Featured Sculptor


The subject for this Focus on a Sculpture feature is John Farnham’s Torso, (number 36 on the sculpture map). The article John has kindly contributed is a delight, and it is exciting to learn direct from the artist about his work and the development of his fulfilling and successful career. He provides an insight into the working life of a sculptor.

In addition, he recalls with fondness his friendship with the Gibberds and his ongoing connections with Harlow. His work has been in demand for solo, two-man and group exhibitions in many prestigious galleries and other venues over many decades. He is a favourite with visitors to Harlow’s Parndon Mill Gallery where he exhibits regularly.

From teenage assistant to Henry Moore to renowned sculptor and conservator

John Farnham was born in Perry Green. At 16, he joined his father’s building business which managed Henry Moore’s Estate where John, as a close neighbour, had played as a child with the Moores’ daughter. After two years, John became Henry Moore’s assistant, and remained so until Moore’s death in 1986.

He began to create his own sculptures and exhibited for the first time in 1969. He works mainly in stone and bronze.

His links with Harlow began in 1972 when he became a member of the advisory panel at the Playhouse Gallery for seven years.

After Henry Moore’s death John became sculpture conservator and exhibition organiser at the Henry Moore Foundation, a position he held until 2007, since when he has provided advice to galleries and auction houses.

His sculptures can be found in many parts of the UK and Europe, in public and private collections.

John and his artist wife Lotte live in Braughing. In 2000 they collaborated to produce the Braughing Millennium village sign. Their last exhibition at Harlow’s Parndon Mill was in 2019.

  • To see examples of John’s work, visit his website: www.johnfarnham.co.uk


John’s fond memories of Pat Gibberd’s friendship

Pat Gibberd and I worked together in running the Playhouse Gallery in Harlow, with artists like Sally Anderson, Liz Boast, Angela Godfrey, Frank Fiddler and many more.

I also remember that at one time Pat set up a small gallery of her own in North London, for which I lent her three bronzes. The gallery was broken into and all of my bronzes were stolen. Luckily, the insurance paid out the full value.

In later years, when Pat was not so well and had to go into hospital at short notice, I took over her show she was organising at R.I.B.A. (Royal Institute of British Architects) in London. That gave me a chance to have an exhibition of my own work at R.I.B.A., which Pat organised.

When Harlow Council decided to move the Water Gardens from The High to a new site a short distance away, Pat asked me and David Mitchinson from the Henry Moore Foundation to be on the committee. As usual, Pat had that well under control, and when the new Town Hall was finished I managed to resite the Family Group into its new and present position at the bottom of the stairs leading to the new Gibberd Gallery.  When my wife came over from Austria in 1984 (shortly after Sir Frederick’s death), we spent many an afternoon coffee and many an evening meal with her.

We knew her as a remarkable woman, supportive, relaxed, kind and forgiving. Once we forgot about a dinner date. She rang us up and asked where we were. In total embarrassment we stuttered we were on our way.

Our Torso - University of Herts - Hatfield

See the first “Featured Sculptor” article – Gerda Rubinstein – via the link

Gerda Rubinstein

See the Harlow Art Trust website  for more information on Harlow’s sculptures. Pick up a free leaflet published by the Art Trust for locations.


Harlow Art Trust


Contact Harlow’s Parndon Mill gallery for information about the availability of pieces for sale.

Parndon Mill

Centre Point

Background to TORSO in the garden by John Farnham

I first met Sir Frederick and Lady Pat Gibberd when I was working as Henry Moore’s assistant at his Perry Green studios. I was asked to site the Antanas Brazdys sculpture ECHO for them at the Staple Tye Shopping Centre in Harlow.  I started to see what an amazing collection of art they had built up from the 1950s, covering most of the big names of that time. From then on I was involved in overseeing any problems with the sculpture collection of the town:

  • Removing the Henry Moore FAMILY GROUP when the child’s head got broken off
  • when Rodin’s EVE was ripped off her pedestal in the Water Gardens
  • conservation work on Jesse Watkins’ PISCES in the Water Garden in the Town Park, as well as on other bronzes in the town centre.

I also helped Pat to look after the art works in their own garden, now known as the Gibberd Garden.

It was in the early 70s that Sir Frederick asked me to enlarge a work of mine called CENTRE POINT (photo top) in fibreglass, but I mistakenly thought it would not last as a resin sculpture due to its shape, so I did not follow it up . However, in 1973 they purchased an early bronze of mine called TORSO, created in 1971 (see photo), for their own collection.

It was sited inside the green house* which was later taken down, but the sculpture is still in situ. The TORSO Maquette started off by pressing a flint stone into clay to make an impression, then filling it with plaster, adding more plaster to the form until I was happy with the result.

I had a shadow shape of a disc thrower on my work bench which I incorporated into the final work. This was then enlarged into a Working Model size which is in the Gibberd Garden collection. Another Working Model of TORSO is in the collection of Salford University, and a two metre large version of TORSO is in the collection of the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.


  • The green house referred to above was the ambulatory, to the north of The House. This was orignally covered in glass, thus protecting the sculptures within it. The structure became unsafe and the glass had to be removed, leaving sculpture and plants exposed to the elements.

She and her other guests whom we knew well waited with the meal until we arrived. She was in a wheelchair then, navigating her way round the kitchen and the dining table, refusing any help. Afterwards she smiled and said, she admired us for having two meals that evening, although we had not told her that we had already had a light supper before leaving home.

She loved children. When she had a group of scouts visiting, they went wild and demolished quite a lot of pots and urns in the garden. She found an excuse for their behaviour, convinced that they were really nice children, but it only takes one or two to lead the others astray. She showed a similarly relaxed attitude to the damage a squirrel did after falling through the chimney into the living room and not finding a way out. It damaged a lot of her art work, particularly paper sculptures. But she felt sorry for the squirrel, convinced it would die of lead poisoning, as it tried to gnaw its way out through the lead surround of the window.

Her coffee table was laden with the most amazing toys. She let free reign to our toddler son who was allowed to touch and play with everything. When my wife felt guilty for  not being able to let our baby son cry himself to sleep, Pat told her, she was convinced, babies don’t cry for fun or out of malice. If my wife felt she should console or calm our baby by picking him up, she should do it and not feel guilty.

Sir Frederick and Lady Gibberd have played an important part in my life and I feel very lucky to have known them, particularly Lady Gibberd, who was so kind to my family so soon after her husband’s death.



Snakes Entwined

Head and Fist