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Conference Papers
Publications : Chapters in Books

Paul Gough
'‘Seeking the kingdom of heaven…’ Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) painter, writer, visionary’'

in Richard Heathcote and Anna Jug (eds.), Stanley Spencer: A Twentieth-Century Master (Wakefield Press, Adelaide, Australia, 2016).

Opening section:

Sir Stanley Spencer CBE is now regarded as one of the leading British painters of the Twentieth century. His extraordinary output of portraits, complex figure compositions and religious masterpieces stand comparison with the European greats of his time. One of the chosen generation that had graduated from the Slade School of Art in London, the boyish-looking painter would soon become famous (and occasionally infamous) for two outstanding qualities in his intense and at times complicated life: the celebration and immortalisation of his home village of Cookham, his ‘heaven on earth’ as he lovingly called it, and the fusion in his paintings of the menial and the miraculous, of sex and saints, of dirt and angels, the sacred and the profane, invariably melded together by an extraordinary sense of pattern, design and a singular personal vision that ingeniously unified the disparate parts of a complicated personal narrative.

Grounded always in rigorous observation, Spencer’s narrative paintings reveal a complex reading of the world, where everything had a double meaning – the everyday jostling with the imaginary, the ordinary alongside the extraordinary – which he attempted to reconcile through his art….