Sheep may safely graze. And, on the evidence of the rolling grounds of the Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green in Hertfordshire, they may do so even more picturesquely in the vicinity of monumental bronze and fibreglass pieces by Britain's best-known sculptor, who died in 1986.
Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was in attendance at this pastoral retreat last week to open a new gallery, the Sheep Field Barn, where smaller sculptures, maquettes and works on paper are displayed together for the first time. The steel-framed building, a reconstruction of a 1970s barn ordered by Moore and then used mainly for storage, could well be of interest to schools and other institutions in itself. Designed by architects HawkinsBrown, it cost only half a million pounds to build and, thanks to underfloor heating and automated vents in the external cladding, running costs are expected to be only about pound;5,000 a year. No air-conditioning is necessary.
The inaugural exhibition in the barn, Henry Moore: Thoughts and Practices, includes some revealing pages of small drawings and watercolours showing how the larger pieces were planned as well as several familiar finished works. Among these is "Harlow Family Group" from the mid-fifties, a figurative piece in Hadene stone showing two adults and a child exuding warmth and affection as well as solidity and certainty. This makes an interesting comparison with "Mother and Child", an abstract two-piece composition in rosa aurora marble which still conveys the closeness of the parent-child relationship without any suggestion of the human form.
Outside, the huge structures seem to fit naturally into the landscape. But nothing compares with the imposing "Large Reclining Figure" viewed across the fields of sheep and sculptures, magisterially "resting" upon an incline against the sky.
Other studios near the new gallery provide an insight into Moore's methods and inspirations. Here you may come across an elephant's tusk, a whale vertebra or a piece of polystyrene marked out in blue for cutting, a forerunner of a piece in elm or marble. The peaceful atmosphere of Perry Green is to be preserved, but visits for school groups can be arranged between April and mid-October. Entry for students and under-18s is free. Information: 01279 843 333 Peace would not be the objective of the jazz fm workshops organised with the help of Liverpool Hope University College in schools in the North West of England. The Nat Birchall Quartet demonstrates the basics and variety of jazz to students studying music and, during a workshop, provides tips on improvisation. The day ends with a rousing concert in which students take part. For information: 0161 877 1004 The focus will be on singing on the second day of the National Festival of Music for Youth on July 6. Singposium '99 is a one-day course for all who work with young singers. Experienced tutors will help you "kickstart" your choir, improve your conducting, show you how to encourage nursery and primary children to find their singing voices and much more. The day will be run by Music for Youth with the Association of British Choral Directors. For application forms contact Abigail Appleford at Music for Youth: 0181 870 9624 Later that day, Music for Youth, with the support of Trinity College, London, will present a celebratory concert featuring young choirs from around the country in a Youth Choirs of Britain Concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Tickets: 0171 960 4242 Many school choirs are already working on the TES Millennium Anthem, but some free CDs are still available. To secure one, send pound;1 (pamp;p) to TES CD Offer, Bradley Stoke North, Patchway, Bristol BS32 0PP. Or visit the TES website for the score and lyrics: www.tes.co.uk.
Characters from The Wizard of Oz sprung newly to life in this year's National Schools Theatre Make-up Competition. The winner was Malvern Girls' College's realistic Tin Man. The annual competition is run by the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama and sponsored by Treasure House of Make-up. Winning schools receive a half-day make-up demonstration and pound;100 worth of Grimas make-up as well as a trophy and individual prizes. The theme for 19992000 is "Pantomime", with the finals scheduled for March next year, Schools interested in taking part should contact the Secretary of the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama, Mrs Ann Jones, 73 Berry Hill Road, Mansfield, Notts NG18 4RU. Put your best faces forward.