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Cubitts x Henry Moore Institute: a conversation in the archives

Introducing Cubitts x Henry Moore Institute – a series of conversations between Cubitts: The Modern Spectacle Maker and the archival team at the Institute.

Over the coming months we will be examining some key items in our collections and discussing their significance to a host of different topics.

Cubitts recently opened a store in Leeds and they’ve been exploring their new surroundings. We took them around the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers and they set us the challenge to find a range of items in Leeds Museums and Galleries Collection which relate to specific themes.

This month we begin with Henry Moore himself, looking at one of his early sketchbooks.

Errin Hussey (Archivist, Henry Moore Institute): So this is the sketchbook of Henry Moore and we’re really lucky to have this. It's from when he was studying at what is now Leeds Arts University.

He was experimenting with traditional forms, unlike the work he made later in his career. He's also written a lot of text about historical Greek and Italian sculpture and about Egyptian civilisation.

Cubitts: So he came to Leeds to study art around the 1920s, what was Leeds sculpture like at that time?

Errin: There were a few monuments around the city and Leeds Art Gallery was created in 1888 - one of the many galleries funded by the first national lottery. There was a sculpture gallery in there, focusing on traditional sculpture and featuring many copies.

At the same time there was not much in the way of new or very stylistically original works. When Moore arrived he felt there wasn’t enough contemporary sculpture so he began by studying art, and then went on to study on a sculpture course which they actually created specifically for him.

Cubitts: So this influence of Leeds on Moore’s work, did that build a certain affinity for the city within him?

Errin: So later in his career he reflected on Leeds' role in influencing his work. He wanted to return to make the city a centre for the study of sculpture which is why we now have the Institute here today.

Cubitts: And that's what Leeds is artistically known for, its sculpture?

Errin: Yes definitely. We also have Yorkshire Sculpture International which is not just Leeds but the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield. These icons of Yorkshire help to bolster Leeds as a centre for sculpture.

Cubitts: Were Moore and Hepworth peers?

Errin: They definitely knew each other and worked in the same circles, although at times with a bit of friendly rivalry.

Cubitts: It's interesting how generations come up with young artists where you have these pockets of talent.

Errin: When you look at them as individuals you think of them as icons on their own but really you have this big community mixing together and helping each other out.

Cubitts: I think coming to Leeds as a London brand, our store collection, which is unique across each of our retail locations, was heavily inspired by Hepworth and the sculptural tradition of Leeds. This artistic community is really interesting to Cubitts.

Errin: Why did Cubitts decide to open in Leeds?

Cubitts: We had wanted to open a store in Leeds for quite some time. Each of our stores is crafted very differently from each other and Tom, the founder, was patient in his journey on finding the right store in Leeds. So this took a bit of time but he's always wanted to expand north and has been really passionate about modernist art and architecture. Obviously the culture of this and sculpture is so strong in Leeds. We now have our store in the beautiful Victoria Quarter which for us opens up a completely new audience which is great to expand beyond our core following.

The majority of Henry Moore archival material can be found at Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire. Comprising over three quarters of a million publications, documents, images and recordings created and collected from the artist’s working life to the present day. It illuminates Moore’s creativity, passion and curiosity and documents his influence on 20th and 21st Century art. Find out more.

The Henry Moore Foundation have been working in partnership with Leeds Museums and Galleries since we established the Sculpture Study Centre in Leeds Art Gallery in 1982, which led to the development of the Henry Moore Institute in 1993. Our unique collaboration sees us working together on the collection, study and presentation of sculpture. Leeds Museums and Galleries’ sculpture collection lies at the heart of our work together, and is underpinned by the curatorial and research expertise of the Henry Moore Institute.  

Turning the Pages

Examine Moore's sketchbook for yourself with our virtual software, Turning the Pages.

You can find more interactive versions of Moore's sketchbooks in our online collections.

Henry Moore, History of Sculpture Notebook 1920

The History of Sculpture Notebook 1920 was completed whilst Moore was a student at the Royal College of Art, making regular visits to the British Museum and the V&A.

Launch book

Henry Moore, Notebook No.2 1921-22

Moore completed Notebook No.2 whilst studying at the Royal College of Art. Its pages contain notes on RCA assignments alongside sketches for sculptural ideas.

Launch book


Stay tuned for our next conversation with Cubitts where we’ll be exploring the theme of curiosity.


Images from the Archive: 
Henry Moore’s History of Sculpture Notebook from 1920.
Leeds Museums and Galleries collection, gift of Jocelyn Horner.
Photos: Joanne Crawford.