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The Early Work of Austin Osman Spare 1900-1919
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FOREWORD Bill Wallace thrust head and shoulders over my horizon on 28th September 1985 when I was 70 and he under 30 years of age. Strong, bold, impulsive handwriting met my gaze, and later, his gifts of drawings and paintings proved to be as sinewy, vigorous and without compromise. Probably born out of our chaos and an imperfect world of struggle and pressures. Astonished was I to learn that his B.A. (Hons) as graduate ofFine Arts, Cheltenham College of Art 1981/4 was gained partIy on a dissertation by way of analysis of the Art of Austin Spare whom I knew as mentor and friend from 1937 to 1956. As Post-Graduate Bill proposed to try for his M.A. or Ph.D. at University on a more expanded thesis on that remarkable draughtsman and painter in pastels. To prove, if any proof required, his utter deterrnination, drive and enthusiasm he set forth on a Ione journey to study Hindu cults at first hand in India, a land which fascinated A.O.S.; the trip was abandoned through no fault ofhis own but insights and the Sub-Continent's sensual atmosphere will impregnate William Wallace forever. Were I able to communicate to my late friend the obsessions of our you thful artist he would be seen to hurtle from his hard kitchen chair with fiery glint of eye, forcefully poke at the grate and exclaim "he may succeed me yet!" - because Spare longed for a son and with alI his might loved to encourage creative youth. William Wallace also has been through the fires ofHell and returned without rancour. During that period of diabolical suffering he was borne aloft by the discovery of an early work on the occult by Spare which changed his life. Now, Spare needs at this time a full-Iength biography. Perhaps this publisher may contemplate the idea and produce for the curious from his magician's sleeve a study from life. Attending exhibitions by current young artists I have noted many ideas exploited which virtually were originated by A.O.S. who averred "my work and sketchbooks are full of ideas I have not time to develop". Perspicacity, imagination, perspiration and deep research go to the making of any monograph such as here printed. The only praise I can give to William Wallace is 24 carato He is worth watching and giving the maximum encouragement. (Frank Letchford)
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