Rare artworks by acclaimed Yorkshire sculptor Henry Moore go on show in Doncaster

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Rarely seen artworks by acclaimed Yorkshire sculptor Henry Moore have gone on show in Doncaster.

For the first time in 80 years, the world-famous sculptor’s personal and powerful tribute to the region’s miners has come home to Yorkshire for a four month-only expo.

Henry Moore: Drawing in the Dark will run until 26 August at Doncaster Gallery, Library and Museum and will featuring a six-foot high centrepiece bronze sculpture alongside drawings and models – all virtually unknown to the public.

And the display will be their only appearance in the North.

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Works by Henry Moore have gone on show in Doncaster.Works by Henry Moore have gone on show in Doncaster.
Works by Henry Moore have gone on show in Doncaster.

Inspired by his father’s life as a pit-worker in nearby Castleford, the exhibition reveals a very different side to Henry Moore and his art, shedding new light on the life and works of one of the world’s leading 20th-century sculptors, and local lad.

Neil McGregor, art curator for DGLAM said: “We sometimes forget that Moore was the son of a Yorkshire coalminer, but his upbringing clearly had a profound impact on him.

“When he was asked by the War Artist’s Advisory Commission to illustrate the extraordinary contribution and sacrifice coal-miners were making to the war effort, it became a labour of love.”

Between 1941-2, the bleakest days of the war, Moore spent two weeks ‘drawing in the dark’ amongst the pit-workers of Wheldale Colliery in Castleford where his father had worked. He wrote: ‘If you were asked to describe what Hell might be like, this would do.’

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From then on, mining was a subject he’d return to time and again throughout his life.

Coun Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure, Culture and Planning from Doncaster Council said: “Doncaster has a proud mining heritage and I am delighted to welcome this special exhibition of coal mining drawings by Henry Moore to our city.

"This looks to be a fascinating insight into Moore’s life and I hope our residents, visitors and former coal miners enjoy this showcase.”

“You get a real sense of what Moore was thinking and feeling within Doncaster gallery’s new exhibition,” added Neil.

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“Almost three quarters of a million miners were employed in the back-breaking labour, and the industry was a vital lifeline in Britain’s survival during the Second World War.

"By experiencing it first-hand, he perfectly captures this moment in time, especially in his drawings.

"There’s such strength and dignity, such emotive power and humanity, that you can clearly hear Moore speaking to us across the decades.

"We’re also showing two period films about coal-mining – one of which ends with a song written by WH Auden set to a rousing musical score by Benjamin Britten.

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"This is an evocative and immersive experience, where you’ll be transported into Moore’s imagination as never before.”

The Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is the only northern venue for this exhibition, which has been curated by University of Hertfordshire Arts + Culture managed by St Alban’s Museum, and generously supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, and through funding from Arts Council England.

“We’re incredibly proud to be hosting this exhibition, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime show for Doncaster that brings together Henry Moore’s coalmining masterpieces, before they return to galleries across the country,” added Neil.

‘Henry Moore: Drawing in the Dark’ at Doncaster Gallery, Library & Museum is free to visit and open to everyone between Monday to Saturday.

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One of the most significant British sculptors of the twentieth century, Moore was born on 30 July 1898 in Castleford, Yorkshire, the son of a miner and the seventh of eight children.

He is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art, often depicting the human figure.