A Celebration of Arts and Music

Friday 24 April 2009 - Monday 4 May 2009


2009 Cookham Festival Highlights


30 April  - Stanley Spencer Gallery

with thanks to Becky Pinnegar and Chrissy Rosenthal

The Spencers and the Carlines

To mark the 50th anniversary of Spencer’s death, the packed audience at the Spencer Gallery had a real treat on Thursday evening . Not only were Stanley’s two daughters, Shirin and Unity, and his wife Hilda’s nephew and niece Francis and Hermoine Carline there, but they shared reminiscences of their fathers with the audience. The theme of the evening was a ‘Family of Artists’.

When Stanley and Hilda Carline married in 1925, it united the two talented families. These included Gilbert Carline, her father known for his picturesque work and family portraits (often in fancy dress). Then her mother Annie, illustrator of children’s books, who was the only one of the two families to exhibit in Paris. Also Hilda’s brothers, Sydney and Richard, the latter a well known war artist. Gilbert Spencer, Stanley’s brother, also a war artist but with a strong sense of humour. All were included in the presentation. This was comprised of photographs, and images of paintings, with recorded commentary given by Spencer’s daughters, nephews and nieces. This made it such a personal and interesting evening.

Shirin shared happy memories of the two families coming together in Cookham. It was her idea of Heaven she said. Everyone was painting, the cows on Odney Common, and  Hilda was painting Cookham bridge . As a child she thought it was magical that tubes of colour on a palette became a painting. Another happy memory Shirin shared was how, when she was walking with her mother on Hampstead Heath, she showed her how a yellow buttercup could became green when held in the shadow of her coat. The daughters summed up the influence Hilda and Stanley had on each others work“ It was a kind of osmosis, they both fed off each other”

The Family of Artists continues to flourish. A portrait of Stanley, painted by Unity towards the end of his life, hangs in the Gallery today.

click on photo for larger image

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Francis Carline (left) and  Unity Spencer (centre) talking to the audience about their family.  

Chrissy Rosenthal (right)  took the chair

Registered charity No 1094999