Bones of Intimacy

Henry Moore, Locking Piece, 1963 – 4, Near to Tate Britain, London 
Henry Moore’s sculpture has an unerring fascination for me and I have been puzzling over this for some months. My musings have brought me to this:

In his exposure of what is always hidden, we are offered a reflection of intimacy; in his positioning of bones that don’t touch but that somehow hover, monumentally, we are offered a reflection of a kind of mystical place at the very core of who we are.


Let me explain!  when I saw a photo of a surgical operation on a knee joint, I was taken aback by the appearance of the bone – it was not yellowy white as it is when seen in a skeleton, but it was white white, snowy white, mother-of-pearl white.  At the time I found it a most moving experience, almost holy – that which is never seen (and rightly so), which is alive and alban, was glimpsed at.  Later on I thought about that bone, about bones, which are the very frame upon which our lives are woven, and I thought that they are symbolic of what is most intimate, what is most private, what is rightly concealed from public view because of its sheer preciousness.  And I thought about how they are so very strong and bear us up, always, and how very enduring they are – so curious that our very bones will outlive us …

I was struck by that passage in the creation account in the Bible when the woman is created by God from the rib of man, and man’s declaration is that she is now ‘Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh’.  What a powerful symbol; a symbol of intimacy, of strength, of endurance, that is to be protected and kept alive out of the glare of others.

And between those so-strong bones that do not touch, is an inexplicable place, a place of so-soft, an almost immateriality that is essential to the whole structure.  That too, is at the centre of who we are; that too is to be guarded for the life-force it is; the place of two worlds.


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