I’ve been carrying out voluntary work in the Press Office since February 2009. I have a degree in the History of Art, and was asked to write a piece on a favourite artwork at the Walker Art Gallery. On visiting I was immediately affected by The Falling Warrior (bronze), originally a public sculpture created by Henry Moore between 1956 and 1957.
The sculpture is seen standing on the first floor, placed centrally, an ornament dominating the interior landscape, and an object designated as the intended focal point of the audiences’ attention.
The sculpture seemingly ‘rests’ on a platform, it possesses a dark, decaying exterior, with a contrasting smooth and rugged organic surface. As one approaches the enigmatic form, one is drawn in; but on closer inspection, the figure is not ‘resting’ – Moore’s human form is abstract, dynamic, expansive, protecting itself with a shield, struggling for life, close to death, a body with no identity, full of ambiguity. Who is this stranger, this ‘falling warrior’?
The sculpture suggests the simultaneous act of birth and death, an infant and a corpse, the beginning and the end, echoing Moore’s experience of the pain and trauma of the two World Wars. ‘I wanted a figure that was still alive…in the act of falling…emphasising the dramatic moment that precedes death’, says Moore.
As the viewer walks away from ‘the falling warrior’, the figure remains on the horizon, evoking history and the past, the memory and experience not forgotten