Places to visit

The Imperial War Museum in Lambeth has put details online of the big new exhibition (opening 30th September) to mark the 90th anniversary of the Armistice.

It looks as though there will be plenty about stories of individuals, as well as exhibitions of artwork and ephemera, and a section about the founding of the museum.

It looks as though there will be an account and  partial reconstruction of the great memorial scheme that finally faltered – a huge building in Hyde Park, centred round a massive Hall of Remembrance, filled with huge-scale paintings. Katie Cassell spoke interestingly about this at the Birmingham Day School earlier this year. The project was scaled down, and the memorial fitted into the old Bedlam building at Lambeth, to become the IWM.

Among the paintings on display will be :

  • John Singer Sargent: Gassed
  • Percy Wyndham Lewis: A Battery Shelled
  • Paul Nash: The Menin Road
  • Henry Lamb: Irish Troops in the Judaean Hills Surprised by a Turkish Bombardment
  • John Nash: Oppy Wood
  • and this one –
    Stanley Spencer: Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing-Station At Smol, Macedonia

Spencer is someone I have been thinking about this week. On Friday, Marion and I took a train to Cookham, where Spencer was born and died. There is a small gallery there ( a converted Methodist chapel) with a display of his paintings. The current exhibition concentrates on “Images of Love and Work” and there are none of his war paintings – and, sadly, none of the almost embarrassingly intimate nude portraits of himself and his wife that I think are his most extraordinary pictures. What is there though is definitely worth seeing.

For Spencer’s war-related pictures, one needs to go to Burghclere, near Newbury, where the Sandham Memorial Chapel is full of his astonishing images, of the lives of ordinary soldiers, and the resurrection of the dead. I don’t know of any other WW1 art that is like this:

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