Rushanara Ali MP welcomes breakthrough moment in campaign to save Henry Moore sculpture, ‘Old Flo’, and return her to Tower Hamlets

Rushanara Ali MP welcomed the ruling made at the High Court confirming Tower Hamlets Council’s legal ownership of the Henry Moore ‘Draped Seated Woman’ sculpture, popularly known amongst residents as ‘Old Flo’.

When the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets announced in 2012 his plans to sell the sculpture to private bidders, Rushanara Ali MP established the Save Old Flo campaign. This campaign went on to mobilise 3,000 residents to oppose the sale and return it to Tower Hamlets for public enjoyment, which was the original intention of Henry Moore’s generous gift to the people of Tower Hamlets after the Second World War.

The campaign also attracted the support of the film director and Olympic opening ceremony director, Danny Boyle, MPs, Tate Modern Gallery, Art Fund, the Museum of London Docklands and Whitechapel Gallery and others. Queen Mary University and Morpeth School also offered free premises for the future site of the sculpture.

Reacting to the High Court judgement, Rushanara said:

This High Court ruling is a breakthrough moment for our Save Old Flo campaign. With the previous Tower Hamlets Council Mayor’s plans to sell off this historic sculpture now shelved, this announcement is another step towards bringing ‘Old Flo’ back home.

“Henry Moore essentially gifted this sculpture to the people of Tower Hamlets, and they took Old Flo to their hearts. Her return to Tower Hamlets is so important because it stands as a reminder that art really matters to our community, and should be accessible for all.

"There is still work to be done. The new Tower Hamlets Mayor now, however, has a real opportunity to broker a deal which guarantees the security, financial viability and long-term future of Draped Seated Woman. We hope to work alongside all interested parties in making sure 'Old Flo' returns home safe and sound and is available for public enjoyment.”



Notes to Editors:

1)      For further information or comment please contact Rushanara Ali MP’s office on 0207 219 7200.

2)      Rushanara secured a parliamentary debate on the future of the sculpture in December 2012, which you can read here.

3)      The Save Old Flo campaign was backed by Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield, Henry Moore’s daughter, Mary Moore, and many in the art world, including Richard Calvocoressi, director, Henry Moore Foundation; Nicholas Serota, director, Tate; Danny Boyle, film director and producer; Peter Murray, director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow; David Adjaye, architect; Jeremy Deller, artist. You can read more about 'Old Flo's long exile' here:

4)      The sculpture’s association with Tower Hamlets goes back as far as 1960, when Henry Moore sold Old Flo to London county council at a substantially reduced ‘gift’ price on the understanding it would be situated and displayed in the community. Based on Moore’s war-time sketches of a woman sheltering from the Blitz in the East End, the sculpture was housed at the Stifford housing estate in Stepney. After the Stifford estate was demolished, the sculpture was loaned to the Yorkshire sculpture park in 1997, where it still resides.