Portable Sculpture

18 May – 29 August 2021

Exhibition in Galleries 1, 2 and 3

We're delighted to present this new group exhibition exploring sculptures that are deliberately designed to fold up, or pack down, or that have been made while on the move.

Portable Sculpture brings together work from 1934 to the present day. Featuring fifteen artists, including Hannelore Baron, Walead Beshty, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Liz Ensz, Barry Flanagan, Mohamad Hafez, Romuald Hazoumè, Charles Hewlings, Do Ho Suh, Veronica Ryan, Andrea Zittel and presenting new work made for the exhibition by James Ackerley and Claire Ashley.

The word ‘sculpture’ is often associated with large, immobile objects that are weighty and permanent, but sculpture is not always fixed in place: sculpture can be mobile, agile and endlessly adaptable.

The long history of portable sculpture dates back to the small, carved stones made by nomadic tribes during the Ice Age. A combination of unstable geopolitics and sweeping economic change during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has made questions about home and identity, migration and travel, or stability and impermanence ever more pressing. The exhibition explores a variety of responses to circumstances in which permanence is difficult to achieve.

Book your visit

Entry is free, but to ensure we stay Covid-19 safe, we are limiting the amount of visitors we welcome. Please book your visit in advance. We are accepting walk-in visitors, but there may be a short wait.

Book your visit online with Art Tickets


Meet the artists


This series of six films sees artists from the exhibition discussing their work and why they've chosen to make portable sculpture.

Hear from Mohamad Hafez, whose intricately detailed scenes are a powerful illustration of the aftermath of the conflict in Syria; and Claire Ashley, whose inflatable artworks sit somewhere between painting and sculpture. James Ackerley talks about  how his works were designed for swift disassembly when moving studios, while Liz Ensz tells us about their sustainable practice and nomadic approach to making art. Veronica Ryan discusses the use of embroidery in her pillow case pieces and the inspiration behind them, and Charles Hewlings reveals the very practical reasons for making sculpture in a suitcase. 

Watch all episodes here


Online events

A series of research events and activities accompanies the exhibition. Including speakers Professor T. J. Demos (University of California, Santa Cruz), Dr Heather Diack (University of Miami), Dr Jo Melvin (University of the Arts London / Barry Flanagan Estate) and artists Claire Ashley and Mohamad Hafez.






By Alice Morby

“A new show at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds is challenging the monolithic, immovable preconceptions associated with sculpture by presenting works that, by design, can be packed up, taken down and moved on.”

Read the full review on designanthologyuk.com


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