A Henry Moore sculpture is to be returned to the East End after a campaign by Tower Hamlets councillor Tim Archer.
The work, entitled ‘Draped Seated Woman’, and known to locals as ‘Old Flo’, was lent to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1997 after spending 40 years as a fixture on the Stifford estate in Stepney Green.
Mr Archer, the Conservative councillor for Blackwall and Cubitt Town, challenged the Labour-led council to bring it back for the enjoyment of residents, but the council was concerned about the cost of looking after and insuring it.
The Canary Wharf Group has now agreed to instal the sculpture – worth millions of pounds – in a public place and will cover any insurance costs.
Mr Archer said: “It’s good news. We’ve been campaigning to bring the statue back for a long time and the council have finally voted in favour of bringing it back.”
The new site for the sculpture has not yet been agreed, though the Group is likely to choose a location in the Wharf, but Mr Archer said he was keen for Londoners to have the chance to view the sculpture by fixing it at the old London County Council which is two miles from its first home.
Mr Archer continued: “I hope the process will be fairly speedy, because it’s time this beautiful sculpture was able to be enjoyed by the people of Tower Hamlets. They own it and it should be here for them.”
Howard Dawber, strategic advisor to the Canary Wharf Group, said there could be no more appropriate use of its public art budget “than to facilitate the public enjoyment of a piece of art which is already owned by the residents of the borough”.
Local community members have voiced concerns about the lack of any community facilities within the Stifford estate. In 2000, the Tower Hamlets council allotted three abandoned shops to convert into a modern community centre for the area.