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Old Flo is coming home! Multi-million pound sculpture to return to Tower Hamlets

19The highly anticipated return of Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture Draped Seated Woman known

locally as “Old Flo” moved a step closer today after it was announced she is to be hosted in

Cabot Square in Canary Wharf.

The sculpture which was nearly sold off will finally make her way back home to Tower Hamlets

this Autumn.

Old Flo was originally housed on the Stifford Estate in Stepney and remained there from 1962-

1997 after her creator, Henry Moore gifted the artwork to the borough.

For the last 20 years, Old Flo has been on loan to Yorkshire Sculpture Park meaning residents

have been unable to easily view her.

Three organisations put in bids to provide a home to the valuable artwork, for up to five years.

Following a detailed and independent scoring process, including representatives of the Henry

Moore Foundation, it was agreed that Canary Wharf Group had set out the best plans to make

Old Flo accessible to residents whilst ensuring the security of the renowned sculpture, amid fears

that it could be stolen for its bronze metal value.

Without a high level of security the sculpture would not have been possible to insure.

Canary Wharf Group also demonstrated the ability to position it in an area of high footfall, where

it is visible to the people of the East End on a 24/7 basis, as Henry Moore originally intended.

The new contract will also deliver a multitude of community and educational benefits to local

people and ensure information about Old Flo and the Stifford Estate where she was originally

installed is easily accessible.

The sculpture will be no further than 20 minutes away for all residents wherever they live in the

borough making it accessible to all.

Just a few years ago Old Flo was nearly lost to the borough to be sold off at auction by Christies’

after a decision was made the previous administration to sell the multi-million pound sculpture.

When Mayor Biggs was elected in June 2015 one of his first decisions as Mayor was to save Old

Flo and start the process of bringing her back to the borough.

Old Flo was nearly lost again to Tower Hamlets after Bromley Council contested ownership of

the sculpture in a high court dispute in 2015. The judge ruled in favour of Tower Hamlets being

the rightful owners.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said:

“I am delighted that Old Flo is finally on her way back home to Tower Hamlets and the people of

the East End.

“Old Flo is an important part of the borough’s cultural heritage, that’s why we took the decision to

cancel the previous Mayor’s sell off and are returning her to her rightful place in the borough.

“Whilst I would have loved to see Old Flo returned to her old home in Stepney her considerable

value means we’ve had to find her a safe and secure home for her for the next five years. My

hope is after that she can move even closer into our community, possibly at the new Civic Centre

in Whitechapel when it is complete.

“In the meantime Canary Wharf will be a great and accessible home for Old Flo allowing her to

once again add to Tower Hamlets’ already enviable reputation as a creative and cultural

borough.”

We received some excellent bids to host her, but the Canary Wharf Group put forward the best

arts initiatives for our residents, along with robust plans to keep the sculpture safe and in a good

condition.”

Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Canary Wharf Group said:

‘I am honoured that Tower Hamlets have allowed us to host this exquisite piece of art on the

Canary Wharf Estate. It really is something very special to connect with our wider community and

we look forward to the arrival of the sculpture later this year. I am proud of the work that Canary

Wharf Group does to support projects that help to improve the lives of residents around our

developments and seek to be a good neighbour in Tower Hamlets.”

Godfrey Worsdale, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation said:

“The Henry Moore Foundation is very pleased that Draped Seated Woman 1957-8 is finally

returning to Tower Hamlets after a careful and rigorous process. Like Henry Moore himself, the

Foundation is committed to the artist’s work being seen and enjoyed by as many people as

possible, and we hope that this new home will introduce Moore’s work to new and diverse

audiences.”

Peter Murray CBE, Founding & Executive Director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park said:

“Millions of visitors to Yorkshire Sculpture Park have enjoyed this significant and well-loved work

since it went on display at the Park in 1997. We are very grateful to Tower Hamlets for the loan

and we are delighted that a new home has been found for the sculpture."

Old Flo is due to come back in October after playing a starring role in Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s

40 th  anniversary celebrations during the summer.

During WW2, Moore was employed as a war artist and was inspired by the figures he saw

huddled in air raid shelters which were the subject of many of his sketches which led to the

creation of Old Flo.

Seven casts of the completed sculpture were made, which are currently displayed in, Germany,

Israel, America, Australia and Belgium. Old Flo measures around 2.5 metres in height and

weighs 1.6 tonnes.

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