Hiding in the barrels made by neighbour Carson the Cooper, imbibing the aromatic smell of sawdust at Proctor’s the furniture makers, even the slaughtering of animals in the local butchers, the young Frederick (later named Mac by friends), found the natural craftsmanship of country town life, allied to the beautiful scenery that still delights, crucial to his later artistic career.
And what a career it was! Explore his recreated studio – only Henry Moore himself and a handful of other sculptors have received such an honour – and you not only sense the ambience in which he worked but can trace his imaginative journey, from groundbreaking surrealism to quirky 60s experimentation to captivating figurative sculpture, in the work displayed around you.
The dimensions are exactly those of the Holland Park studio which he built in his garden in the early 1950s and where he worked until shortly before his death in 1992. A canopy at the front and side is identical too. All that is missing are the wood shavings on the floor, as his grandson noted. Displayed around the walls are maquettes (the early stages of sculpture) bronzes, figures and masks.
A pair of slippers and an overcoat are among dozens of personal items that powerfully suggest the presence of the artist in the packed annexe next door. Here you can see his set of tools, the cans of paint he used, even the original wood from which he carved his masterpieces.