Conservation United Kingdom

Long-neglected Moore sculpture to be conserved

The very public and highly damaged sculpture displayed outside the Houses of Parliament is to be finally cared for

Henry Moore’s Knife Edge Two Piece, 1965, Britain’s most damaged public sculpture by the artist, is finally being conserved

Britain’s most damaged Henry Moore on public view is finally to be restored. Knife Edge Two Piece, 1965, which is displayed just outside the Houses of Parliament, is also the country’s most prominent work by the sculptor and is often in the background of televised news reports from Westminster.

The Moore was given to the nation by the sculptor and the Contemporary Art Society in 1967, but as we have revealed (see link above), it ended up with no legal owner because of administrative changes. A month after our article, the government proposed that ownership should be taken on by the House of Commons, with the sculpture being cared for by the Parliamentary Art Collection.

Conservation of Knife Edge Two Piece is due to begin on 16 February in Abingdon Street Gardens, and the 3.7metre-long sculpture will be covered with scaffolding. The surface of the bronze has suffered drastic deterioration, from environmental damage and incised graffiti. The protective lacquer coating will be removed and there will be some surface abrading to remove the damage. The bronze will then be repatinated and treated with wax (probably annually) to protect it against the weather.

The work is being done by Rupert Harris, who has conserved a number of works by Moore. Costing just over £32,000, it will be funded mostly by the Parliamentary Art Collection, along with £11,000 from the Henry Moore Foundation. Conservation should be completed at the end of March.

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