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If you won’t be able to take a seat on the Mrs. Dalloway bench in Gordon Square, this summer, you can still see it up close. Artist Fiona Osborne of One Red Shoe has generously shared photos of the bench at various stages of her artistic process.

If you look closely, you can even see her workspace in some of the photos, including drop cloth, paint pots and brushes, a blow dryer, and natural light streaming through a round window.

Osborne’s Mrs. Dalloway bench is one of  50 installed by the National Literacy Trust for its Books About Town art trail. Each is shaped as an open book and is decorated by a professional illustrator or local artist.

Side view of the Mrs. Dalloway bench

Side view of the Mrs. Dalloway bench

 

Front view featuring Clarissa Dalloway

Front view featuring Clarissa Dalloway

Front view in progress

Front view in progress

Close-up of back view featuring Septimus Warren Smith

Close-up of back view featuring Septimus Warren Smith

Back view in progress

Back view in progress

Detail of the orchid

Detail of the orchid

Detail of the swallow

Detail of the swallows

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, in association with the National Portrait Gallery NPG catalogueexhibition,  “Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision,” will hold a one-day conference on Thursday, July 17.

The event will feature Professor Frances Spalding CBE, curator of the exhibition and professor of art history at Newcastle University, and Professor Maggie Humm, School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London.

The location is the Ondaatje Lecture Theatre, National Portrait Gallery, London WC2H 0HE, and the schedule is as follows:

2:30 p.m.: Registration
3 p.m.: Frances Spalding
4 p.m.: Tea
4.30 p.m.: Maggie Humm
5.30 p.m.: Panel discussion

COST: £25 for non-members of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain. For bookings: contact Lindsay Martin at lindsay@lindsaycmartin.co.uk

Becoming Virginia WoolfBecoming Virginia Woolf: Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read by Barbara Lounsberry, is out this month from the University Press of Florida.

According to the publisher’s website, “Starting with fourteen-year-old Woolf’s first palm-sized leather diary, Becoming Virginia Woolf illuminates how her private and public writing was shaped by the diaries of other writers including Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, the French Goncourt brothers, Mary Coleridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Woolf’s “diary parents”–Sir Walter Scott and Fanny Burney. These key literary connections open a new and indispensable window onto the story of one of literature’s most renowned modernists.”

Lounsberry is professor emerita of English at the University of Northern Iowa. She is the author of The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction and coeditor of Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality.

Lounsberry’s deeply researched and gracefully written book shows not only Woolf’s development into a great diarist but also her evolvement into the fiction and nonfiction writer revered today.–Gay Talese, author of A Writer’s Life

The National Literacy Trust book bench illustrating Mrs. Dalloway has been installed in Gordon Square, Mrs. Dalloway bench with mapBloomsbury for eight weeks as part of the Books About Town art trail.

The trail features fifty benches shaped as open books and decorated by professional illustrators and local artists. The project provides an opportunity for the public to explore London’s literary connections, while enjoying art from some of the country’s top artists and celebrating the fun of reading, according to the project website.

Fiona Osborne of One Red Shoe painted the Dalloway bench. It features Clarissa on the front and Septimus Warren Smith on the back, and it is located on the Bloomsbury Trail.

“I painted the Mrs. Dalloway bench as well as the Railway Children. It was a privilege to illustrate and will hopefully raise a good amount for the Literacy Trust when they hold the auction in eight weeks time,” said Osborne in an email to Blogging Woolf. She also offered to share photos of her work on the bench as it progressed.

The project was launched July 2, and the benches will be auctioned on Oct. 7, with the proceeds going to the National Literacy Trust.

The Guardian is asking book lovers to be part of a poll to select the book that will be depicted on the fifty-first bench. It is also requesting reader submissions of book bench photos.

We are spotting lots of Woolf sightings these days, many of them due to “Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision,” the exhibit of Woolf portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London, which opens today.

Curated by Frances Spalding, noted biographer and art historian, the exhibit includes portraits of Woolf by Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry, famous photographs by Beresford and Man Ray, and intimate images depicting Woolf with friends and family.

Media coverage

An article in The Independent, Feminist writer’s friendships: feel the fear and do it anyway,” talks about the way the exhibit “will shine a spotlight on the feminist author’s relationships with other women.” One example the authors cite is the “extraordinary literary collaboration” between Woolf and Katherine Mansfield.

Another, written by Frances Spalding for The Telegraph, focuses on the actual photographs themselves and is titled “The last photograph of Virginia Woolf,” which was taken by Gisèle Freund at 37 Mecklenburgh Square in 1939. In it, Spalding fills in the background of the photo, both literally and figuratively.

On the BBC website, “Virginia Woolf: Her life in pictures” shows and dissects a number of Woolf portraits — from the famous George Beresford 1902 platinum print to the 1939 family photo portrait taken by Gisèle Freund.

The exhibit, the events, the book and the competition

Besides portraits, the exhibit features portraits and rare archival material like letters and diaries that explore her life and achievements.

A full slate of events, from lunchtime lectures to weekend workshops, are also part of the show — and they are too numerous to detail here. But you can find them on the exhibit’s events page.

Those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be in London between July 10 and Oct. 26 may want to get a taste of the exhibit by ordering Spalding’s Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision, which is available online for £20.

And if you’re feeling lucky, enter the NPG’s competition for free exhibition tickets, catalogue and a two-night stay at the Morton Hotel in Russell Square.

Tweet it

If you use Twitter and want to tweet about the exhibit, use the hashtag #NPGWoolf.

BBC Two announced the production of a three-part television drama set over a 40-year period about the Bloomsbury group called, Life In Squares, which will focus on the relationships between Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

The Bloomsbury Group From the BBC:
Life In Squares tells the story of the Bloomsbury group over 40 years, from the death of Queen Victoria to the Second World War, as they attempted to forge a life free from the constraints of the past. Their pursuit of freedom and beauty was always passionate, often impossible and ultimately devastating, yet their legacy is still felt today.”

The series was written by Amanda Coe and will be directed by Simon Kaijser. Production starts this summer.

Other performances of Woolf in the works:

To mark the centenary of Virginia Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out, Routledge has put together a VirtualEnglish Studies Special Issue from English Studies that explores Woolf’s life and work. Six articles are available free of charge until the end of this year.

Odin Dekkers, the journal’s editor-in-chief, states:

In terms of subject matter, the articles presented here range from uncovering new facts about Woolf’s life to re-contextualizing and re-reading her work in the light of recent developments in Modernism studies.

Featured articles include:

  • ‘Suicidal Mania’ and Flawed Psychobiography: Two Discussions of Virginia Woolf
  • Revisiting Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and the Aesthetics of Respectability
  • Virginia Woolf’s Second Visit to Greece
  • Structure and Anti-Structure: Virginia Woolf’s Feminist Politics and “The Mark”
  • Modernism, Memory, and Desire: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf
  • Women Knitting: Domestic Activity, Writing, and Distance in Virginia Woolf’s Fiction
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