The Stanley Spencer Gallery based in Cookham is currently featuring the Paradise Regained collection, a series of paintings drawn in the Aftermath of the First World War and coinciding with recent Centenary reflections.
Predominantly known for his works set in his home town of Cookham, the collection features pictures that Stanley thought he would never be able to paint following his trauma having served on the front line in Macedonia with the Royal Army Medical Corps. His famous quote “Oh no, it is not proper or sensible to expect to paint well after such experiences” reflects his thoughts at the time.
Cookham was very important to the artist at this critical point of his career, as he began to overcome the devastating effects the war had upon his personal and professional life. The exhibition reflects this with its many paintings of the village, including a privately owned painting entitled Unveiling Cookham War Memorial, painted in 1922. The picture depicts an important ceremony for the Spencer family as Stanley’s elder brother Sydney, whose name can be found on the memorial cross, was killed in the last few months of the war.
Another well-known painting, Christ carrying the Cross, painted in 1920 and lent to the exhibition by the Tate Gallery, shows Christ travelling down Cookham High Street on his way to Calvary, followed by the local builder’s men carrying ladders. Work that critics believe is very much influenced by the trauma of war.
Not far from Cookham is the Sir Christopher Wren Hotel and Spa. Based in Windsor there is an impressive array of shops and craft markets to be found in the refurbished Victorian Railway station. Located by the river the hotel is ideal for a weekend getaway to recharge your batteries.
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