Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Faithful Art of Sir Stanley Spencer

The Rt Revd Lord Harries was the Anglican Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006. He was previously the Dean of King's College London

Amongst his other posts he is Gresham Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London

He recently delivered a lecture on the art of Sir Stanley Spencer: "Christian Themes in Art: Understanding faith through the eyes of Stanley Spencer"

Here are some of the many paintings of Spencer which he discusses.
Sir Stanley Spencer 1891-1959
Christ Carrying the Cross 1920
Oil on canvas
support: 1530 x 1429 mm frame: 1777 x 1670 x 68 mm
The Tate, London

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891 − 1959)
Port Glasgow Cemetery 1947
Oil on canvas
50.8 x 76.2 cm
The British Council

The lecture is available as a video, podcast and written transcript. There is also a powerpoint presentation with all the paintings discussed.

Here is an extract from the lecture by Lord Herries:

"For Stanley Spencer this feeling was above all that of love about which he once said

Love is the essential power in the creation of art and love is not a talent. Love reveals and more accurately describes the nature and meaning of things than any mere lecture on technique can do. And it establishes once and for all time the final and perfect identity of every created thing.

This love not only establishes the identity of every created thing but raises that thing into a harmonious relationship with all other things and people.

If we believe with Thomas Aquinas that grace does not destroy but fulfil nature then in Stanley Spencer’s paintings we see grace at work on our disfigured world, transforming human relationships into a holy communion of the divine and the human, the divine expressed in and through the human, the spiritual in and through the physical, the holy in and through the mundane, the beautiful in and through what sometimes strikes us in his pictures as the ungainly or ugly.

For all was embraced in his vision and raised into a heaven of here and now."

See also: