Pop-up artists take to the streets to save ‘Old Flo’

Pic: Bob and Roberta Smith

A movable pop-up art display by the artist known as Bob and Roberta Smith will travel around East London from January 10-18 to gather local community opinion on the possible sale of Henry Moore’s sculpture, the Draped Seated Woman, also known as ‘Old Flo.’

Last October, Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman announced his decision to sell the sculpture to compensate for budget cuts.  But the borough is currently in a legal battle with Bromley Council over ownership of the artwork.

The aim of the artist’s initiative, promoted by the Museum of London, is to find out what Tower Hamlets’ residents think about the controversial plan to sell the sculpture.

Lucy Fitton, Senior Community Collaboration and Adult’s Events Manager for the Museum of London added that the project’s goal is also to know how much they value public art.

She said: “We commissioned the artist before Christmas, hopefully we will get a wide range of opinions.”

Old Flo displayed in Yorkshire. Pic: London Borough of Tower Hamlets

The museum is running workshops with community groups and public drop-in sessions until the 18th.

The Director of the Museum of London, Sharon Ament said: “Henry Moore wanted the people of Tower Hamlets to be able to enjoy his work. This is why we maintain the importance of the sculpture being on permanent, free public display at the Museum of London Docklands or similar space.”

After these consultations with the public, Bob and Roberta Smith will paint a representation of the views of those participating. This work will be displayed at the Museum of London Docklands as part of the ‘Henry Moore and the East End’ exhibition which opened last month.

The East London artist who studied Fine Arts at Goldsmiths in the early 1990’s, often works on political art campaigns.

He said: “Old Flo is an image of a woman sheltering from an air-raid so I am interested to hear wartime stories about people trying to shelter from the Blitz. I’m also interested to hear what young people think about Old Flo – do they think Old Flo represents an image of peace or non-violence for people who don’t remember the war?”

The community workshops are being held around East London. For more information about workshops and public meetings, click here.


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