Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Body and Void Exhibition at The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green.

Last year, on its last day, I went to see the Rodin Moore Exhibition at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire. I loved the exhibition and wrote my review with enthusiasm. I realised, however, that it might have been a better idea to visit the exhibition on the first day so that my review could be read by other people in time for them to be able to visit Perry Green! This year when I heard of the Body and Void: Echoes of Moore in Contemporary Art Exhibition, again at Perry Green, I decided to go early and write my review in plenty of time! So ... this is it.

My husband and I tootled off through the Hertfordshire countryside of high hedgerows and picturesque villages last Friday. The skies were grey, but, to be honest, whatever the weather the Henry Moore Foundation is always a treat to visit. Its like stepping back in time, to a place where the world is quiet apart from the gentle hum of bees and the rustling of the wind through leaves.

We bought our tickets in the little shop and were shown where to go by the very friendly lady behind the counter. You will find, if you visit, that one of the best things about Perry Green is the staff, largely volunteers, who man the galleries and workshops. They are all friendly, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable about the art on display. They are eager to share their joy, which I find infectious!

We wandered off around the beautiful gardens of Hoglands, Moore's home, where his and other artists sculptures are installed. The Body and Void Exhibition is a celebration of Moore's work and legacy. Artists such as Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and Richard Long have been invited to contribute work to the exhibition, alongside work by not only Moore, but Thomas Schutte, Paul Noble, Antony Gormley and a host of others. It is fascinating to see how Moore has influenced and inspired a whole generation of artists.

Rachel Whiteread's Detached 3 2012
One of the first pieces we came across was Rachel Whiteread's Detached 3. At first glance, walking across the grass, you think its just a shed, one of many buildings scattered around the grounds, but then you realise that this is a concrete cast of the inside of a shed. It is the hidden space, the void, which is usually never seen. There is something brilliant about this idea to me. I loved the idea of making solid something that is normally hidden and unconsidered. As we went into the Body and Void gallery we saw another Rachel Whiteread work which, again, cast the void in solid form...

Rachel Whiteread Pink Torso 1995 ( photo courtesy of britishcouncil.org)

Can you see what it is? The space inside a hot water bottle ...  a space you would never normally see. I loved that idea!

The theme of the void is something that Moore explored and with Reclining Figure: External Form 1953-54 he combines this with another of his favourite subjects, the reclining female figure. The form is hollowed out to show not only the voluptuous curves of the body, but also the interior spaces. As with many of Moore's works I just feel compelled to touch the surfaces, explore the curves and textures. Beautiful!

I think that another thing I love about Perry Green is the continuing inspiration Moore gives to up and coming artists and students. As we walked around the grounds there were, and always are, people sitting on the grass or standing near the sculptures, sketch books in hand, drawing. The calm is captivating.

Henry Moore Two Piece Reclining Figure: Cut 1979-81

For me, one of the strongest images, and one that had not struck me so intensely previously, was that of the void between two forms. Above you can see Moore's figure cut in two. The void between the two pieces is as powerful, if not more so, as the bronze pieces themselves.In my opinion there is an energy between two forms that used to touch and no longer do, or almost touch and never will. This theme is seen again and again, not only in Moore's work, but that of others too ...

Henry Moore's Working Model for Oval with Points, Michelangelo's Adam, Des Hughes' One Thing Leads to Another, Damien Hirst's Mother and Child (Divided),
I think my husband thought I had lost my mind, but I could really feel the energy in those spaces. I love that something that is not actually 'there' can be so powerful! When we visited the Body and Void gallery and saw Damien Hirst's Mother and Child (Divided) I just couldn't bring myself to walk between the two halves of the animals. It seemed somehow wrong - a space between two halves that should never have been separated. Again the space was very powerful - the act of separation intense.

As always I loved visiting Perry Green and its treasures. We visited the gallery, but also the workshops and here the staff were keen to give us insights into the works displayed. Their nuggets of information are so fascinating! If I was more knowledgeable I would love to volunteer there! They manage to share what they know without making you feel like an ignoramus - rather that you are part of an excellent adventure into the world of Art!!

The Body and Void Exhibition is on all summer until 26th October 2014. I really recommend it for an inspiring day out. Let me know if you go!!


Helloitsgemma said...

Love this, great review. Thank you.

sarah at secret housewife said...

Hi Gemma! I'm so glad you like it! Thank you! x

vodkaangel22 said...

I was there last week too, so was very interested to read your take on the exhibition. I'm a big fan of Henry Moore anyway and it was great to see how his work has influenced contemporary artists. The Moore/Rodin exhibition last year provoked a similar reaction regarding the complementing artworks. But this time, Hirst's "Mother and Child" piece left me feeling the most conflicted. It was art provoking a reaction in a most surreal way. Thanks for this review... it was interesting!

sarah at secret housewife said...

Hi Vodkaangel22! Thanks for commenting. Its a lovely place isn't it?! I found the Damien Hirst very disconcerting too and I'm glad you thought my review was interesting! Sarah

Emma Julia said...

This sounds like a wonderful exploration of space, form & relationships. And so pretty to boot!