Stanley Spencer: Everyday Miracles


Media Release: October, 2003. 

Stanley Spencer (1891 – 1959) has been described as the greatest figurative and religious painter in twentieth century British art. Everyday Miracles: The Art of Stanley Spencer opening on Saturday 25 October at City Gallery Wellington is the first substantial touring exhibition in New Zealand of the work of this much loved artist.

Described as a true visionary in twentieth century British art, Spencer is famous for his visions of the miraculous in the everyday. Comical, humane and visionary, his art was driven by his passionate religious conviction and turbulent personal life.

One of only two official British war artists whose work spanned two world wars, Stanley Spencer was not only enormously talented and respected, receiving a knighthood in 1959, but he was also wonderfully eccentric. He could often be found making studies for works at the shipyards on rolls of toilet paper or walking the lanes of his beloved village of Cookham pushing his easel and canvas in an old pram chassis.

Sex fascinated Stanley Spencer, as did angels, the transcendence of the spirit through faith, and life in the village of Cookham, where as a child he believed biblical events had taken place witnessed by local folk. Considered a maverick within the English art tradition, Spencer made paintings that are rich and complex, often with conflicting and controversial meanings.

Curated by Justin Paton and Mary Kisler, Everyday Miracles: The Art of Stanley Spencer draws largely on a particularly strong body of Spencer’s works in New Zealand and Australian public collections, as well as key works from English public collections including the Tate.

The exhibition contains a selection of religious studies, portraits, narratives and landscapes each of which demonstrate his meticulous attention to detail. Also included in the exhibition are two of Spencer’s best known self portraits from 1914 and 1959, from the Tate’s collection.

Keynote Lecture, Sally J Morgan Head of Fine Arts at Massey University:

Angels in the Ordinary – the complex simplicity in the works of Stanley Spencer

In partnership with Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington

Sunday 16 November 2003, 2-3pm

City Gallery Cinema, lecture free with entry to the exhibition

Bookings essential. To reserve your seat call, 04 801 3017

A partnership between Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Everyday Miracles: The Art of Stanley Spencer has been generously supported by Simpson Grierson and is indemnified by the New Zealand Government, Ministry of Cultural Affairs Te Manatu Tikanga-a-Iwi