Old Flo's ownership questioned
3rd January 2013
Draped Seated Woman
1957-58 bronze (LH 428) sited at the Stifford estate, Stepney c.1962
Draped Seated Woman, affectionately known as Old Flo, was originally bought by London County Council from Henry Moore in 1962. It was due to be sold at auction next month, but its ownership by Tower Hamlets Council has been questioned. Following discussions with the Art Fund, the London Borough of Bromley has written to Tower Hamlets Council to assert ownership of Old Flo after significant new evidence came to light. Please follow the link to the right to find out more via the Art Fund website.
Bromley Council has pledged not to sell the work but to display it for the benefit of the public, as Moore intended. The Henry Moore Foundation will continue to work with all parties concerned to try to keep the sculpture in public hands and on public display. For now, the sculpture remains at Yorkshire Sculpture Park where it has been on loan. It was removed from its original site on the Stifford Estate in 1997, when buildings around it were demolished.
The following letter, published in The Observer on Saturday 3 November explores our concerns.
We would like to express our concern about the proposal by the mayor of Tower Hamlets to sell the sculpture Draped Seated Woman by Henry Moore. While we understand the financial pressures that Tower Hamlets faces, we feel that the mayor's proposal goes against the spirit of Henry Moore's original sale to London County Council at a favourable price on the understanding that it would be placed in East London.
The presence of the sculpture in Stepney was a demonstration of the postwar belief that everyone, whatever their background, should have access to works of art of the highest quality. That is why Moore was so delighted to see the work sited as the centrepiece of a housing estate in London's East End.
We appreciate that times have changed and that the costs of protecting the sculpture are demanding, but we believe that there are a number of sites in the borough where the work could be safely placed for the benefit of the community. We hope that Tower Hamlets will reconsider and find a suitable location that continues to honour Moore's idealistic vision.
Mary Moore, the artist's daughter; Richard Calvocoressi, director, Henry Moore Foundation; Nicholas Serota, director, Tate; Danny Boyle, film director and producer; Peter Murray, director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow; Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield; David Adjaye, architect; Jeremy Deller, artist.
We support the Art Fund's campaign to keep Old Flo on public display, and we hopeTower Hamlets Council to reconsider the Museum of London's offer to display, conserve and insure the sculpture in a public setting. Find out more by following the link to the right.