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The Lovers or The Dustman by Stanley Spencer

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The Lovers or The Dustman is an outstanding piece of work created by Stanley Spencer in 1934. The piece, which is owned by the Stanley Spencer Estate and is currently on display at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle Upon Tyne, is a richly detailed
artwork with layers of meaning and depth. Looking at the piece one is drawn into its complexity and energy. The superficial experience brings a very defined view of village life. One sees by the nature of the organization of the figures the close knit comfort of those who actively engage in the lives of neighbors.
The piece brings a sense of a chaotic moment in the lives of these villagers as they focus on a spectacle and one can see the beginnings of judgment and wonder on their faces. On closer inspection we see that the figures near the bottom are offering gifts of garbage which are according to a critical essay by Don Gray, “despite Spencer’s disavowal, ironic substitutes for gold, frankincense and myrrh, a fitting welcome to the new Christ by a non-believing, materialist age.” (Gray) The theme of The Lovers or The Dustman is the resurrection of common workers, specifically garbage men and dustmen. Spencer interpreted this piece by saying “"…The joy of his (the dustmans) bliss is spiritual in his union with his wife who carries him in her arms and experiences the bliss of union with his corduroy trousers…They are gazed at by other reuniting wives of old laborers who are in ecstasy at the contemplation that they are reuniting and are about to enter their homes."(Gray)
In this piece, one can see a perspective of the female mind as they look on the reunion contemplating their own abilities to survive without these men in their lives. They have been “doing quite nicely without them thank you”, (Gray) as Gray puts it.