The iconic sculpture by Henry Moore named ‘Draped Seated Woman’ or as it is commonly known ‘Old Flo’ was unveiled on 25th October in Cabot Square, Canary Wharf after spending 20 years out of the borough. ‘Old Flo’ had originally been displayed outside the Wickham and Ewhurst tower blocks in Stepney before being loaned to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1997. The sculpture was nearly auctioned off in 2015 by the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets Council Lutfur Rahman. This decision was halted after a local campaign was formed called the “Save Old Flo,” chaired by Rushanara Ali MP.
Commenting on the unveiling of ‘Old Flo’ the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow said:
“I’m grateful to the local people along with the arts community who supported our campaign to prevent the sale of ‘Old Flo’.”
“I'm delighted that after years of campaigning and the work of so many local people that we have managed to get ‘Old Flo’ back to Tower Hamlets. Henry Moore chose to donate the sculpture to mark the sacrifice people of the East End made during the Second World War and it is vital that it’s back in the East End.”
“While it’s fantastic to see the sculpture return to the borough, I would like to see it returned closer to the area in which it once stood. I know the current mayor of Tower Hamlets has made a commitment to move Old Flo back closer to Stepney by placing it safely in the new Whitechapel Civic Centre, once it is constructed in 2022. I hope the mayor honours that commitment and also ensures that the legal measures are in place to prevent the risk of a sale in the future.”
“I also welcome the funding from the Canary Wharf group and the opportunity the sculpture will give to young people to learn about our community’s heritage.”
2) You can find more information on Rushanara’s work in Parliament here:
3) The “Save Old Flo” campaign collected just under 3,000 signatures in 2012. A link to the original petition can be found here.
4) On 3rd November 2012, Rushanara along with Mary Moore, the sculptor’s daughter, Richard Calvocoressi, director, Henry Moore Foundation; Nicholas Serota, director, Tate; Danny Boyle, film director and producer; Peter Murray, director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield; David Adjaye, architect; and Jeremy Deller, artist wrote a letter in the Guardian calling for a halt to the planned sale. That letter can be read here.
5) An article detailing the campaign written by Rowan Moore in the Observer from 2012 can be read here
6) On 19th December 2012 Rushanara Ali MP held a Westminster Hall debate titled 'Henry Moore Sculpture Sale'. The transcript of that debate can be read here.