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Flash mob protest in Tower Hamlets in bid to save Henry Moore’s ‘Old Flo’

Old Flos and a Henry Moore lookalike protest outside Tower Hamlets Town Hall. Old Flos and a Henry Moore lookalike protest outside Tower Hamlets Town Hall.

Monday, November 12, 2012
10:04 PM

A ‘flash’ protest mob turned up at Tower Hamlets Town Hall today to protest against the proposed sale of Henry Moore’s Old Flo sculpture.

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The protest took place this afternoon. Picture: Isabel InfantesThe protest took place this afternoon. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Mayor Lutfur Rahman has put the 8ft bronze artwork, Draped Seated Woman, up for auction at Christie’s, in the face of a public outcry.

Figures from the art world turned up outside the council offices in east London, many dressed as ‘Old Flo’ draped in shawls sitting on the ground.

A pipe-smoking Henry Moore lookalike even turned up, American artist Jessica Voorsanger, to express her anger.

The flash protest was ‘sparked’ by lecturer Bob Smith from the London Met University’s Cass art school in Whitechapel.

He said: “It’s madness to sell this sculpture. Moore took his inspiration from his drawings of people down the air-raid shelters during the Blitz.

“That image is so tied up with the East End’s wartime air-raid shelter disaster at Bethnal Green.

“Hitler tried to destroy the East End, while after the war artists like Moore and architects were rebuilding it.

“The vision and foresight of previous generations should not be dismantled and sold off to cover the ineptitude of the Town Hall.”

He now plans a campaign to urge auction houses not to accept the sculpture for sale—and might even plan a ‘flash’ protest if an auction goes ahead.

But Christie’s confirmed this afternoon that Tower Hamlets Council had instructed them to offer the sculpture at public auction in February.

The 1.5 tonne work was given to the people of the East End as a ‘gift’ for a knock-down price in 1962 by the artist to be erected on a working-class council housing estate.

It was put up at Stepney’s Stifford Estate where it remained until the estate was pulled down in 1997 and sent to Yorkshire Sculpture Park for “safe keeping” for the past 15 years.

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