Glenside museum hosts Stanley Spencer tour

Issue date: 28 May 2009

spencer To celebrate the 50th anniversary since the death of renowned war artist, Stanley Spencer, the Glenside Hospital Museum in Bristol is hosting a series of special self guided tours of the former hospital during four consecutive Saturdays on 6, 13, 20 and 27 June.

It is probably not well known that the world famous war artist, Stanley Spencer, worked as a medical orderly from 1915 during an unusual period in the history of the former Glenside Hospital during the First World War. During this period the Hospital was taken over by the military to become the Beaufort War Hospital between 1915 and 1918.

The tours will provide art enthusiasts with the opportunity to gain an insight into Spencer's experience at Beaufort that provided much of the inspiration and details for his world famous paintings at Sandham Memorial Chapel.

Stanley Spencer helped out with tasks like washing the floors, making beds and generally caring for injured patients and having read St Augustine's confessions believed he was carrying out Gods work. Therefore these experiences can be seen to have influenced many of his important religious works, including many of the murals at the wonderful Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere near Newbury. The unique 1920's decorated chapel is filled with murals inspired by his experience of the First World War and is an internationally recognised monument of British Art now owned by the National Trust.

Paintings like 'Convoy arriving with the wounded'' 'Scrubbing the floor'; 'Ablutions' and 'Sorting the laundry' can be directly attributed to Spencer's experiences when he worked at Beaufort War Hospital.

The Glenside Hospital closed in 1994 and is now part of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of the West of England.

The Glenside Hospital Museum is housed in the Church in what are now the UWE grounds and highlights the development of Glenside Hospital from 1861 to 1994. Founded by the late Dr Donal Early, a consultant psychiatrist at Glenside Hospital the museum is a fascinating legacy with exhibits including reconstructions of wards, an operating theatre, padded cell and many artifacts, photographs and documents.

Dr Ihsan Mian, Chairman of the Glenside Hospital Museum and a former consultant psychiatrist at Glenside Hospital, said, “We are really excited to be hosting this series of tours. We will be organising tours of the former hospital during the four Saturdays in June giving people the opportunity to explore the collections and to gain an understanding of the way Glenside Hospital operated.
“We are proud of Stanley Spencer's connection to the former Beaufort War Hospital and wanted to highlight this important historical connection during the 50th anniversary since his death in 1959.”

Professor Paul Gough, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Creative Arts at UWE and expert on war art said, “This is a special event for me as I have a committed interest in the historical legacy of British War Artists, in fact my own practice concentrates on the iconography of war. I published a book about the astounding work of Stanley Spencer just last year so it a thrilling irony to work at UWE where he gained such significant inspiration for his most enduring legacy at Sandham Memorial Chapel.”

For more information about the tour please contact Luke Pomeroy 07980338143 or Viv Jenkins 01454 613064

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