Letter: Henry Moore could draw

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The Independent Online
TIM HILTON occasionally enjoys provoking his readers, but his assertion that Henry Moore could not draw goes rather further and deserves a rebuttal ('Every picture tells a life story', Sunday Review, 28 August). I would agree that some drawings from Moore's later years, when he was ill, are not of the same level as his earlier work. I suspect that given the choice he might not have wanted them all to be shown; but that certainly does not mean that he could not draw.

His drawings from the 1930s and 1940s, for example, form a strong body of work, especially the Shelter Drawings, carried out during the London Blitz of 1940-41. These drawings, incorporating Moore's own invention of the wax-resist crayon technique, combined with ink and water-colour, did not originate as a formal commission although a number were later purchased by the War Artists Advisory Committee. They were carried out as a spontaneous reaction by the artist to the stations where civilians were taking shelter from the bombs. It was recognised at once that they captured like no other work the mood of the time and the human response to it.

Some years ago, at the request of the then East German government, the British Council organised a tour of Moore's Shelter Drawings. At the Dresden opening I gave a lecture on the drawings to a large audience, including survivors of the 1945 Allied raid that had destroyed the old city. It was an extremely moving occasion since many said that Moore's drawings helped them to see their own suffering in perspective, and to understand rather better the need for a reconciliation between peoples who had inflicted such devastation on each other.

Those drawings are currently on show in Salzburg, Austria, and are attracting similar favourable reactions. There can be few artists whose drawings have achieved such a powerful human response.

Julian Andrews

Gwynedd, North Wales