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Cubitts x Henry Moore Institute: modernist approaches

For our next conversation with Cubitts The Modern Spectacle Maker we discuss the theme of modernist approaches.

We take a look at the sculptor Bernard Schottlander, discussing the photographs of his public sculptures held in the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers.


Cubitts recently opened a store in Leeds and they’ve been exploring their new surroundings. We took them around our Archive of Sculptors’ Papers and they set us the challenge to find a range of items in Leeds Museums and Galleries’ Collection which relate to specific themes.

Errin Hussey (Archivist, Henry Moore Institute): These photographs are from the archive of Bernard Schottlander – he did a lot of modernist public sculpture. Schottlander created his own foundry and steelworks, and made a lot of commissioned pieces.

Errin: These photographs are more an expression of what he wanted to do – he wanted sculpture to be part of the landscape and part of people’s lives as shapes that you would never get to interact with otherwise.

There are pictures of children climbing all over them and being part of the new forms and shapes. A lot of the time Schottlander’s work was placed in new places like Milton Keynes, where there wasn’t any traditional sculpture, places open to this modernist movement and the new principles of forms and shapes.

Material from the Bernard Schottlander archive. Courtesy Leeds Museums & Galleries (Henry Moore Institute’s Archive of Sculptors’ Papers). Photo: Joanne Crawford.
Material from the Bernard Schottlander archive. Courtesy Leeds Museums & Galleries (Henry Moore Institute’s Archive of Sculptors’ Papers). Photo: Joanne Crawford.

You can clearly see how large the sculptures were from these photographs, which adds to their impressiveness.

Cubitts: Yes, they’re beautiful shapes. Do you see a lot of modernism in Leeds?

Errin: It is interesting – Leeds has a real mixture of traditional sculpture alongside some modernist principles. A lot of the universities have very modernist design. Interestingly enough Bernard Schottlander studied at Leeds College of Art, although there aren’t any of his sculptures in Leeds.

Cubitts: How interesting – there are a few specific buildings where you can really see that modernist influence.

Errin: Out of all the Cubitts stores, what is your favourite design that emulates those modernist principles?

Cubitts: There are lots! It is a really big feature of Cubitts. In our Cambridge store, the doors that open into the optometry room are taken from the Phenella building that is completely modernist in its approach.

We put items in very specific places – it is obsession with detail that we try to emulate, and create something that you don’t necessarily notice but you feel like it creates that atmosphere, which is quite like sculpture in that sense. That object, that thing that ties into different elements within a space. It is really interesting relating it back to Schottlander, and seeing how he fit his sculpture into the natural world. How do you place it?

Errin: Yes, definitely – and also looking at what it is bouncing off.

Cubitts: Exactly, because nothing is isolated.

Errin: Even in the landscape, things are slotted in.

Cubitts: That is the principle behind all of the stores as well, very similar to Bernard Schottlander – which is why each of our stores looks completely different.


Visit the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers

The Henry Moore Institute Archive of Sculptors’ Papers in Leeds is a rich and fascinating collection which tells the story of British sculpture.

The Archive is free to use, but visits must be booked in advance so that we can get items ready for viewing.

Visits can be booked Tuesday to Friday, 10:00–17:00.

Find out more about the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers

Henry Moore Institute

74 The Headrow
United Kingdom

T:  01132 467 467