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Houghton Hall Moore exhibition starts tomorrow

The major exhibition of the works of famed British sculptor Henry Moore starts tomorrow (Wednesday, May 1) at Houghton Hall and it is an area that the artist had strong links to.

Mary Moore, his only child will be present at the launch along with his grandson, also called Henry.

Large Reclining Figure. 1984 (9399176)
Large Reclining Figure. 1984 (9399176)

Moore, a son of a Yorkshire miner, knew Norfolk well. His brother was a headmaster of a school in Stoke Ferry and is sister lived at Mulbarton, near Norwich.

Most importantly his parents and sister Mary moved in 1922, when Moore was 24, to Wighton.

It was at this home at weekends that the student artist would travel from London and work in its garden.

It was thanks to this experience, born out of necessity for lack of a larger studio, that Moore began to appreciate the value of working immersed in nature.

Moore, who is mainly associated with his studios in Hampstead in London and Perry Green in Hertfordshire, would later say: "To work shut inside a studio at times when theweather is good is like being in a prison."

Reclining Figure: Bone (9399162)
Reclining Figure: Bone (9399162)

Lord David Cholmondley, who lives with his family in Houghton Hall, said: "North-West Norfolk, with its open skies and unspoiled coastline, was a part of England Moore knew well and I feel this connection give the show an additional interest.

"I very much hope that visitors from our region, as well as from further afield, will be excited to find these extraordinary works of art temporarily on their doorstep."

There are eight works by Moore on show at Houghton, inside and outside of the house.

The two real 'eye-catchers' are the reclining figures either side of the house, the white fibreglass Large Reclining Figure. 1984, on thewest side and the monumental Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae 1968-69, on the East side - the first time sculpture has appeared at the back of the hall.

These can be viewed from the famous first-floor Stone Hall and curator Sebastiano Barassi has taken care to link the two works with the travertine marble Reclining Figure: Bone and Bird Form II, two stone sculptures for the classical Stone Hall.

Elsewhere inside Houghton is the extraordinary Elephant's Skull, a gift to Moore from friends after he admired it in their garden. This sparked a whole gallery of drawings, showing his fascination with the marriage between form and nature.

Three-piece Sculpture: Vertebrae 1968-69 (9399131)
Three-piece Sculpture: Vertebrae 1968-69 (9399131)

Mr Barassi said: "The whole exhibition really revolves around that idea of Moore being an artist who finds his inspiration in nature."

He said that Houghton had posed a unique problem for a curator of having an embarrassment of riches in which to plan his exhibition.

He said: "There are so many possible sites for the sculptures ... the landscape is designed for a sculpture exhibition."

He said he had been given a lot of choice about where the exhibits were placed but he worked in concert with Lord Cholmondeley .

"The last thing I want is for works that we show to impinge on the space, particularly here; this is not a museum but Lord Cholmondeley's home. I wantedhim to be happy with the experience."

Sebastiano Barassi (9399155)
Sebastiano Barassi (9399155)

Most of the exhibits are not behind glass, but visitors are requested to follow a 'no-touch' rule.

The exhibition is open until Sunday, September 29. It is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays until July 18. From July 20 to September 29 it is open on Saturdays too. Gates Open 11am. Last entry 4pm, one hour before closure.

House Opening noon till 4pm (last entry 3.30pm).

Tickets £18 for adults, house, gardens, grounds and exhibition; £12 garden and grounds only; Students (with ID card) £10; Under-17s free.

Book via www.houghtonhall.com or call 01485 528569.

Large Reclining Figure. 1984 (9399193)
Large Reclining Figure. 1984 (9399193)
Maquette for Spindle Piece (9399146)
Maquette for Spindle Piece (9399146)
Bird Form II (9399150)
Bird Form II (9399150)


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