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Conference Papers
Conference papers

Paul Gough
University of Bristol Art Lectures 2014 ’Artists and the Two World Wars’, 'Painters of War, Recovery and Resurrection: Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash’
Other speakers include Professor Christopher Frayling on H G Wells, Dr Daniel Grimley on Vaughan Williams, Professor Andrew Kelly on Lewis Milestone.
11 November 2014

Painters of War, Recovery and Resurrection: Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer
"I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls.” Paul Nash’s embittered memories of the Western Front produced some of the most searing paintings of the First World War; his taut renditions introduced a new language of devastation to the genre of landscape. His canvases have become the leitmotifs of the battlefield, rendering visual the indescribable tragedy of war.

This lecture will explore the ‘barren, sightless, godless’ visual language of conflict by contrasting Nash’s work with that of Stanley Spencer, who served first in Bristol as a medical orderly, then on the forgotten front in Salonika. After the war Spencer recreated his memory of war, literally re-membering the dis-membered fragments of the fighting on the walls of the Sandham Chapel in Burghclere, a place ranked alongside the poetry of Owen and Sassoon, and Britten’s War Requiem, as amongst the ‘most moving monuments to 20th-century war.’

Professor Paul Gough
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University

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