Stanley Spencer and the English Garden at Compton Verney and Spencer’s War: the Art of Shipbuilding on the Clyde at the Stanley Spencer Gallery
For those who’ve had their interest in Stanley Spencer piqued by Dr James Fox’s recent British Masters series for the BBC (and, of course, for longstanding fans of the eccentric artist), there are currently two exhibitions exploring the diverse elements of Spencer’s output – from the dramatic shipbuilding studies made during WWII to the edenic, pastoral scenes of the countryside that Spencer returned to obsessively throughout his career. Stanley Spencer and the English Garden runs at Compton Verney until 2 October 2011, and presents works from the 20s, 30s and 40s, which explore the changes in the landscape during this period, while elaborating Spencer’s conception of the garden as a ‘private heaven.’ A catalogue has been published to coincide with the exhibition.
Forming a dramatic contrast with the intensely private and personal vision which Spencer disclosed through his landscape works, the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham is displaying a series of paintings made by Spencer of shipbuilding during WWII until the 15th January 2012 in Spencer’s War: the Art of Shipbuilding on the Clyde. These paintings provide a fascinating parallel with Spencer’s murals at the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere, similarly focussing on everyday details and personal moments amidst the chaos and activity of wartime.