Image: Detail of Henry Moore (1898-1986), Reclining Figure Holes, 1976-78, The Henry Moore Foundation Gift of the artist, 1977 © The Henry Moore Foundation 2016

In 2017 The Lightbox celebrated its 10th anniversary having first opened its doors on the 14 September 2007. The first major exhibition to mark this milestone was 'Henry Moore: Sculpting from Nature'. This unique exhibition featured over 50 artworks by Henry Moore (1898-1986), perceived by many as the greatest British sculptor of the 20th century. The show included drawings, maquettes, working models and monumental sculptures, plus prints and studio materials. The works were generously lent by the Henry Moore Foundation, the charitable trust set up by Moore and his family in 1977. The Foundation is based in Perry Green, Hertfordshire, on the 70 acre site that was home and studio to Moore for over forty years.

Henry Moore's 'Library of Natural Forms'

Henry Moore was inspired by the natural world that surrounded him. Moore’s childhood memories of exploring the Yorkshire dales and playing on coal slagheaps contributed to his appreciation of both the rural English countryside and its juxtaposition with industrial Britain.  From a young age, Moore collected natural or 'found' objects including bones, skulls, flint stones, driftwood and shells which he kept in an orderly 'library of natural forms'. The exhibition will showcase how these organic shapes were repeatedly used by Moore, even in the creation of some of his most iconic figurative work.

"The human figure is what interests me most deeply, but I have found principles of form and rhythm from the study of natural objects such as pebbles, rocks, bones, trees, plants… There is in nature a limitless variety of shapes and rhythms… from which the sculptor can enlarge his form-knowledge experience." - Henry Moore

Henry Moore used this 'library of natural forms' to inform and inspire his transformative working process which involved many stages, often not following a linear pattern. A single flint might inspire a series of sketches, or else be incorporated into a maquette through the addition of plasticine. 'Sculpting from Nature' gave visitors new insight into Moore's methods by displaying finished works alongside over 100 of the found objects that inspired them, and the various working models that demonstrate how his sculptural ideas evolved.

Highlights of the exhibition included early transformation drawings from the 1930s which chart the process of recording in great detail a huge variety of natural forms. Moore's series of elephant skull etchings were displayed alongside the skull he owned, which he considered one of his prize possessions. Central to the exhibition was be the sculpture 'Reclining Figure Holes', an important work inspired by the human form which was Moore’s last carving, completed at the age of 80. The exhibition also featured two bronze sculptures, the evocative 'Working Model for Draped Reclining Mother and Baby' (1982) and the striking yet simply named 'Head' (1984).

#HenryMooreNature

21 January 2017 – 7 May 2017