Pop-up bid to stop Tower Hamlets selling Henry Moore’s Old Flo

Artist Bob's Old Flo protest in November

Artist Bob's Old Flo protest in November - Credit: Archant

A pop-up artist who led a ‘flash mob’ protest to stop the selling of Henry Moore’s ‘Old Flo’ artwork is travelling round London’s East End where it was originally installed to get the public involved in his campaign.

The Museum of London has asked the artist known as Bob and Roberta Smith to run workshops at community centres to see what their members think about the ‘Draped Seated Woman’ sculpture that Tower Hamlets council is controversially planning to have auctioned.

These began today (Thurs) at the Stifford Centre in Stepney Green, close to the spot where Old Flo was originally erected by the London County Council in 1962 as a symbol of London’s resilience following the Second World War.

“I’m interested to hear wartime stories about people trying to shelter from the Blitz,” said the artist. “Old Flo is an image of a woman sheltering from an air-raid.

“But I also want to find out if young people think Old Flo represents peace or non-violence for people who don’t remember the war.”

He organised 40 protesters dressed as draped seated women outside the Town Hall in November when Tower Hamlets revealed plans to auction Moore’s sculpture.

The museum is also holding a public drop-in next Thursday (Jan 17) at Bethnal Green’s Oxford House community centre in Derbyshire St, at 3pm, and three the next day—1pm at Tower Hamlets College in Poplar High Street, 1.30pm at Poplar Recreation Ground and 2pm in nearby Chrisp Street Market.

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Museum director Sharon Ament said: “Old Flo was specifically sited on an East End housing estate as a mark of the value put on the living environment of everyday people. Henry Moore wanted the people of the East End to be able to enjoy his work.”

The museum has offered a permanent home for Old Flo as an alternative to selling the 1.5 tonne bronze work, where it could be seen free by the public.