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

PUBLISHED: 17:17 12 November 2012

Some of the 'Old Flo' flash mob protesters and a Henry Moore lookalike

Some of the 'Old Flo' flash mob protesters and a Henry Moore lookalike

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A ‘flash’ protest mob turned up at the Town Hall today in defence of Henry Moore’s Old Flo sculpture.

Tower Hamlets 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 to protest 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, who told the Advertiser: “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 generati0ns should not be dismantled and sold off to cover 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 has 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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