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  5. A Frieze For Leeds: Imagining A Sculptural Facade For Leeds Art Gallery In 1968

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5720534A Frieze For Leeds: Imagining A Sculptural Facade For Leeds Art Gallery In 1968
DateSaturday 30th June 2018 to Sunday 2nd September 2018
DescriptionThis intriguing set of drawings and models documents an unrealised project from the 1960s that was designed to revive the entrance to Leeds Art Gallery. Neville Boden, 'Artist's Impression of Leeds City Art Gallery' (1968, gouache and metal foil on paper) Neville Boden, 'Artist's Impression of Leeds City Art Gallery' (1968, gouache and metal foil on paper) Courtesy Leeds Museums and Galleries (Leeds Art Gallery) Between 1928 and 1932 The Headrow - the road directly outside the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery - was widened. The buildings that were demolished suddenly revealed the previously hidden facade of Leeds Art Gallery. Never intended to be seen so prominently, the austere facade designed by W.H. Thorp in 1886 was considered too plain and intimidating, the sandstone having darkened from pale gold to almost black with pollution. A larger gallery, museum and library complex was suggested in 1937, but stalled due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The issue wouldn't be addressed again until the 1960s. "The Art Gallery occupies one of the most important sites in the city yet the face it presents is blank and forbidding. If, however, the existing facade were used as a setting for sculpture the Art Gallery might become one of the most noteworthy public buildings in the country." Appendix II, Provision of Low Relief Sculpture for the Facade of the City Art Gallery, June 1966 Henry Moore Institute Archive of Sculptors' Papers Artists Neville Boden (1929-96), Hubert Dalwood (1924-76) and Austin Wright (1922-2003) were selected to propose a frieze to be installed across the 40-metre facade. All three had been Gregory Fellows at the University of Leeds, making them familiar with both the cultural context of the city and architecture of the gallery. Boden's contribution was titled 'The Bach' and was intended to reference the association between music and the city - especially the periodical festivals staged at Leeds Town Hall next to the gallery. Boden recognised that music was a useful analogy for abstract sculpture and 'has to do with colours and shapes and spaces and the rhythms produced by repeating and varying them'. Dalwood collaborated with the architect and town-planner Tom Hancock, an enthusiast of Victorian buildings. As the facade was not solid stone Dalwood thought it would be difficult to achieve a unified design so he proposed a continuous horizontal relief in reflective aluminium. Wright planned his design around the five sections created by the pilasters, and the forms he conceived were drawn both from architecture and nature; he spoke of spending the entire summer studying a sunflower. The project was displayed under the title Three Ideas for Sculpture in 1968, but sadly was never realised because the future of the building was brought into question. The proposals - displayed here together again for the first time in fifty years - provide an intriguing set of imagined possibilities. Robert Rowe, then Director of Leeds Art Gallery, noted that the display had 'caused a very great deal of interest in Leeds' and the Arts Council agreed that the models should remain in Leeds. Rowe wrote to Austin Wright in December 1968: 'Whatever the future may hold I am sure we have not heard the last of this little episode'.
Time(s)Tue, Thu-Sun 11am-5.30pm, Wed 11am-8pm, ends Sep 2
LocationHenry Moore Institute
Telephone No.0113 246 7467
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Henry Moore Institute
Address74 The Headrow
Telephone No.0113 246 7467
Recorded Information: 0113 234 3158
Opening timesAll year daily 10.00-17.30, Wed 10.00-21.00
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