Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere
Artist(s): Stanley Spencer
Author(s): Paul Gough
Year published: 2006
Publisher: Samson & Company
Publisher Location: Bristol
Total Pages: 208
Illustrations: Illustrated Throughout in Colour and Black and White.
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Stanley Spencer was one of Britain´s greatest twentieth-century artists. He became famous for two things: his celebration and immortalisation of his home town of Cookham in Berkshire – his ‘heaven on earth’ as he lovingly called it – and the fusion in his paintings of sex and religion, the heavenly and the ordinary.
In 1915 Spencer left home to serve as a medical orderly in the Beaufort Military Hospital in Bristol. Aged 24, he had rarely stayed away overnight from home. For ten months he scrubbed floors, bandaged convalescent soldiers and carried supplies around the vast, former lunatic asylum.
In 1916 he signed up for overseas duty in Macedonia, where he saw violent action up to the eve of the Armistice. Five years after the war, Spencer started making large drawings of a possible memorial scheme based on his wartime experiences. So extraordinary were his sketches, and so committed was he to realising them in paint, that the Behrend family became his patrons, funding a purpose-built memorial chapel at Burghclere, near Newbury. Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere
For five years he toiled, often on top of a giant scaffold, to produce the painted chapel now regarded as his masterpiece – one of the unsung artistic glories of Europe.
Drawing on Spencer´s own letters, illustrations and paintings, Paul Gough tells the story of the artist´s journey from cosseted family life, through the drudgery of a war hospital and the malarial battlefields of a forgotten front, to his unique vision of peace and resurrection in Burghclere. The book locates Spencer´s work alongside other soldier-artists of the time.