Sculpture show at the Sandham Memorial Chapel, home to Stanley Spencer’s epic murals


Of Geometry and Gods, Side by Side, an exhibition by contemporary artists has opened at the Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, and will run until May 1.

More than 20 new works inspired by the human figure – including stone carvings, paintings and bronze sculptures by artist Robert Fitzmaurice and sculptor and architect James Dunnett – are on display in the exhibition space and gardens Sandham’s intimates.

James’ stone carvings involve the play of light on form while Robert’s work includes references to the cultures of Europe and Asia. In Oracle, Robert painted colorful geometric shapes that come together to form a larger work of art, acrylic on aluminum. His first large-scale bronze work – Deity – is displayed in the gardens. James’ stone sculptures of nudes have a clean, angular look, showing how the human body can be represented through geometric shapes.

Seated revolving figure James Dunnett & Deity Robert Fitzmaurice

Visitors are invited to compare these approaches with Stanley Spencer’s epic series of murals, on permanent display in Sandham Chapel. These famous works of art, arguably Spencer’s greatest achievement, reflect his personal experiences during World War I.

The exhibition On geometry and the gods, side by side is open from Thursday to Sunday and from bank holiday Monday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the exhibition is free.

There is an entrance fee to view the Stanley Spencer exhibition and paintings in the chapel. Free for National Trust members.

Head & Bird, James Dunnett and Blue Duel, Robert Fitzmaurice
Head & Bird, James Dunnett and Blue Duel, Robert Fitzmaurice

There are also related events:
Workshop Drawing towards Sculpture: Wednesday April 20, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

In this hands-on session, Robert and James will share examples of drawing techniques to develop sculptural ideas. Participants will experiment with different methods of suggesting form through light, shadow and the creation of marks. Paper, drawing materials and a selection of objects to draw will be provided.

Chapel Talk: Saturday, April 23, 4-6 p.m.

James and Robert share ideas and inspirations behind their work in the exhibition as well as broader interests and experience.

James Dunnett is a Cambridge-trained architect who was also a member of Anthony Caro’s Advanced Sculpture Course at St Martin in the 1970s. He later worked for renowned architect Erno Goldfinger RA. He wrote art reviews for Art Monthly, Architects’ Journal, Architectural Review, 3e dimension and other journals and translated Le Corbusier’s book Decorative art today (1925), from which the title of the exhibition derives.

Robert Fitzmaurice is a full time artist who has lived in Reading since 1984. Originally from Coventry, he studied fine art at the universities of Sunderland and Reading. Recent exhibits in West Berkshire include Soldier at the Sandham Memorial Chapel (2018) and No Eden at Greenham Control Tower (2019). In 2021, he curated the collective exhibition Absent authors at APT Gallery, London and presented his personal exhibition Relationships, Stories, Magic at the Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery.

About Sandham Memorial Chapel

The modest red-brick building tucked away in the Hampshire village of Burghclere is home to an epic series of large-scale murals by famed artist Stanley Spencer. Created to honor the “forgotten dead” of World War I, the paintings are inspired by Spencer’s own experiences at Beaufort Hospital in Bristol and on the Salonika front. It is peppered with personal and unexpected details and shows daily activities rather than the horrors of war.


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