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Henry Moore’s Head at Kettle’s Yard

In this blog post, Senior Curator (House & Collection) Inga Fraser, tells us more about a recent loan of Head by Henry Moore.

Regular visitors to Kettle’s Yard will notice that in place of Head – the small stone sculpture by Henry Moore that sits on the ledge next to Jim Ede’s bed is now a bronze version of the same sculpture – on loan from the Henry Moore Foundation. Our stone Head has been loaned to an exhibition at the Holburne Museum in Bath that explores Moore’s small-scale sculpture, focusing on the artist’s interest in sculpture as an intimate art form, rather than the larger monumental works with which Moore is most often associated.

The placement of the stone Head at Kettle’s Yard on the ledge next to the bed in Jim Ede’s bedroom (near to works by Ben Nicholson and Alfred Wallis) is very personal, and indicates the significance this sculpture held for Jim Ede. As Laura Freeman notes in Ways of Life, Moore and Ede had lost touch since the years spent in Hampstead before the Second World War, but they reconnected in 1956 at a party celebrating the publication of Kenneth Clark’s book The Nude. In February 1957 Ede went to Moore’s house, Hoglands, and swapped one of Gaudier-Brzeska’s drawings for the 1928 small stone Head and, in 1962, Ede acquired a second work by Moore, the bronze Sculptural Object from 1960, which is located on the ground floor of the 1970 extension at Kettle’s Yard. By this time Ede was engaged in the project of commissioning new bronze casts from a number of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s plaster sculptures. This enabled the originals to be sold, with the funds raised directed towards covering the cost of an extension to Kettle’s Yard. It also meant that a room could be established dedicated to Gaudier-Brzeska’s work at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, something Gaudier had wished for. It was Henry Moore whose advice Ede sought about the casting, enabling the ‘Gaudier Salle’ to open in Paris at the end of June 1965.

Henry Moore, Head c.1928. Photo: Michel Muller, reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

The temporary replacement of Moore’s stone Head with its cast is therefore representative of the relationship between Jim Ede and Henry Moore at the time of Kettle’s Yard’s founding and early years. Theirs was a friendly reciprocity centred on the appreciation for and promotion of sculpture in the public realm, and so Kettle’s Yard is pleased to have been able to support the exhibition at the Holburne.

Henry Moore, Head, 1928. Photo: Paul Allitt