Henry Moore’s "Arch" returns after 20 years to London park
“Unsafe” sculpture has been reinforced
By Martin Bailey. News, Issue 237, July-August 2012
Published online: 19 July 2012
Henry Moore’s The Arch, 1980, is due to be unveiled in London’s Kensington Gardens on 20 July—nearly 20 years after it was encased in scaffolding and dismantled. The Royal Parks, which manages the gardens, has finally restored the huge marble sculpture, which once again will overlook the Serpentine lake.“None of Moore’s public sculptures have been so threatened since his death,” says Anita Feldman, the head of collections and exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation. Richard Calvocoressi, the foundation’s director, once described it as “shameful” that The Arch was lying in pieces in a park store for so long, although he is delighted it has now been successfully re-erected. Colin Buttery, the deputy chief executive of the Royal Parks, says that there was “a lack of momentum” until just over two years ago, but since then progress has been swift. Moore donated sculpture to the Department of the Environment in 1978 (ownership later passed to the Royal Parks), but by 1993 it became clear there were structural problems. Made of seven blocks of travertine marble, and weighing 60 tonnes, it was deemed unsafe. The 19ft sculpture was initially encased in scaffolding and then dismantled three years later. In 2004, The Art Newspaper began a series of articles drawing attention to its plight.Initially it was assumed that part of the problem was that each of the two “legs” of The Arch had rested on separate foundations. However, because of the time that had elapsed, it had been forgotten that this was not the case. It was only when a sculpture by Anish Kapoor was being temporarily installed on the site in 2010 that an “archaeological” dig revealed that The Arch had sat upon a single foundation. After taking technical advice on how to strengthen the structure early this year, new steel columns were inserted to join the seven blocks. This involved the use of computer projections, which would have been impossible 20 years ago. The cost of the project is expected to be £200,000 and the Royal Parks is hoping that part of this will be met by sponsorship.
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