Thursday, July 22, 2010
Cookham and Stanley Spencer
Ruth and I went out on a day trip to Cookham this week. I had wanted to go for a while as I really respond to some of Stanley Spencer's work. There are special deals on train fares too which make it easier to travel.It was really hot but fortunately overcast for the early part of the day, otherwise I don't think I'd have managed. Though not many signs, we walked down what seemed to be the only road, past the house where Spencer used to live, to the Stanley Spencer gallery, a lovely small but well packed space.It was great to see some of his first wife, Hilda's work too. Really sensitive portrait of Spencer, her daughter and drawings too. Spencer's last unfinnished painting, Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta, shows how he painted: working on a squared up canvas, pencil outlines of the composition and then detailed painting in sections of the painting itself. That was a surprise, no underpainting, and the completeness of small sections and only drawn sections in the painting.
I think I respond to his desire to set the spiritual, in his case Christianity in the everyday world around him. That he had the confidence to set his visions of biblical stories in Cookham itself.
We spotted a number of birds of prey while we were there.at one point seven near the train station, only one track, we found out later these at least were red kites. Lovely to see them and here their piercing slightly mournful cries.