Henry Moore Foundation,
The Henry Moore Foundation
Dane Tree House
Herts SG10 6EE
Tel: + 44 (0)1279 843 333
The Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green is a little bit out of the way so your navigator’s map reading skills (or your Satnav) will be useful to get you there. You can find a map on the www.henry-moore.org site along with other useful bits of information such as when it is open and the entry prices (basically it closes for winter and spring; in 2016 it will open from 1st July). When you see the Hoops Inn you know you’ve found it. We mistakenly parked in the pub car park. A nice new tarmac with several disabled parking spaces, it does have a path from there to the Foundation. This path starts off as a wood chip path running by the side of a field but peters out into rough grass before getting to the Foundation itself. Of course once there we discovered that there is a perfectly good car park there too with some disabled parking spaces... so Di went back and moved the car.
Our trip Out there to the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens was prompted as a follow up to our visit to Waddesden Manor, where there happened to be a Henry Moore exhibition when we were there with our friends, John and Sue, and they joined us here too.
Having got our tickets and resisted the cake of the day offering we headed to the House and Gardens. There is a quiet road to cross to get from the ticket office to Hoglands (the house). The house itself wasn’t open when we went (it will be in 2016 with guided tours) but our aim was to look round the grounds this day.
We were, however, able to wander around the outside of the house and look through glass into a studio before going round the back to the gardens. We followed the signs to the gardens leading through the flower beds and came up against 3 steps down to the main sculpture park.
To be fair, when we bought the tickets we were told that Titania and I would have to go round out of a gate to the left of the house round and back in through another gate to circumvent the steps. So Titania and I left the others and went to find this alternative route. Through the gate there was a gravelly lane running beside the hedge which eventually led to the second gate.
The group reunited off we went to find some sculptures. The paths were good for Titania, although to get close to the sculptures we needed to go over the grass. The sculptures are large and impressive, and also very tactile so you do want to get close to them. The grass was kept pretty short, so Titania didn’t struggle too much.
When we bought the tickets we were given a map of the grounds which enabled us to identify the sculptures as we walked around. Our route took us down via Working Model for Sundial, Draped Reclining Figure, Knife Edge, Seated Woman, Goslar Warrior, Vertebrae, and Figure in Shelter, with a look at Family Group before a stop at the Maquette Studio. Here another 10cm step provided an obstacle to Titania’s entry. A little effort to gain entry into the studio proved worthwhile to get a good insight as to how some of the mammoth sculptures were developed. A very knowledgeable member of staff answered all of our questions and more!
After leaving the Maquette studio we would be entering areas advised against for Titania when we were buying the tickets, but the map showed sculptures in the fields and woodland walk and we were ready to give it a go. First we went into the field from where we could see the Large Reclining Figure on the horizon. Through the gate and on amongst the sheep; Titania came across lots of evidence sheep (if you know what I mean – well it was a field full of sheep) so, in the hope that we wouldn’t smell for the rest of our visit, Titania and I stopped our trek through the field and let the others go on to get close to the Sheep Piece and Large Reclining Figure.
Once the sheep had been counted and these sculptures admired, we retreated back through the gate and followed a woodland path to another small (sheepless) field with more small Upright Motives sculptures at one end and an imposing Arch at the other end. Eventually dragging ourselves away from the Arch we went through the woodland walk, spotting a Three Piece Reclining figure through the trees.
Beyond that after a while we did find the end of the line for Titania. The path dwindled to a narrow leafy trail which descended to a little bridge which was definitely not for Titania.
We then retraced our steps and walked back through the other side of the sculpture park, visiting each of the pieces which we had missed on the way down, eventually making it back to the gift shop and that cake of the day and a cup of tea.
We had all enjoyed the walk around the sculptures, very inspiring it was too. Drawing the sculptures is encouraged and we saw a few people doing so as we walked round. If your artistry comes out more through your camera you will find yourself shooting frame after frame capturing the curves of the artist’s creations in their natural background. Here are some of the photos from our day, probably the best ones courtesy of John ...
So the Henry Moore Foundation was certainly worth a visit. With a little effort you can get close to the magnificent works of art, and you’ll enjoy the peaceful nature of the place. They plan to open a new visitors centre in 2016 which will undoubtedly add to the experience.. we’ll have to go back to try it out ..
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Richard & Di
23 February 2016
Post Script :
We have had some great feedback from Alison at the Henry Moore Foundation. She points out that from 1 July 2016, the new visitor centre will be accessible so that wheelchair users will no longer have problems getting to the shop and ticket desk. There will be more information on the www.henry-moore.org website as the building is still being finished (as at March 2016). The new building should also help circumvent the steps when accessing the sculpture gardens.
Also, usefully for those who find the distances to be negotiated around the sculptures a problem, she mentions that they have mobility scooters available to borrow (book in advance) and there is an adapted , narrow wheelchair to enable visitors to access Moore’s former house.
Thanks for the feedback Alison!
R & D
18 March 2016