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Transformation drawings - a working process

Four of Moore's 'transformation drawings' are on show at The Henry Moore Institute exhibition, D'Arcy Thompson's on Growth and Form, until 17 August.

From an early age Moore developed a strong interest and knowledge of nature, in rocks, shells, trees, clouds, landscape, pebbles and bones. It is likely that as a student Moore took an interest in and studied On Growth and Form, published by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson in 1917. It was recognized as a classic in the field of morphological research, studying the form and structure of organisms, and presents a poetic and mathematical study of scale, gravity, order and process.

“Once I really became interested in drawing I tried to find out what drawing was both as a science and as an art... As a student in London I began to realise that good drawing was not copying the model, the tone values, the light and shade... Nor was it even in making the correct proportions... It was an attempt to understand the full three dimensionality of the human figure, to learn about the object one was drawing, and to represent it on the flat surface of the paper”

Henry Moore

Quoted in The drawings of Henry Moore, Alan G Wilkinson, Tate Gallery 1977

Drawing played a major role in Henry Moore's work throughout his career. During the 1930s the range and variety of his drawing expanded considerably, starting with the 'Transformation Drawings' in which he explored the metamorphosis of natural, organic shapes into human forms.

The transformation drawings are interesting because they reveal one of the processes through which Moore worked.

This item of the month weaves together a selection of photographs from Moore's studios at Perry Green; extracts of Moore in conversation or published, some of his transformation drawings; some sculptures from the 1930s and many years later.