London outside the city: in the gardens of the Henry Moore Foundation

One of London’s best kept secrets is only 20 minutes from Stansted Airport, through which millions of travelers pass each year seeking to get to the city center and completely unaware of the beauty of the regionhidden behind the unsightly industrial buildings of the airport.

When an air attack damaged his home in Hampstead in northwest London in 1940, British sculptor Henry Moore and his wife Irene decided to move to the delightful hill country of Hertfordshire.just 43 kilometers from London, in the countryside Perry Green.

At first they rented half Hoaglands – the house of a former farm – but quickly, thanks to Moore’s creative success, they were able to buy out the entire property, adding lots and buildings year after year, converting farmland into a studio and open-air museumcelebrating the art of Henry Moore as well as the surrounding nature.

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Henry Moore

After World War II, Moore’s career took off; in 1946 he had a retrospective exhibition at the MoMA in New York, and in 1948 he won the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale.

In 1977, at the age of 79, the sculptor decided to create Henry Moore Foundation, to encourage the recognition of fine arts, in particular sculpture, and to preserve its artistic heritage. Today, the Foundation has two headquarters:Henry Moore Institute in Leedsthe city where he started his career as an art student, as well as the region in which he was born, and Henry Moore Studios and Gardens at Perry Green, a few kilometers from London. It was here, in the place he loved most in his life, that Moore died in 1986.


The sculptor’s love for this place and his joy of creativity are evident to visitors to the Gardens. Moore is especially famous for his large sculpturesi which, through organic forms oscillating between anthropomorphism and abstraction, interact with the surrounding landscapes and play with size and perspective. Since his sculptures would live outdoors and the influence of nature was so important in his work, Moore wanted to create workspaces that were always exposed to the changing seasons, weather and local wildlife.

Workshops to visit today still filled with items that inspired Mooreto make this concept clear: large windows from which one seems to touch the surrounding hills, semi-open spaces, and even a work hut set on a rotating platform so that the artist can enjoy the best angle depending on the day.

One of the Foundation’s most intriguing ateliers is Bourne Maquette Studio, as it encapsulates the relationship between Moore, the surrounding landscape, and his art. In a space of modest dimensions, every surface is covered with mockups—completed, unfinished, broken—of works destined to take Yunoska’s scale. As the visitor’s eye scans the shelves and tries to make sense of the chaotic multitude, he begins to distinguish forms that are not created by the hands of the artist, but in amazing harmony with his sculptures: animal vertebrae, roots, silica fragments and shells.

The atelier has a beautiful window that frames the pastures right behind it. On the windowsill lies a row of quartz formations. This is an extremely curious stone – in childhood, most of us learn that Paleolithic hunters made weapons from this material: blades, arrowheads or spears. We are accustomed to seeing him in the history books, carefully carved, in a jade-green robe. However, “natural” silica is completely different: with an extremely plastic and complex curved shape, the outer coating of the stone has a calcareous color, undulating from brown to chalky white, and the inner one, visible as yolk only with fragments of stone, is formed from the familiar gray-green quartz.

When the gaze moves from the windowsill, attracted by the movement of grazing sheepwe see another figure on a hill about 300 meters away that echoes the minerals on this side of the window. Large reclining figure is a bronze sculpture 3 meters high and 9 wide, the largest work ever created by Moore, peacefully sharing a pasture with a flock of sheep. Indeed, a visit to Henry Moore’s studio and gardens goes beyond the gardens and allows visitors to discover sculptures immersed in the world of farmland.

Visiting artists’ workshops and residences is often a special experience, as they have the opportunity to discover what no critical text can give: intimate connection with space, everyday landscape, type of terrain and trampled or collected forms, to feel them. hand. This sense of entry into the creative process is especially strong in Henry Moore’s studios and gardens, where the legacy of the British Modernist master lives on with every cycle of the seasons.

How to visit

By car: Unfortunately, the Foundation is located in a rural area where there is no bus service. Therefore, it will be necessary to arrive by car. You can also take a train from London to Bishops Stortford (one station from Stansted Airport) and from there take a taxi in about 15 minutes.

Opening: The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens are open to the public from early April to late October (check website for exact dates and daily opening hours).

Resources: The Foundation’s official website contains all the news about temporary exhibitions and working hours.

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