Cover: The Sausage Shop - Stanley Spencer 1934

Sir Stanley could hardly be considered an oik – his dad was a music teacher and he grew up in Cookham on the Thames not far from Windsor. But oiks featured a great deal in his pictures – usually rural oiks, yokels in smocks, oiks in shops (as in the sausage shop), or workmen in the house (see Oik issue 4 and also back cover of this issue).  Later he painted oiks from the industrial proletariat when he was asked to depict shipbuilders on the Clyde during World War 2. On oiks he was as good as Breugel.

His other notable characteristic was a strong religious feeling – you don’t have to be crazy to espouse Jesus, but it helps. Many biblical scenes were recreated. His Resurrection Cookham was described in the Times as "the most important picture painted by any English artist in the present century. ..What makes it so astonishing is the combination in it of careful detail with the modern freedom of form. It is as if a Pre-Raphaelite had shaken hands with a Cubist.” In his later years Spencer was seen as a "small man with twinkling eyes and shaggy grey hair, often wearing his pyjamas under his suit if it was cold." Spencer became a "familiar sight, wandering the lanes of Cookham pushing the old pram in which he carried his canvas and easel."

Sir Stan’s marriage hit the rocks in 1935 when he got attracted to the lesbian Patricia Preece. Around then he painted The Beatitudes of Love, about ill-matched couples. These pictures, and others of often radical sexual imagery, were intended for cubicles in the Church-House where the visitor could "meditate on the sanctity and beauty of sex" Rather like the cubicles proposed in Archbishop Temple’s New Social Order (see p 20). Pat never granted Stan les derniers faveurs (as the frogs say) but he did do some horny nudes and she became Lady Spencer in spite of everything – an icon of modern celebrity avant la lettre.