would have lunch.

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Lunch would be cold lamb, baked potato, something like that.

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Everybody had a bottle of Guinness,

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each separate bottle of Guinness for each plate.

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Each one with its own little opener, I always remember that.

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You do sort of get sidelights on people.

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I remember having a dinner with the abstract sculptor Naum Gabo

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and he chose chicken, spring chicken,

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and watching him trying to carve that spring chicken...

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It was a total disaster -

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within two minutes there was just wreckage on the plate.

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Now, to see Moore carving into a sirloin of beef

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was one of the small joys of life, cos in no time at all

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there was the most beautiful two-piece reclining figure there.

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RADIO PLAYS IN WORKSHOP

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Of course, things could go wrong.

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There was a great occasion once, I think, when a sculpture fell off

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the back of a lorry on the motorway, which puzzled the police somewhat.

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Er... We were lucky once, in fact, if lucky is the word,

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because we had cameras there when something quite serious went wrong.

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'The sculpture was tied by nylon straps

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'to the jib of a massive crane.'

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'The hangar roof, only inches above, created problems.'

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'A false move, a faulty calculation, and the sculpture could slip,

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'the crane overturn, the hangar be demolished.

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'Noack drew the lines along which he would cut.

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'He hoped to take out a whole half-section in a single piece.'

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RADIO PLAYS IN BACKGROUND

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RADIO: '..Whatever you do this Whitsun,

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'you must take your friends to Spedeworth Stock Car Racing...'

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As Noack cut the last few inches, the weight of the sculpture

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was transferred from its base to the straps.

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Anything could happen now.

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RADIO: '..All the places for Spedeworth Stock Car Racing,

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'this Whitsun.'

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MAN 1: Schoen drin. Aber heraus...Sie nicht ziehen.

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MAN 2: Ja, ja.

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MAN 1: Schoen runter... Das kann ruhig ein bisschen hier raushangen.

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'Moore went to lunch.'

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MECHANICAL THRUMMING

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Things began to go wrong.

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The upper section had dropped and its edge fouled the piece below.

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Ugly cracks appeared.

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The crane had no room to manoeuvre and was very nearly off-balance.

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The section had to be cut free.

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MUSIC PLAYS ON RADIO

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'Then it happened.'

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MAN YELLS AND WHISTLES

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The top section had cracked at its narrowest part,

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the plaster was torn, the armature had snapped.

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The falling piece swung into the other half of the sculpture

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and made an ugly dent.

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By the time they'd got the first piece out,

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Moore came back from lunch...

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'Surprisingly, he was calm, philosophical

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'and above all, practical.'

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MAN: No, a little bit more.

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Maybe you can drive it some?

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MOORE: 'It can be mended.

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'I mean, there's... This is what life is.

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'Sometimes you'll purposely destroy a thing

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'to make something else out of it.'

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'Art is not a process of just gradual perfection.

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'You'll have accidents, you'll have troubles, you'll have...'

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'You'll have difficulties.

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'You'll destroy things, you'll discard something,

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'you'll make a new thing, and all this is the way you live.

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'So, you take the rough with the smooth.'

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'I don't think it's very surprising

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'that working with Henry Moore on doing films

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'was an education in itself.'

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Education, I think, was very close to his heart.

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Not only had he benefited so much from hard work

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and education himself - scholarship boy and so on -

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he had the greatest respect for his teachers,

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or some of them at least,

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a great respect for what he got out of museums.

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He had great respect, I think, for teaching himself, as a duty.

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He liked taking people round.

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He liked making films, he liked explaining,

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and he was jolly good at it.

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He knew exactly how to use the television and film medium.

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Primitive art makes a straightforward statement.

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Its primary concern is with the elemental.

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And it's simplicity comes from a direct and strong feeling.

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Which is very different from being simple for the sake of being simple,

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which only leads to emptiness.

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I think you will see what I mean

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if you look at this Mexican pottery figure.

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It was made by someone with a direct and immediate response to life

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to whom art was a channel

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for expressing strong hopes, beliefs and fears.

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Well, this was, for me,

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an important stage of my development as a sculptor...

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..because although I was still mainly a stone sculptor,

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in fact completely absorbed in stone carving...

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..I was dissatisfied with the...

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..usual idea of direct carving,

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in which the forms are all so embedded in each other

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that they don't have a free, independent existence.

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And here I was trying to make... so that, say, this form,

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which is like the shape of an egg, which is the body,

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is completely, almost completely realised,

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though not separated from the rest,

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that is that I was making the forms...

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..realised enough and yet, compact enough.

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It was a very...important stage in my development as a sculptor.

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Also, I was in this, getting the freedom to...

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..mix forms...

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the forms of one thing with the forms of another, and yet,

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perhaps making a unit, a kind of organic unit out of the whole.

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And this I've done at later times.

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I mean, here is the back view of a figure.

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This is a kind of egg.

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This is the sort of head and it has...

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The whole has some sort of sense of a jug, but it is an organic form.

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And I remember a little child, my niece, I think, who was very young,

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when she first saw this, she said, "Oh, an elephant in an armchair."

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HE CHUCKLES Which was a, er...

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I was very pleased that she had felt some real object, some real...

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..person.

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JOHN READ: Sometimes Henry Moore's simple, common-sense explanations

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seemed a bit too simple when one thought about the works that he made.

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He was always ready to explain the sturdy dimensions

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of his female figures by telling that old story of his

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about how he used to rub his mother's back as a child

0:19:450:19:47

to help her with her rheumatism.

0:19:470:19:50

It's certainly true that his chief muse was an earth mother,

0:19:500:19:53

but I wonder sometimes

0:19:530:19:55

if there wasn't also a Venus or an Aphrodite in the background.

0:19:550:19:57

Some of his work seems to me to be sensual and tender,

0:20:010:20:04

extremely beautiful and sexually overt.

0:20:040:20:07

But the erotic content - if that's what we can call it -

0:20:070:20:09

was something he wasn't at all anxious to talk about.

0:20:090:20:12

The whole of life is...

0:20:150:20:17

..is made up of the...

0:20:190:20:20

I mean, if you want to look and if you want to interpret form

0:20:220:20:27

from this point of view,

0:20:270:20:28

then everything is...sex.

0:20:280:20:33

And the appreciation,

0:20:340:20:37

everybody's appreciation of form is built on this appreciation of sex.

0:20:370:20:43

I think that my...

0:20:450:20:47

Part of my early training as a young sculptor comes from being...

0:20:470:20:53

going to a mixed secondary school...

0:20:530:20:56

..where I could look at all the girls' legs,

0:20:570:21:01

all from the age of 12 or 13

0:21:010:21:03

and I could tell you in the school any...

0:21:030:21:07

which girl was which, if you'd only shown me her figure

0:21:070:21:12

from the knee downwards.

0:21:120:21:14

This was... Some of this... I mean, this is a...

0:21:140:21:17

But it isn't that thing that you mean.

0:21:170:21:20

I mean, the fullness of form.

0:21:200:21:24

The tautness of form, all these things are connected with life

0:21:240:21:28

and life is sex and so on.

0:21:280:21:29

So, it's not a...

0:21:290:21:33

It's not a conscious theme that you'll use your brain over.

0:21:350:21:40

I suppose to many people, especially in the '40s and '50s,

0:21:400:21:43

Henry Moore was best known as the man who made sculptures with a hole in.

0:21:430:21:46

In fact, of course,

0:21:460:21:48

the thing he was best known for was the reclining figure.

0:21:480:21:51

But these reclining figures,

0:21:510:21:52

many of which he did just before the war, beautiful though they were,

0:21:520:21:55

were only really admired and known about by a few people.

0:21:550:21:58

The work that made him famous in the popular mind were his drawings,

0:21:590:22:02

not his sculptures,

0:22:020:22:03

and these drawings came about when the war started

0:22:030:22:06

and his friend, Kenneth Clark,

0:22:060:22:07

who was then director of the National Gallery,

0:22:070:22:10

appointed him as a war artist.

0:22:100:22:12

MOORE: 'I used to go into London, two or three days a week,

0:22:120:22:15

'to do my shelter drawings.'

0:22:150:22:17

'It's curious how they all started.

0:22:190:22:21

'To begin with, I hadn't wanted to be a war artist,

0:22:210:22:25

'although I had been asked to be.'

0:22:250:22:27

'Because, to me, there seemed no...'

0:22:280:22:30

'..nothing unusual and nothing different

0:22:310:22:34

'in that early period of so-called Phoney War

0:22:340:22:37

'that made any new experience or gave me any new experiences.

0:22:370:22:41

'But this particular night,

0:22:410:22:43

'for some reason or other we came back by Tube,

0:22:430:22:46

'and it was then that I first saw the shelterers down the Tube.'

0:22:460:22:51

I began to be fascinated by all the people,

0:22:520:22:55

the kind of family life that they were leading

0:22:550:22:58

and these children, still fast asleep,

0:22:580:23:02

although the trains were rattling by and making a terrific din.

0:23:020:23:06

And there, stretched out in front of me,

0:23:060:23:10

were rows and rows of reclining figures...

0:23:100:23:13

Henry Moore reclining figures.

0:23:130:23:15

One imagined that perhaps there'd never been scenes like that,

0:23:220:23:26

so gentle,

0:23:260:23:27

except perhaps when the slaves were all being exported

0:23:270:23:31

from Africa to America.

0:23:310:23:34

In the hulls of slave ships,

0:23:340:23:36

people would be all crowded together like that, probably.

0:23:360:23:39

Sometimes, like in this,

0:23:470:23:49

I was trying to make two people there seem as though they were a sculpture

0:23:490:23:54

or in a tomb because down below it did feel sometimes like a tomb.

0:23:540:23:58

So occasionally, my sculptural interests come into it,

0:24:000:24:05

and I may...distort figures or change them for sculptural purposes.

0:24:050:24:11

But ordinarily, it was me trying to record the...

0:24:110:24:16

..experiences that one had, because it was intensely human.

0:24:170:24:21

There was even humour and so on, occasionally. It was a very...

0:24:210:24:25

And...here there are distortions in a way that,

0:24:260:24:30

like the thinness of the legs,

0:24:300:24:32

and the pointedness that they are to give, well,

0:24:320:24:35

something not consciously,

0:24:350:24:37

but sometimes pointed forms give a kind of sense of fear,

0:24:370:24:40

which other forms don't.

0:24:400:24:42

It was something of a paradox, wasn't it,

0:24:430:24:45

that what Henry Moore became famous for was not the open air

0:24:450:24:49

and the human figure in the landscape,

0:24:490:24:51

which was what he believed in,

0:24:510:24:53

but for these figures trapped and enclosed underground in the dark.

0:24:530:24:56

But, of course, his greatest single contribution, I think,

0:24:560:24:59

to the art of sculpture, was his idea of being able to combine

0:24:590:25:02

one's feeling about the landscape and one's feeling about the human figure.

0:25:020:25:06

Not as two separate things, but as one single image.

0:25:060:25:09

He saw the figure as a landscape, he saw the landscape as a figure.

0:25:090:25:13

A romantic idea - a romantic tradition in English literature

0:25:130:25:16

and in English painting - combined now in one single body of work.

0:25:160:25:20

One of the most characteristic qualities of Moore's work

0:25:240:25:26

is the way in which the contours and shapes of the human figure

0:25:260:25:29

are used to echo certain qualities of landscape.

0:25:290:25:32

For the first time in the whole history of art,

0:25:330:25:35

a sculptor has successfully extended his subject

0:25:350:25:38

to incorporate landscape,

0:25:380:25:40

which hitherto, had remained the painter's domain.

0:25:400:25:43

The flow of a skyline.

0:25:440:25:46

The slope of a hill.

0:25:460:25:48

The qualities of light and shade and of space out in the open

0:25:480:25:52

can affect a sculptor as much as a painter.

0:25:520:25:55

Poets, painters, writers and particularly English artists

0:25:550:25:59

have a long tradition of romantic absorption

0:25:590:26:01

in the emotional relationships

0:26:010:26:03

between man and the natural world in which he lives.

0:26:030:26:06

This very special sculptural quality of landscape,

0:26:250:26:28

rather strange and wild, immensely powerful and monumental,

0:26:280:26:31

was certainly something Moore knew all about

0:26:310:26:34

from his childhood excursions on the Yorkshire moors.

0:26:340:26:37

In the quiet, civilised fields of Hertfordshire,

0:26:590:27:02

his sculptures generated this same power.

0:27:020:27:05

A leg is clothed in a massive cliff face of drapery,

0:27:060:27:11

which flows over a body whose trunk is as strong as the trunk of a tree.

0:27:110:27:14

The shoulder supported on the arm is a hill

0:27:150:27:19

and the head almost a monument or a lookout post on a summit.

0:27:190:27:23

An enclosed field with summer trees and hedges

0:27:280:27:31

becomes a place of mystery.

0:27:310:27:32

Figures half in sun, half in shade

0:27:320:27:35

seem to exercise an ancient and uncanny spell.

0:27:350:27:38

Their bony, fossil-like forms are smooth, immensely strong

0:27:390:27:43

and seem as old as life itself.

0:27:430:27:45

RHYTHMIC DRUMMING

0:27:450:27:47

WIND HOWLS

0:28:130:28:16

There is a remote glen in Scotland which has become

0:28:160:28:18

a kind of sculpture valley.

0:28:180:28:21

By a deserted track, a solitary figure stands like a sentinel...

0:28:210:28:25

and the winds blow between its slender limbs.

0:28:250:28:28

Nearby on rising ground, another group sits in a position of command.

0:28:370:28:40

They embody the idea of royalty.

0:28:410:28:44

The heads of this king and queen are abstracted into shapes

0:28:450:28:47

which combine ancient symbols of majesty -

0:28:470:28:50

the bird head, the beak, the beard, the crown.

0:28:500:28:55

They have about them a fierceness too,

0:28:570:28:59

appropriate to the authority of tribal rulers.

0:28:590:29:02

SINISTER MUSIC

0:29:060:29:08

Yet, in details, the sculptor's vision is intensely realistic,

0:29:160:29:19

suggesting the ordinary humanity behind the symbols of regal power.

0:29:190:29:23

The bodies are smoothed and rounded

0:29:250:29:27

as though moulded and weathered by the elements

0:29:270:29:29

into forms of sinuous strength.

0:29:290:29:31

The king and queen are guardians and rulers of the kingdom

0:29:530:29:56

that stretches beneath their gaze to the distant border.

0:29:560:29:59

Behind, an immense monument in bronze,

0:30:030:30:06

a tonne in weight, rests on the hilltop.

0:30:060:30:09

It can be seen like a beacon for miles away.

0:30:090:30:11

It stands exposed like a massive boulder,

0:30:110:30:15

left there by a glacier thousands of years ago.

0:30:150:30:17

Moore calls this a crucifixion thorn,

0:30:180:30:21

combining in it suggestions of a cross,

0:30:210:30:24

a severed torso and human suffering.

0:30:240:30:28

In 1963, then 65 years old,

0:30:370:30:40

Henry Moore received the highest award

0:30:400:30:43

that a civilian can receive in Britain.

0:30:430:30:45

He was given the Order of Merit.

0:30:450:30:46

Now, that might have been a point, you would think,

0:30:470:30:50

for him to put his feet up and to retire,

0:30:500:30:52

but in fact, he was at his creative peak

0:30:520:30:54

and artists, indeed, don't retire.

0:30:540:30:57

He'd already started dividing up the reclining figure into two pieces,

0:30:570:31:01

three pieces, four pieces.

0:31:010:31:02

There were entirely new ideas and themes emerging.

0:31:020:31:04

One of the best sculptures of that time, I think,

0:31:060:31:08

was his Atom Piece, which dealt with the whole business of atomic power

0:31:080:31:12

and atomic energy within one symbol that he invented.

0:31:120:31:14

He also was able to really do anything he wanted

0:31:150:31:18

in terms of size and scale, there were no technical limits any longer

0:31:180:31:21

to what he could do, there were no financial limits.

0:31:210:31:24

He also began to go to Italy

0:31:260:31:28

and there he bought a small two-bedroom villa,

0:31:280:31:30

a very modest place, in a little seaside town

0:31:300:31:33

that was called Forte dei Marmi.

0:31:330:31:35

Now, Moore was not really the man for family holidays,

0:31:350:31:38

there was always a reason behind these trips abroad.

0:31:380:31:41

And Forte dei Marmi was very near the marble quarries,

0:31:410:31:44

the very famous Carrara marble quarries,

0:31:440:31:47

where Michelangelo had worked.

0:31:470:31:49

To the chemist, marble is just calcium carbonate.

0:31:530:31:57

To the workers in the mountain villages, it's a job.

0:31:570:32:00

To the directors of the Henraux quarries,

0:32:020:32:04

where Michelangelo got his stone...

0:32:040:32:06

it's almost a religion, a mystique.

0:32:060:32:09

WINCH SQUEAKS

0:32:160:32:18

MECHANICAL CLANGING

0:32:180:32:21

MECHANICAL THRUMMING

0:32:210:32:23

MECHANICAL CLANGING

0:32:270:32:29

CLINKING OF METAL TOOLS

0:32:320:32:33

MAN CALLS OUT COMMAND

0:32:330:32:35

CYCLE REPEATS

0:32:350:32:38

Moore, of course, doesn't work up in the mountains,

0:32:570:32:59

but he never fails to get there every year,

0:32:590:33:02

to Altissimo, the highest peak,

0:33:020:33:04

and to talk to people who go with him about Michelangelo.

0:33:040:33:08

MOORE: 'Perhaps I've got a tremendous admiration

0:33:080:33:12

'and obsession almost with Michelangelo.'

0:33:120:33:14

'And to be up in the very same mountain

0:33:150:33:19

'and to have pointed out to me

0:33:190:33:22

'the cave where Michelangelo quarried some of the stone

0:33:220:33:25

'and to realise what difficulties he must have had,

0:33:250:33:29

'what superhuman problems he had to cope with.

0:33:290:33:34

'That, plus the unbelievable romantic impression,

0:33:340:33:41

'the spectacular scenery...

0:33:410:33:44

'He is rather like a runner who could run a four-minute mile,

0:33:440:33:47

'but Michelangelo could run a three-minute mile.

0:33:470:33:50

'This sort of admiration that one has, as I look at the Altissimo,

0:33:500:33:55

'all this comes back,

0:33:550:33:57

'and so it's all mixed up with one's feeling for Michelangelo.

0:33:570:34:02

'He'd have a stronger feeling about the marble than we have

0:34:020:34:05

'because he had to quarry it himself,

0:34:050:34:09

'but I have the advantage, as we all have now,

0:34:090:34:13

'of choosing the stone after it's been quarried for us.

0:34:130:34:16

'We don't have to do all that terrific work.

0:34:160:34:20

'I mean, some of us may grumble, some of us may...

0:34:200:34:23

'think that we have difficult problems,

0:34:230:34:27

'but our problems are nothing compared with what...'

0:34:270:34:30

'..a person like Michelangelo and the problems he had.'

0:34:310:34:34

I think somehow in Italy,

0:34:340:34:36

Moore found that the association with Carrara

0:34:360:34:39

was in some way fulfilling his destiny.

0:34:390:34:42

This feeling that he had for Michelangelo

0:34:420:34:44

was really quite deep and profound within him.

0:34:440:34:47

And, of course, it was quite widely shared there in Italy.

0:34:470:34:50

He used to go to a little beach hut.

0:34:500:34:52

He didn't go to any of the grand hotels or to the beach clubs

0:34:520:34:55

or any of the fashionable places,

0:34:550:34:57

but each year to exactly the same place, a little row of huts.

0:34:570:34:59

And the old lady who was in charge of these huts

0:34:590:35:02

got to know him very well.

0:35:020:35:04

I borrowed his hut for a day on the beach and when we went down

0:35:040:35:08

and introduced myself, she said, "Ah, Henry Moore," she said.

0:35:080:35:12

And then the most eloquent gesture,

0:35:120:35:14

she pressed her knuckles onto her forehead -

0:35:140:35:16

"Henry Moore, Michelangelo".

0:35:160:35:18

'He was very fond of games, very great sense of fun.'

0:35:210:35:23

'Sometimes this came out in the things that he did

0:35:240:35:27

'whilst you were talking quite seriously.'

0:35:270:35:29

In fact, Henry Moore never switched off the sculptural part of his mind.

0:35:290:35:33

As you were sitting there with him,

0:35:330:35:35

he was quite literally sizing you up, weighing you up.

0:35:350:35:39

I can think of several instances of a sort of instinct

0:35:390:35:42

that was always there.

0:35:420:35:43

Talking with him about sculpture and his interlocking pieces,

0:35:430:35:46

he simply illustrated the idea by taking some potato crisps

0:35:460:35:50

out of the basin on the bar

0:35:500:35:52

and fixing them together in different ways to make his point.

0:35:520:35:55

Another time, after we had been filming,

0:35:550:35:57

we were sitting having dinner in the hotel

0:35:570:35:59

and enjoying the meal and enjoying the chianti,

0:35:590:36:02

and he suddenly looked at me and said,

0:36:020:36:05

"I bet I can tell you the circumference of your head."

0:36:050:36:08

Well, I haven't the foggiest idea.

0:36:080:36:10

But he guessed and he measured it with a tape measure

0:36:100:36:13

cos he always carried a tape measure in his pocket.

0:36:130:36:15

You would never find Henry Moore anywhere in the world

0:36:150:36:17

without this little tape measure.

0:36:170:36:19

And he measured my head and he got it right within quarter of an inch.

0:36:190:36:22

He then went round everybody else in the film unit -

0:36:220:36:24

the production assistant, the camera and the camera assistant,

0:36:240:36:27

the sound recordist - measured all their heads,

0:36:270:36:29

got every one of them absolutely dead right.

0:36:290:36:31

And we were very impressed with this

0:36:310:36:33

so we went into the hotel lounge for coffee.

0:36:330:36:34

It was a very respectable hotel, and we sat down on the chintz sofa

0:36:340:36:39

and we said, "Well, come on, Henry, how high is the coffee table?"

0:36:390:36:42

He took out his tape measure - "23 inches."

0:36:420:36:45

It was, he had won again.

0:36:450:36:47

"How high is the lamp standard? What about the sideboard?"

0:36:470:36:50

And here was this amazing scene and England's greatest sculptor

0:36:500:36:53

on his hands and knees with a tape measure, measuring up

0:36:530:36:55

all the furniture to the rather tipsy applause of the film crew.

0:36:550:36:59

In 1972, now in his 74th year,

0:37:010:37:04

the mayor of Florence invited Moore to arrange an exhibition

0:37:040:37:07

in the grounds of the Belvedere fortress that overlooked the city.

0:37:070:37:10

It was to be the most spectacular and comprehensive exhibition

0:37:110:37:13

of his lifetime.

0:37:130:37:14

It was in a wonderful open-air setting,

0:37:150:37:18

in the brilliant Italian sunshine

0:37:180:37:19

and surrounded by some of the greatest art of the Renaissance.

0:37:190:37:21

At the time, Moore saw the opportunity as a challenge

0:37:220:37:25

to show that his own work could stand in comparison

0:37:250:37:28

with the best of the Renaissance, with Masaccio and Michelangelo.

0:37:280:37:31

He had, after all, been to Florence as a student,

0:37:310:37:33

many, many years before to study just those very works.

0:37:330:37:37

Looking back on that exhibition now,

0:37:370:37:39

it seems to me that it was a triumph of vindication.

0:37:390:37:42

Not only of the authority of Henry Moore's work,

0:37:420:37:44

but also of the whole modern movement.

0:37:440:37:47

In four months, nearly 400,000 people came from all over the world

0:37:480:37:52

to see the exhibition.

0:37:520:37:54

Nothing could have been less like the inhibiting atmosphere

0:37:540:37:57

of a museum or gallery.

0:37:570:37:59

The placing of modern sculpture in a setting of Renaissance beauty

0:38:010:38:04

was a provocative act of faith.

0:38:040:38:07

The mood of the visitors was easy and relaxed,

0:38:070:38:10

for in Florence art is taken for granted as a natural part of life.

0:38:100:38:14

The citizens of Florence took the exhibition to their hearts

0:38:190:38:22

and proudly put its exhibits to uses the artist had not foreseen.

0:38:220:38:27

Sculptures were photographed

0:38:270:38:29

as if they were film stars, religious relics or fashion models.

0:38:290:38:33

At times, the terraces of the Belvedere

0:38:450:38:47

had the atmosphere of a fairground or festival.

0:38:470:38:50

It was a public pleasure ground, filled with movement and people

0:38:500:38:54

and prospects of sculpture that continually changed

0:38:540:38:57

with the time of day or the vagaries of the weather.

0:38:570:39:00

THUNDER RUMBLES

0:39:010:39:03

In the Renaissance, Michelangelo had nothing worse to face

0:39:080:39:11

than the patient and deferential Vasari,

0:39:110:39:14

the first biographer of the great artists of his time.

0:39:140:39:17

Moore turned out in the rain to face television cameras

0:39:190:39:22

and journalists with deadlines to meet and planes to catch.

0:39:220:39:25

The great cathedral dome by Brunelleschi,

0:39:310:39:33

the famous tower designed by Giotto,

0:39:330:39:35

the museums and churches filled with works

0:39:350:39:38

by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Masaccio and Michelangelo

0:39:380:39:41

all slipped by,

0:39:410:39:43

an out-of-focus backdrop to a modern artist in the news.

0:39:430:39:46

The big sculptures in the open air, each one sited by Moore himself,

0:39:520:39:56

were what made this exhibition unique.

0:39:560:39:59

One would have had to travel the world

0:39:590:40:00

to see so much at any other time.

0:40:000:40:03

This two-piece reclining figure is Moore's half-scale model

0:40:160:40:19

for a work which stands in the Lincoln Center, New York.

0:40:190:40:22

Oval with Points is one of his latest pieces.

0:40:250:40:28

One edition of this is at Princeton University, America.

0:40:280:40:31

This reclining figure, made in the 1950s,

0:40:320:40:34

is the model for the much larger UNESCO figure,

0:40:340:40:37

which stands in Paris, carved from Roman travertine marble.

0:40:370:40:40

Crucifixion Form, bronze, 1955.

0:40:460:40:50

The best-known version of this stands on the top of a mountain in Scotland.

0:40:500:40:53

Reclining Figure: Arch Leg. One copy in California, another in Jerusalem.

0:41:020:41:07

Torso, 1967. There are nine casting of this.

0:41:120:41:17

There is such a demand for Moore's work

0:41:170:41:19

that editions of six or seven are quite usual.

0:41:190:41:22

King and Queen, 1952.

0:41:270:41:29

There are editions of this

0:41:290:41:31

in Scotland, London, Germany and New York.

0:41:310:41:33

Square Form with Cut, 1970,

0:41:340:41:37

solid marble from Carrara.

0:41:370:41:40

JOHN READ: Of course, at the time nobody believed for a minute

0:41:490:41:52

that that retrospective exhibition in Florence was going to be

0:41:520:41:54

the last Henry Moore retrospective.

0:41:540:41:56

In fact, his exhibitions continued year after year

0:41:560:41:59

in almost every country in the world.

0:41:590:42:01

But sculpture is a tough, hard trade,

0:42:010:42:04

and gradually, as he got older, Moore turned more and more to drawing.

0:42:040:42:08

Now, drawing he used to do

0:42:080:42:09

simply to find out what he wanted to do in sculpture.

0:42:090:42:12

It was a means to an end or a way of training his eye.

0:42:120:42:14

But now he was doing drawing for its own sake.

0:42:140:42:16

HENRY MOORE: I've always been fascinated by sheep.

0:42:180:42:20

I think there's something about sheep which no other animal,

0:42:200:42:24

er, for me, has quite that ancient...

0:42:240:42:28

biblical, er, quality.

0:42:280:42:32

And I began drawing the sheep,

0:42:320:42:34

just merely because I couldn't do my sculpture,

0:42:340:42:37

not because I intend doing, um...a sculpture sheep

0:42:370:42:42

but merely because I enjoy drawing...

0:42:420:42:44

..and I enjoy sheep,

0:42:450:42:48

so that, for two or three weeks, while the packing was going on,

0:42:480:42:53

I came down here each day and drew the sheep.

0:42:530:42:58

And one of the things that I found one could do

0:42:580:43:02

was that, if they came near the window, by tapping on the window,

0:43:020:43:07

the sheep couldn't see inside,

0:43:070:43:08

because it's darker in here than it is in the field,

0:43:080:43:11

but they were curious. They could hear.

0:43:110:43:13

And they'd stand, even for five minutes,

0:43:130:43:16

just looking in this way, just looking through,

0:43:160:43:21

trying to find out where the noise came from,

0:43:210:43:25

and they'd stay like that for nearly five minutes,

0:43:250:43:28

giving me the chance to draw them.

0:43:280:43:29

Same, er...

0:43:320:43:33

So...

0:43:370:43:38

But gradually,

0:43:390:43:41

I got to understand the shape of the sheep better through drawing them.

0:43:410:43:45

To begin with, they were just round, fluffy lumps,

0:43:450:43:50

balls of wool, it seemed.

0:43:500:43:53

But underneath that, one discovered that of course there is the, um...

0:43:530:43:57

..the skeleton and the form of the sheep.

0:43:590:44:02

And gradually, I went on drawing them,

0:44:020:44:04

I understood the shape of the sheep.

0:44:040:44:07

Now I find that I can draw for its own sake,

0:44:080:44:13

and not as I used to,

0:44:130:44:16

with an ultimate motive in the drawing of using it for sculpture.

0:44:160:44:21

Now I can draw and just enjoy the drawing,

0:44:210:44:26

just enjoy drawing from life, drawing from nature.

0:44:260:44:30

But I shall finish this, probably, as a kind of life cycle of sheep,

0:44:300:44:35

because after this period, which I missed by being in Italy,

0:44:350:44:39

there's a period when the sheep are shorn,

0:44:390:44:41

and then they become entirely different creatures.

0:44:410:44:44

I saw it happen, but I wasn't able to spend the time drawing.

0:44:440:44:49

You must be able to guess the right, er, proportions, otherwise you won't.

0:44:490:44:55

I mean, your eye has to be a correct eye.

0:44:550:44:58

You must know whether a thing is too black or too light,

0:44:580:45:01

but it isn't the black and the lightness, and it isn't the...

0:45:010:45:05

You've got to think of it as form, you've got to use perspective.

0:45:050:45:08

A thing that comes nearer to you

0:45:080:45:10

is bigger than a thing that's further away.

0:45:100:45:12

And often, with students drawing a figure, like me drawing you,

0:45:120:45:17

they'll make, instead of making your foot and knee bigger in proportion,

0:45:170:45:22

the same kind of length to it that it would be if you were standing up

0:45:220:45:27

and all in the same plane.

0:45:270:45:30

All those kind of things are things that one learns

0:45:300:45:34

only by a lot of thinking.

0:45:340:45:37

I mean, again, people think that artists

0:45:370:45:40

are people that work for pleasure, by instinct,

0:45:400:45:44

and without ever using their minds.

0:45:440:45:47

There's a bigger intellectual effort in learning to draw properly,

0:45:470:45:52

which Leonardo showed it and Michelangelo showed it.

0:45:520:45:55

Those had great intellects.

0:45:550:45:56

It isn't a God-given gift to everybody, that they can just draw.

0:45:560:46:02

Lately, I've been drawing trees,

0:46:030:46:05

because the trunks of trees are remarkably like human figures.

0:46:050:46:11

I do a close-up.

0:46:130:46:14

This, to me, is like a knuckle or a knee or a breast,

0:46:140:46:20

but there is the solidity and the body, the meat in it.

0:46:200:46:26

And here I was just drawing the trunk and the kind of mother and child,

0:46:260:46:29

or the big and the small, the big trunk and then the ivy growing up it.

0:46:290:46:34

I think if I were an educationalist,

0:46:340:46:37

I'd suggest that drawing should be made

0:46:370:46:39

much more necessary or regular in schools,

0:46:390:46:43

not because you're trying to make

0:46:430:46:46

a nation of painters or sculptors or artists

0:46:460:46:49

but only because you teach grammar and literature

0:46:490:46:52

not because you're trying to make another lot of Shakespeares

0:46:520:46:55

but to make them understand and use language.

0:46:550:46:57

Well, in the same way,

0:46:570:46:59

I think drawing is a tremendous eye-opener to people,

0:46:590:47:04

and it would make their lives much richer.

0:47:040:47:06

Moore, I think, somewhere talked about art as being

0:47:090:47:12

a stimulation to greater effort in living,

0:47:120:47:15

"effort" rather than "enjoyment".

0:47:150:47:17

But then, for him, you see, work WAS enjoyment.

0:47:170:47:19

I once asked him what he felt

0:47:200:47:23

about the general attitude to culture in a modern age....

0:47:230:47:27

..because there are times, in fact, when one wonders, really,

0:47:280:47:31

whether there are not more important things than the arts.

0:47:310:47:34

And he admitted with me that, in fact,

0:47:340:47:36

for many people the arts were not the most important thing in life,

0:47:360:47:39

not, certainly, as important to them

0:47:390:47:41

as they would be to him, to a practising artist.

0:47:410:47:43

But, he said, can you name a single civilisation in the past

0:47:430:47:48

which we don't know about through its arts and its crafts

0:47:480:47:51

rather than its laws or any other aspects, its politics?

0:47:510:47:54

It's the arts and the crafts by which we judge them.

0:47:540:47:57

And he said, every time in history when a civilisation goes down,

0:47:570:48:01

the arts decay first.

0:48:010:48:03

Art, he said, is really like in a chemical formula,

0:48:030:48:08

the thing that they call a catalytic agent.

0:48:080:48:10

It's a tiny, tiny, small element within the whole,

0:48:100:48:15

and yet without it nothing happens.

0:48:150:48:17

Art, to him, is the catalyst of society and of civilisation.

0:48:170:48:22

When he could work no more with the solid forms of sculpture,

0:48:230:48:27

his mind turned to imaginary visions,

0:48:270:48:29

mysterious images where forms emerge from darkness.

0:48:290:48:32

In fluid and airy drawings

0:48:320:48:34

there were vague suggestions of shapes and hills, spires,

0:48:340:48:38

and one felt the mists might clear

0:48:380:48:41

and a new world of form might be revealed.

0:48:410:48:43

Now, around the fields and woods of the countryside,

0:48:500:48:52

where he has worked for so many years,

0:48:520:48:54

his sculptures give me

0:48:540:48:55

a tremendous physical feeling of reassurance and of wellbeing.

0:48:550:48:59

It not only comes from the protective maternal forms

0:48:590:49:02

that he's exploited all his life. One might expect that.

0:49:020:49:05

But also from works which give off immense energies and powers.

0:49:050:49:10

They are symbols of endurance and tenacity.

0:49:100:49:13

In the fields around his home,

0:49:130:49:15

he's placed images as monumental as Stonehenge

0:49:150:49:18

and infinitely more humane.

0:49:180:49:20

Speaking from Henry Moore's own studio in Perry Green, Hertfordshire, John Read shares his personal memories of the artist he filmed six times over 28 years. (1986)


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