Film ID:
YFA 5850

HENRY MOORE RECOLLECTIONS OF A YORKSHIRE CHILDHOOD

1981

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Description

This is a documentary of Henry Moore looking back at his childhood, aged 83.  In it Henry Moore discusses the influence of where he was brought up in Castleford, his parents and teachers.  Throughout the film a boy represents the reflections of Henry Moore as a boy, wandering around Castleford and doing activities to illustrate Henry Moore’s recollections.  The film also features pupils from Castleford High School.  

The film begins with Henry Moore sculpting a small piece of wood with a penknife. We then see him being driven to the Henraux stone yard in Querceta in the Carrara mountains of northern Italy.  Here he examines a piece of marble that has already been prepared by a stone mason.  The narration relates that Henry Moore visited Florence in 1924, and there are views of the city.  There is a quote from a negative review of Henry Moore’s first exhibition given by a critic at the Morning Post, as we see sheep grazing next to his sculpture, Sheep Piece.  Many other Henry Moore sculptures are shown, large and small, while the narration gives a brief account of his career and standing.  It notes the exhibition in the new City Art Gallery in Leeds and in many other places around the world.

The film switches to show a boy running down a street in Castleford with a mine shaft seen in the background, and the title comes up.

Title – Henry Moore:  Recollections of a Yorkshire Childhood.  

As Henry Moore talks about the influence of one’s childhood landscape, there are views of Castleford and the boy lies on a rock near Brimham Rocks.   The boy continues to wander around as Henry Moore states that one needs to leave the place of one’s upbringing in order to know any different.  He then talks about the influence of his parents, stating that he was one of eight children in a four-bedroomed house, whose mother was constantly working for the family, while his father worked in a coal mine, as we see miners coming up a lift at a colliery, coming off shift.  He states that his father left school aged nine, but that he was self-taught, learning Shakespeare, and would have gone on to great things had he the opportunity.  His father wanted his children to do better in life than he had done, and Henry Moore got a scholarship to a grammar school.  Meanwhile the boy wanders through the railway sidings of a colliery and through a wood. 

Henry Moore then relates a story of when he was at Sunday School, how one of the sermons was about Michelangelo, “the greatest sculptor in the world”, and how this made him want to become a sculptor.  Meanwhile the boy wanders around the back streets of Castleford and in a grave yard at Methley Church, where Henry Moore used to go to visit the grave of his grandmother.  Henry Moore relates how great he felt after confirmation.  He then talks about being out in the countryside and playing cricket and football, as we watch boys playing rugby.    

Then back at Brimham Rocks, Henry Moore tells of how his father once took him to see Idle Rock, and how this solitary rock impressed him.  He relates that he too was solitary as a boy, often skipping school to go to Pontefract Races and other places.  He tells of how his mother had rheumatism, and how he used to rub her back as a boy, and hence he has always been good at “doing backs”.

Titles:  
End of Part One
Part Two

A group of children are looking at Henry Moore sculptures before we see them singing a hymn in school.  Henry Moore recollects that at school he used to sit behind a girl’s house at assembly, and that because of this he was able to identify any girl by looking at just at their legs.  We then see the boy watching girl’s play netball, with the camera focusing on the girl’s legs.  The film follows several pairs of girls walking around in Castleford as Henry Moore talks about his adolescent dating of girls, and how he believes that mixed schools are good things.

He also recounts how he and his mates would watch butchers cut up the meat, as we see scenes from a local slaughterhouse.  He then recollects the games they used to play, both town and country games, including conkers and marbles, and we see both of these being played.  Another game they played was ringy piggy, which involved a sharpened branch called a piggy, which would be flipped up and hit with a stick.  Henry Moore was especially good at carving the pigs, and so was asked by everyone to make one, and so he honed his carving skills doing this.  The game also involved judging distances, also a key part of being a sculptor.  As the boy carries a load of clay Henry Moore relates how he used to make small clay ovens in which to light small fires.  He states that “sculptor is reality”.  

Henry Moore then talks about his sporting prowess as we watch boys returning to school from games.  He played cricket and football, noting how he had just met with one of his former team mates, who remembers him playing on the right wing.   Henry Moore talks about the important influence of teachers as well as parents. He especially liked art classes, and he and two others would do favours for the art teacher, Miss Gostick, “who was marvellous.”  She asked him to make the War Memorial for the fallen during World War One, which is shown.  He also mentions another teacher who was a conscientious objector during the war, which he thought was particularly brave at the time, who helped Henry Moore with his drawing.  He states that the work of sculpting was physically demanding, more so even than a coal miner.  The film returns to where it started, with Henry Moore walking around his sculptor, Sheep Piece.

End titles:
Narrator - Bernard Hepton
The Boy – David Hetherington
His friends – Brian Oakley, Donald Beacroft, Ian Flockton
Music – Robert Hartley
We would like to thank the staff and pupils of Castleford High School and the staff of the Henry Moore Foundation
Camera – Allan Pyrah, Graham Barker, Charles b Wilson
Sound – Don Atkinson, Roger Davis
Dubbing Mixer – Steve Haynes
Editor – Brian Tomkins
Executive Producer – Frank Smith
Producer – John Wilford
Director – Colin Nutley

Finally, the film finishes with some last remarks from Henry Moore, stating that he would often start things without any thought as to how difficult they might be; and that he could thank goodness that he had that nature, where anything seemed possible.