Stanley Spencer: a twentieth-century British Master

Stanley Spencer, From the artist's window cookham 1938The first exhibition in Australia in fifty years devoted to artist Stanley Spencer, Carrick Hill presents Stanley Spencer: a twentieth-century British Master from 3 August 2016.

The centrepiece of Carrick Hill’s thirtieth anniversary of its opening to the public, the exhibition will re-examine Stanley Spencer’s contribution to British Modernism through the Spencer works currently held in the southern hemisphere. The first Spencer exhibition in Australia was held in Adelaide as part of the 1966 Adelaide Festival of Arts for which the Haywards of Carrick Hill lent paintings.

Spencer (1891-1959) is heralded as one of Britain’s most significant twentieth-century artists. Although he never visited the antipodes, his work is in every major institution throughout Australia and New Zealand with Adelaide at one time being home to as many as twenty works, the largest group collected outside of the United Kingdom during the artist’s lifetime.

Stuart Conlin Chair of Trustees at The Sir Stanley Spencer Memorial Trust, Cookham says “Some of Spencer’s most extravagant flower and garden paintings are held at Carrick Hill. Blue Iris, Sunflower, From the Artists Window, and Flowers and Rooftops are just four of these. 2016 is an impressively active year for Stanley Spencer, with three single artist exhibitions in England and one in Australia at Carrick Hill.”

The Haywards first saw Spencer’s work in Adelaide in 1935 in the landmark Loan Exhibition of Contemporary British Art and were inspired to buy their first work by the artist during their honeymoon in England the same year. They eventually amassed the largest private collection of Spencer’s work outside England. The Haywards’ home became a microcosm of British taste … Jeffrey Smart calling it an education in the modern styles emanating in Britain and ‘the best private collection in Australia.’

Stanley Spencer: a twentieth-century British master will feature a selection of thirty works. They include still-lifes, landscapes, portraits and figurative compositions on loan from national and international sources.

The Spencer showing will be accompanied by a new book (the largest ever produced by Carrick Hill, published by Wakefield Press) and a new film by Catherine Hunter (who produced a recent documentary on artist Jeffrey Smart and The Black Rose featuring artist Trent Parke). The exhibition will also be complemented by a public program of talks, music (Spencer was a talented pianist) and readings (he was a prolific letter writer as well as a prolific painter).

Carrick Hill Director Richard Heathcote says, “From his origins as a village boy growing up in a large family (nine siblings), homeschooled with an eccentric musician father, his participation in two world wars, his marriages, through to his last decade, which brought public accolades including a knighthood, Royal Academy membership and a retrospective exhibition at the Tate, it was a remarkable and productive life.”

Sir Keith Murdoch’s initiative in the 1930s to bring an exhibition of French and British contemporary art to Australia (which opened first in Adelaide in 1939) helped to introduce a wider Australian public to British and European contemporary artists. Sir Keith was described as a “… rare combination of an astute businessman and an informed connoisseur.”

The Adelaide showing included four Spencer paintings, three of which would remain in Australia after the show closed and returned to Europe. Exhibitions such as these played a key role in predisposing Adelaide audiences to what Spencer was communicating through his art.

Stanley Spencer: a twentieth-century British Master
Carrick Hill, 46 Carrick Hill Drive, Springfield
Exhibition: 3 August – 4 December 2016
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: www.carrickhill.sa.gov.au for details.

Image: Stanley Spencer, From the artist’s window, Cookham 1938. oil on canvas  50.8 x 76.3 cm. Collection of the Carrick Hill Trust, Adelaide. Hayward Bequest.

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