Henry Moore – Upright Motive No 2: Bronze Cross. Bronze cast – Height 330 cm – Water Gardens, Town Centre
Bronze Cross was bought by the Trust in 1963 with the help of a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation. This totemic bronze is also known as Upright Motive No 2 as it is part of a series of works made around the same time. Other Upright Motives include Glenkiln Cross located on the Glenkiln Estate in Dumfries and another is sited outside York Minster. The title given to the Harlow sculpture was agreed after consultation with Moore. There is no documentation of this exchange and the sculpture is now referred to its original name.
Negotiations for the purchasing of the sculpture were done through Sir Philip Hendy. Moore insisted on the location of the work, the Trust was originally going to site it where Eve now stands. By 1963 the Water Gardens and Civic Center had been completed. Keeping with Gibberd’s vision of a modern day Florence piazza, the Trust wanted the most prestigious sculptures to be located in this general area. At that time they were dealing with a lot of commissions and purchases including Eve, Trigon, both of Moore’s sculptures (Family Group was in storage at that time). Another sculpture the Trust considered moving was the Hepworth at Glebelands, but residents protested and this prevented the relocation. Contrapuntal forms by Barbara Hepworth is now listed by English Heritage Grade 2.
In 1954 Moore was commissioned to make a sculpture for the courtyard of the Olivetti building in Milan, where ’…a lone Lombardy poplar growing behind the building convinced me that a vertical work would act as the correct counterfoil to the horizontal rhythm of the building… I started by balancing different forms one above the other – with results rather like North American totem poles – but as I continued the attempt gained more unity, also perhaps became more organic…’ Although the project was never realised, the maquettes that Moore created became the impetus for the ’upright motive’ series. If you have visited Moore’s studio at Perry Green (where he also lived) it is full of small stones and other similar organic objects, you can see the influence these objects had is his work particularly in upright motive.
Upright Motif serves as a good example of how a sculpture’s surroundings can change. The sculpture has always been in this position but the buildings that surround it are obviously a new development. Prior to this development the work looked out onto the landscape. This area was originally designed as an open space with a dramatic vista. Upright Motif is lost in this location. The Trust moved the sculpture in autumn 1997; it will be going to Kew Gardens as part of a temporary exhibition. The Trust do not have the financial resources to move sculpture which is very expensive, they have to wait for opportunities to present themselves. The Kew Gardens exhibition is one of these opportunities, as Kew will pay for Upright Motif to be moved to a new location on its return.
See also Harlow Family Group