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Celebrating 100 years since Henry Moore started studying sculpture in Leeds

Release date: Friday, 9 October 2020

Kara Chatten

  • By Kara Chatten
  • Henry Moore Institute
  • Marketing & Communications Manager (Leeds)

The Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Arts University are marking 100 years since Yorkshire’s own Henry Moore started studying sculpture, the first step on his journey to becoming a world renowned artist.

The anniversary coincides with the unveiling of a set of the artist’s notebooks that will be shown in public for the first time at the Henry Moore Institute from Tuesday 13 October 2020.

“It is fascinating to see how Moore started his career in sculpture here in Leeds. While examining the notebooks, I’ve been so aware that from here he went on to develop his own distinctive style and now inspires the students of today.”

Errin Hussey, Archivist at the Henry Moore Institute

“Moore’s fascinating notebooks highlight how different the teaching of sculpture was in the 1920s compared to the present day. A focus on highly specialised craft skills and methods, alongside learning of a singular agreed history, has been replaced by asking questions about the act of sculpting within a social and geographical contemporary context. Sculpture is taught as a possible outcome for an idea rather than about acquiring prescribed knowledge and skills.

Moore’s practice of recording his personal thoughts in the notebooks, which might be described as holding scraps of the artist’s unconscious, also reveals an important similarity with today’s students. They are encouraged to capture daily thoughts, observations and ideas in order to develop a set of building blocks that become the sculptor’s lexicon.”

Professor Sheila Gaffney, Programme Director of Art and Performance at Leeds Arts University

Henry Moore (1898-1986) is widely recognised as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, known for his semi-abstract monumental bronzes, which can be seen all over the world.

Following World War One the artist received an ex-serviceman’s grant which enabled him to enrol at Leeds School of Art (now Leeds Arts University). In September 1920, he started a year-long sculpture course at Leeds School of Art where a sculpture department was set up with Moore as the sole student. The art school appointed a new sculpture teacher Raymond Cotterill, primarily to teach Moore.

The results of this one-to-one tuition can be seen in his notebooks at the Henry Moore Institute, which have been uncovered for this landmark anniversary. Full of sketches of classical sculpture and architecture, along with handwritten notes from his lectures, these notebooks give a unique insight into his formative training and reveal details of the course which focused on the history of sculpture and gave him formal classical knowledge.

Henry Moore’s notebooks are housed in the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers at the Henry Moore Institute, managed by Leeds Museums and Galleries and will be on display in the Henry Moore Institute’s Research Library from 13 October to Friday 18 December 2020.

“Leeds was clearly important to Moore, it is here that he learnt the foundations that led him to become arguably the most influential British sculptor of the modern era. We’re proud to be continuing his legacy here at the Henry Moore Institute by providing an international centre for sculpture in the city where he started his training. His desire to establish the Institute here addresses what he saw as a shortfall of places to experience sculpture in the city where he studied.

Yorkshire Sculpture International, our collaboration with Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park also ensures that this ambition lives on, especially since Moore met Barbara Hepworth while studying in Leeds. This is why we continue to celebrate, enhance and promote the sculptural heritage of the county.”

Laurence Sillars, Head of the Henry Moore Institute

As part of the celebrations, the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art University are linking up to introduce students to Henry Moore. Experts from Henry Moore Foundation will be offering Leeds students the opportunity to examine the work of the sculptor, explore where he came from and the influences that led to him becoming an internationally renowned artist. This partnership has one aim, to encourage the sculptors of the future. 



For further information, images or to arrange to see the notebooks please contact:

Kara Chatten, Marketing and Communications Manager
Henry Moore Institute

Jeanette Ward, PR & Communications Officer
Leeds Arts University
07729 930 812


Notes to Editors

About the Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute is situated on The Headrow, next to Leeds Art Gallery, in Leeds city centre's cultural hub, just a five-minute walk from Leeds Station.

Henry Moore Institute welcomes everyone to visit their Galleries, Research Library and Archive of Sculptors’ Papers to experience, study and enjoy sculpture from around the world. The Institute can be found in the centre of Leeds, the city where Henry Moore (1898-1986) began his training as a sculptor. Their changing programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions and events encourage thinking about what sculpture is, how it is made and the artists who make it.

As part of the Henry Moore Foundation, they are a hub for sculpture, connecting a global network of artists and scholars, continuing research into the art form and ensuring that sculpture is accessible and celebrated by a wide audience.

Twitter: @HMILeeds
Facebook: Henry Moore Institute
Instagram: @henrymooreinstitute
Vimeo: henrymoore

About The Henry Moore Foundation

The Henry Moore Foundation was founded by the artist and his family in 1977 to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts. Today it supports innovative sculpture projects, devises an imaginative programme of exhibitions and research worldwide, and preserves the legacy of Moore himself: one of the great sculptors of the 20th century, who did so much to bring the art form to a wider audience.

About Henry Moore Studios & Gardens

Henry Moore Studios & Gardens is the home and studios of sculptor Henry Moore, located in the Hertfordshire countryside where he conserved and created his internationally recognised sculptures. This rural home and studio served as a profound source of inspiration, what started off as a modest farmhouse grew to a 72-acre estate and became the epicentre of his global art presence.

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am - 5pm from 4 July - 1 November 2020.

The Henry Moore Archive is the world's leading resource on the life and work of Henry Moore. With publications, correspondence, photographs and exhibition material, they welcome enquiries and research requests. You can also access the Henry Moore Archive catalogue online, where you can search nearly 24,000 publications on Henry Moore alongside invaluable exhibition catalogues, press coverage, film and audio recordings.

About Leeds Arts University

Founded in 1846 as the Leeds Government School of Art and Design, Leeds Arts University has contributed significantly to the development of art education in Britain and across the world. In 2016 the University was granted Taught Degree Awarding Powers, and in 2017 was awarded full university status, making it the only specialist arts university in the North of England.

Leeds Arts University has been recognised for its industry-standard facilities at the Whatuni awards (winners in 2014 and 2016, runner up in 2017 and 2018) and is the highest ranked specialist arts university in the UK for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2018. The University was number one for Design & Crafts in the Guardian University League Table 2019 and the winner of The Sunday Times ‘University of the Year for Student Retention’ 2019.

Twitter: @LeedsArtsUni
Facebook: Leeds Arts University
Instagram: @leedsartsuni

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

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