Items where Subject is "Art History"

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Paul Gough is interested in drawing in-between places, liminal zones, waste grounds, empty places that were once something and now have been allowed to lapse back into their habitual shape. Look at his drawings of the former airbase at Greenham Common, or the ash-heaps of the old north Somerset coalfield, the abandoned village of Tyneham or the forlorn gullies on the Gallipoli Peninsula. They are powerful evocations of absence and embedded memory. Writer Marion Shoard coined these unloved, unseen and often unexplored spaces as the ‘edge land’, a mysterious hinterland of brick piles and rubbish tips, derelict industrial plant and ragged landfill, forlorn filling stations and scruffy allotments, abandoned ordnance lying amidst rogue plants.

Thirty years ago, the naturalist Richard Mabey in his book ‘The Unofficial Countryside ‘, had also opened our eyes to the vitality of these unkempt places. He, however, found little to cherish and celebrate in these wasted hinterlands. Instead he marvelled at the resilience of nature in such abject conditions, its refusal to be ground down by toxic contagion.

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As one of Britain's most eminent 20th century painters Stanley Spencer's work has often been overshadowed by his chaotic and colourful private life. This is the first book since Richard Carline's Stanley Spencer at War (1978) to focus entirely on the painter's service as an orderly, soldier, and patient in the First World War, and to critically evaluate his time in Bristol, the Balkans and Burghclere between 1915-1932.

Drawing on Spencer's letters, illustrations and paintings, and interviews with relatives, curators and others who knew him, Gough examines Spencer's journey from cosseted family life, through the drudgery of a war hospital and the malarial battlefields of the Macedonian campaign, to the commission for the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere. Through a close reading of contemporary texts and artwork, the book locates Spencer's work as a key component of the commemorative era after the Great War, situating Spencer's paintings of resurrection as a response to the complex bureaucracies of commemoration and a visual re-imagining of the exhumations and burials that were then taking place in battlefields across Europe. Spencer's work is examined in the context of other architects, sculptors and soldier-artists of the period, but is also positioned within the discourses of haunting and memory construction.

A number of the themes in the book were aired through several conference papers: 'Resurrection: reviving the dead in the work of Stanley Spencer, Otto Dix and Jeff Wall' Spaces, Haunting, Discourse conference, Karlstad University, Sweden (15-18 June 2006); 'Heroic death: models and counter models', WAPACC conference, USA (28-30 October 2006).

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"Fortunes of War evolved through an enquiry led (pre-internet) approach that focused on a Lamarkian preoccupation with the potential impact of an environment on collective and individual behaviour. The intention was to create anticipatory photographic images. A ‘retention vanish’ approach to composition placed the emphasis on framing the subject of the image from the perspective of the distraction and not the scene. Through this an attempt was made to counter pre-occupied states of mind, circumventing a censorship of expectation relating to the form of both the work itself and significantly that of its maker."

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