Henley Standard Property
HOME

Date:

Order your copy Advertise with us! HENLEY PAGES
Delivering the news from Henley on Thames and South Oxfordshire for over 100 years
  News     Sport    Celebrity   What's On Regulars Community Info Henley Standard TV Lifestyle Property Jobs Classifieds Gallery Trade
                               Follow us    Follow us    Newsfeed Search the Henley Standard  
British artist found peace after atrocities
Published 06/05/14



THIS year we are being saturated — quite rightly — with stories and pictures of how the Great War affected people, from Sunday night drama series about volunteer nurses at the front to documentaries on RAF bombing missions.

Meanwhile, in a little gallery just the other side of Maidenhead, a new exhibition tells the story of how the First World War affected a soldier who happened to be also one of the 20th century’s greatest British artists.

Stanley Spencer is perhaps best known as the bespectacled, wild-looking man who featured in a number of graphic nudes he painted of himself and his second wife, some of which rather tainted his reputation towards the end of his career. But this exhibition focuses on his finer works, many of which explore his deep Christian faith and also his adoration of his native village, Cookham, which often features as a backdrop to his paintings.

The Stanley Spencer Gallery, which is run by volunteers but attracts Spencer fans from all over the world, has managed to loan a number of important works from the Tate Gallery for the exhibition, adding to its already impressive collection.

Paradise Regained: Stanley Spencer in the Aftermath of the First World War starts with one such loan, an early self-portrait which he finished at the age of 23 in 1914, a year before he volunteered for the Royal Army Medical Corps.


What a painting! As a young artist, fresh out of the Slade School of Art, he has captured — as all brilliant portraits do — something of the sitter’s internal life. His strong, defiant face looms out of a Rembrandtesque gloom, and there is both pride and hope for the future in his gaze. When he came back to Cookham after serving for two years in an infantry regiment on the Macedonian front he wrote in a letter to his friend Desmond Chute: “It’s not proper or sensible to expect to paint well after such experiences.” But he regained his self-belief after finishing an old canvas he found in the corner of his family home and went on to produce some stunning and very distinctive art.

There are two important works on display at this show which illustrate his idiosyncratic expression of Christianity and his adoration of Cookham, which he called his “Earthly Paradise”. The first is Christ Carrying the Cross, in which Jesus, a ghostly, celestial figure bathed in a white glow, carries his cross in front of the Spencer family home. The village malthouse, a favourite landmark of Spencer’s, is just visible above the trees. But what is most interesting about this work is the contrast between the penitants dressed in grey and the ethereal figures which jut from every window of the house, the net curtains billowing about their shoulders, transforming them into angels.

The second, lent by a private collector, is Unveiling Cookham War Memorial, which was Spencer’s poetic take on a real life event.

Little girls in curious, frilled white head-dresses throng the memorial, and the artist portrays many of the spectators as rather frivolous in their Sunday best, or lounging about on the green. In reality, the event must have been a grim one for Spencer since his brother Sydney died in the conflict, and his name was etched on the memorial.

The exhibition also features an informative video on the exhibition, with recordings of the artist’s voice. But apart from the war angle, there are other excellent works on show, including his brilliant modernist take on The Last Supper, the somewhat disquieting The Bridge, and an enormous (five plus metres long) half-finished canvas of Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta which gives a fascinating insight into how he worked.

lParadise Regained runs at the Stanley Spencer Gallery until November 2. Visit www.stanleyspencer.org.uk

PUBLISHED 06/05/14



 
MOST POPULAR
Sunday Times puts Gillotts 4th in the country
Mayor in meeting walkout
Drivers let off parking fine after council blunder
Empty shop window is filled with goodies
Single raising funds for Cancer Research UK
Woman who brings the world into home design
Penguin stolen from charity shop window
Sue Ryder’s U-turn on Townlands relocation
 
 
LATEST LIFESTYLE HEADLINES
Rehydration is key to a healthy festive season
Seasonal photos could win you a family treat
Tai chi helps general wellbeing
Give the gift of good health
Reflexology is more than just a foot rub
Do not ignore pain, treat it
Pamper and preen for festive season
Simple surgery takes years off
Rare combination of power and fuel economy
All that Jazz
Reform your exercise plan with Pilates
Insanely tough exercise converts into real results
Latest Video View more from   Henley Standard TV
ADVERTISE WITH US
LATEST NEWS HEADLINES
Single raising funds for Cancer Research UK
Fairytale of New York - Living Advent Day 20
Sunday Times puts Gillotts 4th in the country
Defibrillator installed in Mill Meadows
Pupils helping to protect soil
Top Videos
 
Most Popular
 
 
 
 
Higgs Group
HIGGS GROUP
Tel: 01491 419400
www.higgsgroup.co.uk
HENLEY PAGES
Tel: 01491 419419
www.henleypages.com
HIGGS PRINTING & DESIGN
Tel: 01491 149429
www.higgsprinitng.co.uk
HIGGS OFFICE SUPPLIES
Tel: 01491 419499
www.higgsofficesupplies.co.uk
HENLEY LIFE MAGAZINE
Tel: 01491 419449
www.henleylife.co.uk
  HIGGS GROUP, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1AD. Telephone (01491) 419400  
© Higgs & Co (Printing) Limited 2012  |  Registered in England number 1418717