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Henry Moore at Leeds School of Art: student notebooks from the Archive

13 October – 18 December 2020

In response to the government’s current Covid-19 guidelines, the Henry Moore Institute will be closed from Thursday 5 November 2020 until further notice.

We've linked up with Leeds Arts University to celebrate 100 years since Henry Moore (1898–1986) started studying sculpture at Leeds School of Art (now Leeds Arts University). This display features Henry Moore's student notebooks and archive images of his time at art school in Leeds.

By the age of eleven Moore had decided to become a sculptor and, following his schooling in Castleford, West Yorkshire, he was set to enrol at art school. After service in World War I, Moore received an ex-servicemans grant to attend Leeds School of Art. He began in 1919 and, to make up for lost time, was able to take a two-year drawing course in just one academic year.

In his second year, Moore asked to study sculpture. Rather than rejecting his request, the School reinstated its sculpture department which had closed before the war. In 1919, artist Reginald Cotterill (1885–1966) established the new sculpture course, with Moore as the only full-time student.

Our display in the Research Libaray at Henry Moore Institute contains Moores notebooks from 1920. They reveal his studies of Western art and traditional representations of the body. He wrote about art from Greece, Chaldea, Babylon, Assyria and Egypt while making sketches of the sculptures he encountered. 

In Leeds, Moore became interested in the writings of painter and art critic Roger Fry (1866–1934). Fry’s writing on non-Western art and pure form in publications such as Vision and Design (1920), had a lifelong impact on Moores work. 

Henry Moores notebooks from his time at Leeds School of Art are held in the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. The Henry Moore Archive, comprising documents, images and recordings created throughout Moores working life, is held at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire.


The Research Library is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm. To help us effectively manage the Research Library and allow for social distancing, we are limiting visitor numbers and are asking visitors to book tickets in advance.

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