Stanley spencer gallery

Imagine being married to Stanley Spencer

It sometimes rains in Cookham. It rained all day when I visited the Stanley Spencer Gallery to see the exhibition Love, Art, Loss: The Wives of Stanley Spencer. But it rarely rained for Spencer, or at least never in his pictures of his hallowed birthplace, where even when skies are grey the red brick of the houses is warmed by the eternal summer sun of childhood. Not in the winter of 1937, though. That winter saw the 46-year-old artist rattling around his seven-bed family home, divorced from first wife Hilda Carline and separated from second wife Patricia Preece, painting pictures of grotesquely ill-matched couples who seemed unaccountably happier than him.