Recognize this week’s Access Point? Lain Shakespeare did — he was the first to say it was a Henry Moore sculpture at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
I think of this week’s photo as a gentle reminder to visit “Moore in America” before it leaves Atlanta at the end of October. The gardens are lovely on their own, but the Moore sculptures change the way you see it — or, in this case, the way you see what’s in the background.
The show features 20 pieces on loan from The Henry Moore Foundation. “Oval with Points” is nearly 11 feet tall, but you might have missed the bronze sculpture over in the pitcher plant bog, among carnivorous plants that trap and digest insects.
The piece was inspired by an elephant skull Moore kept in his studio. “By bringing the skull very close to me and drawing various details I found so many contrasts of form and shape that I could begin to see in it great deserts and rocky landscapes, big caves in the sides of hills, great pieces of architecture, columns and dungeons…” Moore said the skull
This wasn’t Moore’s only work based on the skull, either. There were smaller sculptures and graphic works,”that echo the spaces and form of the skull.”
Atlanta Botanical Garden exhibitions manager Cathleen Cooke recalls the “Oval with Points” installation as an all-day fiasco with heavy equipment and constant re-adjustments. The garden’s sidewalks were built for people, not cranes, she explains, and after six hours of wiggling this sculpture into place, they were all a little slap-happy.
Still, the bog was the only place for it.
“Sometimes, pieces like that just kind of speak to you. They belong in a certain place,” Cooke says. “We had seen it at the Kew gardens in London on a long, grassy promenade, and then in a turf area at the New York Botanical Garden. We knew here where it was going to go. The void in the middle would frame the skyline.”
Other pieces explore the themes of mother and child, reclining figures, organic forms, interlocking forms and figures as landscapes. Here are photos from the exhibit, and more from the sculpture installation.
When they’re gone, Cooke says, garden regulars will miss the giant sculptures.
“It’s like when you take all your holiday decorations off,” she says. “The garden is beautiful year-round, but there’s a little sense of loss when it leaves. It looks like it just belongs in the garden.”
When they day comes, they’ll be prepared to face “Oval with Points” again — they’ve allotted an entire day to remove it.
Want to go? “Moore in America” continues through Oct. 31. Atlanta Botanical Garden. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through October, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays November-March. $5-$16. 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-876-5859, www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org.