Stanley Spencer Gallery Re-opens In Cookham After Rebuild

By 24 Hour Huseum staff | 01 October 2007
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Interior of the refurbished gallery. Photo by Jeff Hopkins

A year after closing for an £800,000 total refurbishment, the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham, Berkshire, has reopened.

More than 100 people, all with connections to Spencer and his art - and including his two daughters Shirin and Unity Spencer - filled the gallery on Saturday September 29 2007 for a ceremonial unveiling.

At the re-launch, Dick Hurley, Chairman of the Trustees, explained how the project had taken five years to plan and complete, and that the gallery could now look forward to the future with confidence.

Keith Halstead for the Heritage Lottery Fund (South East England) said he was delighted to see how more than £800,000 of fund money had been used. Heritage, he said, was about the future as well as the past, and this local, community-run gallery was a fine example.

From the outside - the Stanley Spencer gallery is now open again after being closed for a year. Photo by Jeff Hopkins

The gallery opened in 1962 as a memorial to the artist Stanley Spencer (1891 - 1959) who had been born and worked for much of his life in the village. He now has international stature and is widely recognised as one of the most important British artists of the 20th century.

Run entirely by volunteers, the gallery holds a fine collection of more than 120 works. Renovations in the gallery, a former Methodist chapel used by Spencer as a child, now allow more works to be displayed at any one time.

The reopening exhibition is called 'That Sacred Piece of Ground,' and shows 47 paintings and drawings; the title a reference Spencer himself made to the old chapel. A new acquisition now on show is called 'Ecstasy in a Wesleyan Chapel', drawn from memories of Spencer's childhood.

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