Sunday, 19 January 2014

Stanley Spencer at Somerset House

Some time ago, I drove a group of pensioners to Cookham for a day of painting and art.  It was here that I discovered the work of Stanley Spencer, a long overdue discovery for an art historian, it turned out, and for someone who loves to walk through the towns of the Thames.

So I was excited to hear that more of his work was on display at Somerset House, and finally I went to visit it over the Christmas break.  Heaven in a Hell of War is an exhibition of the paintings made site-specifically for the purpose-built Sandham Memorial Chapel, and they are on an excursion to London.


I'm not sure it's an entirely sensitive or appropriate response to give, but I just find his work beautiful.  Canvases densely packed with figures full of action and activity.  The detail of texture, whether we're looking at mosquito nets, wallpaper patterns of towels, and yet somehow I'm caught by the simplicity of the paintings at the same time.

It makes me want to take out my paintbrushes again, for the first time in a while!