Henry Moore’s Old Flo made headlines earlier this winter with council legal disputes, but this week another Moore sculpture is in the news under different circumstances. ‘Knife Edge Two Piece’ stands opposite the House of Lords and will undergo significant restoration in the coming months.
Two years ago it was decided that upkeep on Moore’s sculpture near Parliament would be the responsibility of the Parliamentary Art Collection. ‘Knife Edge Two Piece’ may be recognizable to many as it often acts as a backdrop on parliamentary news coverage. The work was gifted to the nation in 1967, but the generous donation left no provisions for future upkeep and conservation.
Placing a sculpture outdoors is a valuable gift to the community, but the lack of environmental control leads to corrosion of surfaces and leaves it vulnerable to defacing. The original patina of the surface as dulled and gone black in places and the work is covered in graffiti.
The conservation, which is set to begin 16 February, will be lead by Rupert Harris Conservation working with consultants from the Henry Moore Foundation. The undertaking is expected to take eight weeks as most of the work must be done carefully by hand. The original lacquer, most of which as worn away, will be removed and the surface thoroughly cleaned. The surface impurities will also be removed before being waxed to help weatherproof the newly cleaned work. It is expected that the sculpture will need to be re-waxed periodically to maintain the original dark golden colour of the work.
Conservation, of course, is a significant cost. It is estimated that the conservation will be £16,190, but additional expenses amounting to £15,855 will be accrued maintaining the work site according to health and safety regulations. The Henry Moore Foundation has supported the endeavour with £11,000, though the rest of the funding will come from Parliament.
Although many are supportive of the endeavour, there are critics of the sculpture who would prefer not to spend government funds on its restoration. In April the public will be able to appreciate Moore’s sculpture in pristine condition and the work will be preserved for future generations.
Words: Emily Sack © ArtLyst 2013