As the Henry Moore Institute held its annual open day for students, In The Middle took a peek inside the world of sculpture and art…
The Henry Moore Institute is Leeds’ foremost centre for sculptural art and last week they held their annual academic open day. It was a day where we were led on an intriguing tour through the galleries’ current Sculpture and Prosthetics exhibitions, given full access to the institute’s extensive library and archive. The event was warm and inviting from the very start, and the overall message was one of inclusivity. Though this was the official student open day, the curator was quick to point out that every day is in fact an open day. All students are not only encouraged to come and see the exhibits, but also to ask any questions and engage in any debate.
The actual exhibit on display was an absolute delight. Aptly titled The Body Extended: Sculpture and Prosthetics, the gallery sought to explore the relationship between the body and the world around us. The first section of the exhibition was as historically as it was artistically fascinating. It charted the necessity for prosthetics after the First World War, using both historical artefacts as well as a range of artistic pieces from the likes of Heinrich Hoerle – whose work made a transition from more cartoonish, to constructivist art.
‘What was clear after the open day, is that the Henry Moore Institute is an invaluable resource that lies just at our fingertips. For anyone interested in art and sculpture, it is quite simply a privilege to have such access to a place like this’
Following this, the exhibit moved from exploring prosthetics as replacement, to prosthetics as enhancement. In this second room were both my favourite and least favourite pieces of the evening. Some pieces from Franz West, which were dubbed ‘unfinished’, encouraged you to actually pick them up and put them on yourself, which brilliantly encapsulated the theme of inclusivity the institute was trying to convey. As with all art galleries however, there were of course some pieces that I simply could not get my head around. Before I got to see my absolute favourite piece of the night, I spent a good five minutes staring perplexedly at a photograph that was, ostensibly, a woman with a very long stick attached to her head. It made her look like the lovechild of a traffic cone and a Dementor from Harry Potter, and I must admit I failed to see the point. But this bizarre dip into the pool of insanity was overshadowed by a short film by Yael Bartana, entitled Degenerate Art Lives. This Dadaist inspired stop-work animation was a symphony in surrealism, exploring the harrowing impact of war on soldiers in a way that somehow managed to be both bonkers and subtle. If for no other reason, you must go to see this short film.
After the gallery, we were lucky enough to be shown around the archives and library of the institute. As the staff eagerly mentioned, this is all readily available to the public. What was clear after the open day, is that the Henry Moore Institute is an invaluable resource that lies just at our fingertips. For anyone interested in art and sculpture, it is quite simply a privilege to have such access to a place like this; you would be foolish not to take full advantage. So please, I implore you, get yourself down there. And for those of you who are especially interested in the world of sculpture, the institute even offers an internship programme as well.
(Image courtesy of The Henry Moore Institute and Jerry-Hardman-Jones)