Stanley Spencer – Of Angels and Dirt – Hepworth Wakefield

When I went to Cookham earlier in the year, it was a lovely warm day and the little gallery was a joy:  Springtime in Cookham

But, yesterday’s trip had a very different feel to it – weather was a bit grim and somehow, Spencer’s work left me feeling a little despondent at first. In fact, it felt a little like this:

Spencer, Stanley, 1891-1959; Self Portrait

Spencer, Stanley; Self Portrait; Stanley Spencer Gallery;

It is well curated and there are self portraits, landscapes, portraits, gardens, industry, and resurrections galore – something for everyone!  Lots of space to walk around as well. But, I did cheer up with some of Stanley’s early work, especially these two; not because of their theme, but because the style was remininscent of David Bomberg’s earlier work.  This is not surprising as they were at the Slade together and we all part of that exciting group of artists from my favourite period. Here we have:

St Veronica Unmasking Christ, 1921 and Christ Overturning the Money Changers’ Table, 1921

Both were to have been the wings of a triptych and Spencer echoes the palette and the forms along with the upraised arms.

This video from The Guardian is rather quirky and the narration of Spencer’s words do take you into his world – there is an audio guide that is just extracts from Spencer’s writings to accompany certain works.  It became a little disturbing towards the end, with the letters to his soon-to-be ex wife  and his desire for his mistress, Patricia Preece.

What is rubbish to some people is not to me

First visit to the Hepworth and it won’t be the last: an impressive venue for any exhibition, it had to be said!


Springtime in Cookham

On a lovely spring day, I jumped into my gorgeous Fiat and headed south on the M40. Within two hours I was with my  friend and we were on a little adventure to find out more about Stanley Spencer.

Every visit to Tate Britain ends with a tour round the 1910 room and time with Spencer’s Resurrection at Cookham:

1 Easter Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) The Resurrection - Cookham 1924-7 (2)

The Resurrection, Cookham 1924-7 Sir Stanley Spencer 1891-1959 Presented by Lord Duveen 1927


You can never tire of this painting, set in the Churchyard of Holy Trinity Church in Cookham:

Holy Trinity, Cookham

Even in Amsterdam last week, Spencer was there:


Cookham is very beautiful and the people we encountered were very friendly.  The Gallery is small: two floors crammed with landscapes, flowers, portraits and Spencer’s unmistakable religious paintings.

We were both stuck by the star of the current show -Magnolias:


What was interesting was the way in which your attention is first drawn to the individual magnolia flowers but then your eye is drawn into the background.  Quite lovely.

We went on the Stanley Spencer walk and took in some of the sights, including the church itself.  A lovely day all round!