Art Diary

Harlow Sculpture Town

1 April 2021

This week’s Apollo Art Diary picks out four outdoor sculpture trails and exhibitions that you can still enjoy while the long wait continues for UK museums to reopen…

The Essex new town of Harlow, which has just under 90,000 inhabitants, might seem an unlikely locale for one of the finest public sculpture collections in the country – but with its more than 100 works by the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin, it is hard to dispute the council’s claim that this is ‘the world’s first Sculpture Town’. The Harlow Art Trust was set up in 1953 to purchase and commission works for the town, built in the wake of the war to rehouse Londoners who lost their homes in the Blitz; in the early years, it provided important early commissions for recently graduated artists such as Ralph Brown, and the town continues to provide opportunities for young sculptors through its residency programme. Last year, the town launched an interactive online map, with photographs and information about all of its sculptures. If you live in Harlow, it’s the perfect tool for plotting visits to the sculptures – and it’s a fun way to enjoy them vicariously if you don’t. Take a tour of Harlow Sculpture Town here.

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Upright Motive No. 2 (c. 1955–63), Henry Moore. Photo: James Smith

Meat Porters (1959), Ralph Brown.

Meat Porters (1959), Ralph Brown. Courtesy Harlow Art Trust

Screenshot of the Sculpture Town website