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Arts Leaders’ Visit to the Stanley Spencer Gallery 1st July 2015

Thirteen children, who are this year’s Arts Leaders, enjoyed a visit to the Stanley Spencer Galley in Cookham. Along with four members of staff, they spent the afternoon with volunteer custodian Paul Grandidge learning about the world famous artist’s life and works. The group was spellbound by Paul’s entertaining descriptions of Spencer and the many eccentric aspects of his lifestyle, such as the pram on which he used to carry his easel and the fact that he so loved the village of Cookham where he lived, that his fellow art students called him ‘Cookham’ instead of Stanley. They also heard how his wartime experiences affected the rest of his life and changed the way he painted, before going on to study the displayed works. The children were guided to look for people, religion and Cookham in the paintings – Spencer’s favourite subjects – as well as observing the minute detail and pattern in brickwork, floor tiles or knitting. Our guide’s knowledgeable commentary enabled them to identify Spencer’s family and friends in the paintings. After the gallery, the group proceeded to a walk around Cookham, viewing the Spencer family home and various buildings, the churchyard and riverside locations where he painted.


Some of the children’s comments were:
“I didn’t realise how fascinating art could be!”
“If Sir Stanley Spencer was alive he would really appreciate it and probably say thank you.”
“Thanks for an amazing day – I will go again with my family.”
“My favourite part was definitely the walk round Cookham.”
“I loved the fact that we walked all around Cookham to see exactly where he painted his pictures.”

















So all in all, it was a fantastic afternoon, enjoyed by everyone and a fascinating insight into a wonderful artist. Despite being the hottest day of the year, the children were extremely attentive and responded so well to the questions and discussion with Paul. Thank you to the gallery staff and Chiltern Fine Arts Society for arranging this for our school.

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