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These drawings are studies for a series of paintings of The Resurrection. Spencer had originally planned one huge canvas, but in the end, settled for a number of smaller, interrelated paintings. The Resurrection: Port Glasgow, the painting shown here, was to be the centrepiece of the group.

Rather than using models, Spencer worked from his imagination, often making his first sketches on strips of toilet paper, which he found useful for its length and low cost. He then copied the sketches he liked onto large sheets in a sketchbook, some of which are displayed here. He next squared up the drawings and transferred them on to canvas to be painted.

In Spencer''s homely vision of this Christian day of reckoning, rising from the grave seems to be rather like waking up in bed. He presents an idealised version of family life in which the whole community relaxes together, yawning, stretching, brushing their hair, embracing. Most of the figures wear loose pyjama-like clothing, some dance, some garden. It is a solid, earthly heaven, in which memories of childhood comfort and domesticity are mingled with adult dreams of erotic love.

August 2004