Stanley Spencer

Barbican Art Gallery

Stanley Spencer first considered the idea of a larger devotional schema within which to organize his individual works at the end of the ’20s. This Church House was to be, as its name suggests, a place for both living and worship, in which the joys of religious belief and of domestic and physical (particularly sexual) experience are celebrated together. The central nave of the Church House was seen as corresponding to Cookham High Street, the main artery through the village where Spencer was brought up, and the memory of which provided him with so much of his imagery. To either side of the nave were to be series of chapels dedicated to Spencer’s two wives, to other loves, and to broader treatments of various religious and secular themes. The scheme, of course, was never realized. But, to mark the centennial of Spencer’s birth, the Barbican has attempted, in its exhibition “The Apotheosis

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