Henry Moore / A Wash and Set for The Archer

Contributed by Christopher Jones on the Toronto Live With Culture Blog



Today on Nathan Phillips Square I ran into Alex Gabov, above, the conservator charged with restoring Henry Moore’s iconic sculpture, The Archer, and Oscar Nemon’s imposing statue of Sir Winston Churchill, around the corner in the north-west quadrant of the square.

Gabov has been professionally cleaning and conserving bronzes in the City’s public art collection since 2000. He detailed how the statues are cleaned and then gently heated with propane to a very high temperature so wax can be applied and hand-rubbed into the surface.

Gabov clearly has a deep love for his work and for the sculptures he conserves. “I’ve touched every square centimeter of this bronze,” he told me proudly. “I feel as if it’s my own.”

“A tourist who saw me working on it once asked me if I was the artist and I paused for a second, debating whether or not to take credit for Henry Moore’s great work,” he laughs.

This is the third time Gabov has worked on The Archer, which was unveiled in front of City Hall in 1966. It is the subject of Murray McLaughlin’s 1975 hit song, “Down By the Henry Moore.” Gabov says The Archer, also titled Three Way Piece No. 2,  should be good for another five years or so and will certainly be looking its best for the 2015 Pan American Games.