Stanley Spencer - Sandham Memorial Chapel

We went the other day to have another look at the Stanley Spencer paintings in the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Boughclere. It is a magical place - you really sense Spencer at his most visionary and his most humdrum at the same time. And I guess that is precisely the point. 

The paintings fill the walls of the chapel entirely and feel like Renaissance frescoes. They all are about the day to day details of Spencer's life during the First World War - first as a hospital orderly in Bristol and then later on the Salonika front. They record the minute everyday routines of jam sandwiches for hospital tea and washing out lockers. There are none of the horrors of war that Spencer undoubtedly witnessed here, and yet you feel that the process of painting them must have been a really therapeutic one for Spencer.

Spencer always pays meticulous detail to textures in his painting and I love the way he depicts textiles. You can see it particularly in the paintings of the sacking aprons the orderlies are wearing in the painting above. He really understands the texture and feel of the fabric.

There is a great article about the paintings on the

Guardian website here

, and details of the chapel on the National Trust website.

Photos: John Hammond - National Trust.