Work to return Henry Moore's famous sculpture 'The Arch' to its original home in Kensington Gardens is nearing completion in time for summer visitors to enjoy.
The Arch, a six-metre high Roman travertine sculpture, was presented by the artist to the nation for siting in Kensington Garden in 1980 - two years after his eightieth-birthday exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London. It was positioned on the north bank of the Long Water in a commanding position where it was enjoyed by visitors to the park until 1996, when it became apparent that The Arch had become structurally unstable.
The Royal Parks began a final project in December 2010 with partners at The Henry Moore Foundation to determine if, given its previous problems, it was possible to return the sculpture to the Gardens.
After an 18 month review of the detailed structural surveys, a plan was commissioned to carry out a trial re-assembly of The Arch by the contractor PAYE. Following the success of this work and the restoration of the stones, The Arch has been rebuilt in its original location in Kensington Gardens and will be completed by late July.
Ever since it was carefully dismantled and put into store in 1996, discussions have been ongoing about the restoration needed to reinstate it. From the outset, The Royal Parks and The Henry Moore Foundation - a charity set up by Moore during his lifetime - worked closely. In the sixteen years leading up to this successful restoration, The Foundation has given guidance in the form of specialist in-kind conservation support, and funded decisive engineering studies.
In January this year, under the Project Management of Rider Levett Bucknall on behalf of The Royal Parks, contractors PAYE were appointed to undertake the work needed to return The Arch to its former glory. Since then they collected the seven stones that weigh a total of 37 tonnes, carefully cleaned and restored them before delivering them to Kensington Gardens, where they have been assembled within a scaffolding framework.
As part of the restoration and installation work a new internal skeleton of stainless steel doweling has been created to overcome the previous structural issues. Travertine stone from the same quarry in northern Italy has been sourced to make repairs to the structure as natural as possible.
The project will cost The Royal Parks up to £200,000 with £125,000 having been spent so far. The organisation is seeking funding from external partners towards the work and the landscaping that needs to be done to the area around the sculpture.
Colin Buttery, Deputy Chief Executive and chair of the project board, said:
"It has been a long held ambition of The Royal Parks to return The Arch to Kensington Gardens for the enjoyment of the public. When we began this final phase of the project we were not sure it was even going to prove possible such was the concern about its structural integrity. Thankfully modern technology gave us the faith that it could be done without damaging it and to see it take shape, where and as Henry Moore intended it, is very exciting.
"I would like to thank all those involved in the project, particularly those at The Henry Moore Foundation and PAYE, who have helped make our aspiration a reality."
Anita Feldman, Head of Collections and Exhibition at The Foundation, said today:
"It is exceptionally rewarding to see this landmark Moore sculpture resited in its original position to celebrate London's Olympic year, and we are proud to have been instrumental in this successful outcome. I would like to thank the Foundation team for their work on this project over the many years of painstaking research, and in particular to congratulate The Royal Parks for their perseverance and commitment to preserving Moore's gift."
Darren Woodward, Rider Levett Bucknall Project Manager, said:
"Restoring Henry Moore's The Arch in its original location is an incredibly exciting project. We are privileged to play a part in this unique conservation project."
The work exists in three different materials, a bronze version on display at Moore's home at Perry Green, Hertfordshire, and a cast in fibreglass currently on loan from the Foundation and on display in the gardens at RHS Wisley. Enlarged from a maquette (small model) a few inches high, and inspired by a fragment of bone, it 'brilliantly transcends its origins' says Henry Moore Foundation Director Richard Calvocoressi, 'recalling the massive man-hewn blocks at Stonehenge as well as the triumphal arches of antiquity.'
Notes to Editors
About Kensington Gardens and The Royal Parks
Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Kensington Gardens, one of the capital's eight Royal Parks. Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue and the Serpentine Gallery are all located within its 275 acres. Planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds, the Gardens are also home to the popular Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.
The Royal Parks are: Bushy Park, The Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, Richmond Park and St James's Park. The Royal Parks also manages Victoria Tower Gardens, Brompton Cemetery, Grosvenor Square Gardens and the gardens of 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street.
For further information please visit: www.royalparks.org.uk.
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About The Henry Moore Foundation
The Henry Moore Foundation, based at Moore's home and sculpture grounds at Perry Green, Hertfordshire, is a charity set up by Moore, now one of the UK's most active visual arts organisations. It has a worldwide programme of exhibitions and grant-giving. Visitors are welcome to the 70-acre estate at Perry Green, and to the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. www.henry-moore.org.
Two other major projects make this a 'Summer of Moore' in London: the exhibition Henry Moore: Large Late Forms at Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, co-organised by The Henry Moore Foundation, and the long-awaited restoration of his prominent sculpture Knife Edge Two Piece on College Green, at the Palace of Westminster, in time for the Olympic Games.