Today I was introduced to one of the greatest British artists of the 20th Century: Sir Stanley Spencer. The City Gallery of York is hosting an exhibition organized by the Tate Liverpool Museum. One of the interesting things to do when traveling, for me at least, is to visit local galleries.
A self portrait of Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today was a joy. Spencer painted largely religious themes even though they may not have been obviously so. I particularly liked “Saint Francis Talks To The Birds” pictured below. Apparently the idea came to the artist one day when he saw his father feeding the birds in his dressing gown. So here Saint Francis speaks to the birds while wearing carpet slippers and a monk’s robe that looks more than a little like a bath robe.
I particularly like the fact that the ducks and chickens are very attentive, hanging on every word of the Saint. All living creatures have more in common than humans like to admit. The birds of the air are not in need of redemption as humans are but they do need redemption from our choices.
“Saint Francis Talks To The Birds”
“Self Portrait” 1959 painted four months before dying of cancer
I walked a section of the old city wall this afternoon. The wall goes all the way around the city but you do have to descend and ascend a few times as it is not continuous. Apparently Chester is the only city in England where you can walk the entire city with out stopping.
It is a beautiful vantage of the city. The Minster looms commandingly over all views from the walls. Below you will see the section from Bootham Bar to Monk’s Bar. The amount of green space is quite surprising and the gardens are done to perfection even in the late Winter.
The Church dominates the skyline giving me a sense of the place it had in the Middle Ages. There are 53 Anglican Medieval Churches inside the city walls as one fellow put it, “one for every Sunday of the Year.” In point of fact many medieval churches have not survived.
This is the only place I have ever been where there is an Anglican Church on every corner and there is a sense of perfect order in that fact.