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Finding Friendship: Moore and Sainsbury

Finding Friendship in the archive - by Museum Studies postgraduates from the University of East Anglia.

An Academic Encounter

We discovered that an Archive could be so much more than a collation of information and data when we started work on a student exhibition project at the beginning of the year.

Using letters, photographs and postcards drawn from both The Henry Moore Foundation and the Sainsbury Research Unit's extensive archives, we began to bring to life the relationship between Henry Moore and Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury, founders of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in Norwich.

A Bond in Words

Searching through the Archives, we paused to consider our relationship with the written word – letter and postcard writing in particular – and reflected on how a letter can imply much more than what is inscribed within. It suggests time put aside, care taken and thoughtfulness; perhaps three words that are most needed in a friendship.

A Travelling Cameraderie

What struck us first when viewing the postcards sent by Henry and Irina Moore to the Sainsburys in 1949, and 1977, is the understated beauty of them. The rounded fluidity of Moore's handwriting, the colourful stamps and the placement of the postmark all added to their appeal. The postcards gave us the opportunity to learn about their extensive travels and love of Italy, while also allowing an insight into a friendship between two individuals who were not always able to meet regularly, but always made time to keep in touch.