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Archive for the ‘art exhibits’ Category

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

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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.

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The first exhibition featuring the life and achievements of Virginia Woolf through portraiture will be staged at the National Portrait Gallery in London, according to The Guardian.

NPG 5933. Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) by Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), 1912. Oil on board, 15 3⁄4 x 13 3⁄8 inches (400 x 340 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London

NPG 5933. Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) by Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), 1912. Oil on board, 15 3⁄4 x 13 3⁄8 inches (400 x 340 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London

The exhibit, curated by Frances Spalding, will feature more than 100 works, including paintings, photographs, drawings and rare archive material. The letter Woolf wrote to her sister Vanessa Bell before her suicide in 1941 will be included.

Titled “Virginia Woolf: Art, life and vision,” will be staged July 10 to Oct. 26. Read more.

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This month, the International Virginia Woolf Society shared a series of “interesting facts about Virginia Woolf on its Facebook page.

Vanessa Bell

The most recent, * Interesting fact no. 12, * told the story of how Woolf, 28, and her sister, Vanessa Bell, 30, “once appeared in public almost nude,” according to the judgment of some who saw them at a ball held in conjunction with Roger Fry’s 1910 exhibition of Post-Impressionist painters at the Grafton Galleries.

Inspired by the paintings, the two sisters browned their arms and legs, adorned themselves with flowers and beads, and appeared as bare-shouldered, bare-legged, ‘indecent’, figures from a Gauguin canvas.

It’s said that the two women recreated their Gauguin girl look for a later photo, which has not been located.

Visit the IVWS Facebook page for more interesting facts about Virginia, including the fact that Woolf’s Dreadnought Hoax escapade heads the list of “The Twelve Best Facts from a Year of Interesting Literature.”.

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Carol Anshaw has created paintings based on interpretations of Vita’s life in this exhibition, “Walking anshaw-ecardThrough Leaves,” Nov. 15 – Dec. 13  at Rockford University in Rockford, Ill.

For those of us not close enough to see it in person, some of these works, including an imagined tryst with Virginia in the basement at Richmond, are on Carol’s site.Carol has evoked Woolf in fiction as well as on canvas.

I began communicating with her when I was researching references to Woolf in contemporary fiction and posted about her on Blogging Woolf.

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Here’s a preview of Lottie Cole’s “Bloomsbury Interiors” show on Nov. 19 at Cricket Fine Art, 2 Park Walk, SW10.

http://youtu.be/SHqWpCpmQ_4

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Blogging Woolf is back from a holiday hiatus made longer by a bout with On Being Ill — the virus, not the Virginia Woolf essay published in 1930  by the Hogarth Press. But now that we are back, we recommend a couple of essays for your edification in this new year.

armoury-show-posterThe first, “1913–What year…” by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly on the SuchFriends blog, takes an in-depth look at the New York Armory Show in February 1913, connecting it to Bloomsbury Group painters Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, etc. who closed London’s Second Post-Impressionist Exhibit early so many of the paintings could be sent on to New York.

Donnelly promises to post updates all year on what was happening to writers in 1913. You can also check out the Such Friends page on Facebook.

The second is Blogging Woolf contributor Alice Lowe‘s latest published work, “On the Road Again,” which appears in the current issue of The Feathered Flounder.

Lowe notes that “being the mother of a daughter and the daughter of a mother is a rich source of feathered flounderreflection.” In this latest poignant essay, she draws on those dual experiences, as well as “from those other gems, memory and aging” to wonder whether she has encountered the beginning of her dotage.

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Night and Day: Monk’s House, Rodmell (2011), an original cut paper collage by Amanda White that is part of her Writers' Houses series. See more at http://www.amandawhite-contemporarynaiveart.com.

Woolf and collage, anyone?

That was the question that came up on the VWoolf Listserv a few weeks ago. Other list members promptly and generously shared information on the topic of Woolf and modern collage.

Here are the highlights of that discussion, along with some details I have added:

  • Brenda Helt cited Woolf’s writing about the 1910 and 1912 Post-Impressionist Exhibitions and the Omega Workshop.  Specifically, she mentioned the
    sometimes snide and snarky commentary” in Volumes 1 and 2 of Woolf’s letters, indexed as “Post-impressionist Exhibition” and “Omega Workshop,” and “her later more complex and appreciative understanding” included in the chapters on Post-impressionism and the Omega in Woolf’s biography of Roger Fry.
  • Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other post-impressionists worked with collage. Both used collage in objects sold at the Omega Workshops and in decorating furniture at Charleston Farmhouse and elsewhere.
  • Woolf knew of early Cubist collage, but would have been most familiar with applied arts such as collage through Bell’s and Grant’s work, as well as the work of other Bloomsbury artists.
  • Three examples of Bell’s and Grant’s collages from 1912, 1914 and 1915 are included in the exhibition catalog for A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections. You can read a post about the last stop on that exhibit’s 2010 cross-country tour here. Collage examples in the exhibition catalogue include:
    • Bell’s Composition (1914), oil and gouache on cut-and-pasted paper, Page 124
    • Grant’s In Memoriam: Rupert Brooke (1915), oil and collage on panel, Page 176
    • Grant’s Design for a Fire Screen (1912), watercolor, gouache and collage, Page 220
  • Christopher Reed, associate professor of English and visual culture at Penn State, discusses and shows examples of others in Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, Domesticity. They include:
    • Grant’s On the Mantelpiece, 46 Gordon Square (1914), oil and collage on board, Page 149.
    • Roger Fry’s Essay in Abstract Design (1915), oil and collaged bus tickets, Page 155.
    • Grant’s Abstract Kinetic Collage Painting with Sound (1914), gouache, watercolor and collage on paper, Page 156
    • Grant’s Abstract (1914-5), paint, fabric and collaged paper on board, Page 158
    • Grant’s Interior at 46 Gordon Square (1914-5), collaged paper on board, Page 159
  • In Bloomsbury Rooms, Reed discusses Grant’s use of a piece of foil from a cigarette pack liner in In Memoriam as its only collaged element and says it is echoed in Woolf’s review of Edward Marsh’s 1918 memoir on Brooke (161). He also mentions that reviewers unanimously dismissed Grant’s abstract collages in the 1915 Vorticist exhibition, calling them a foreign joke (162).
  • Other important research sources on this topic include:
    • Frances Spalding’s biographies of Bell and of Grant
    • Simon Watney’s The Art of Duncan Grant
    • Douglas Turnbaugh’s Duncan Grant and the Bloomsbury Group
    • Richard Shone’s The Art of Bloomsbury
    • Bell and Nicholson’s Charleston

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Editor’s Note: This commentary and photo were contributed by Suzanne Bellamy who exhibited her painting, “Woolf and the Chaucer Horse,” at the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

"Woolf and the Chaucer Horse" by Suzanne Bellamy

The research

Researching illuminated manuscripts and Psalters opened the vision of the written page to the visual world that has always been there for me in Woolf as a reader. The page drips with image and interaction with other form, and as a writer of that tradition she embodies that now invisible world. Woolf says in ANON that the printing press ultimately took that rich layered other dimension away, but she is still soaked in it in her visual invocations, in her synaesthesic imagination.

The painting

I started working on the painting as I was reading the scholarship around Between The Acts, the late 1930s and Woolf’s last writings. Seeing her riding on Chaucer’s horse, as the Chaucer of her times, came visually first, then all else flowed from that. The Chaucerian trope of the stories wrapped within the journey infuses all Woolf’s work, as also in the essayistic form itself, street haunting being an expression of the pilgrim’s way.

The painting is as much an illuminated manuscript as a map… as a collage of layered memory, where everything happens and all at the same time, as in the novel. In harmony with the 1930s’ rural revivalism and sensitivity to possible loss of cultural heritage, the spirit of continuity is challenged by the threat from the planes and the coming war. But the land itself holds the dream of a common culture which is soaked in Nature and wild forms, animals birds, structures and sounds.

Some images swirled around in my head for weeks but never made it onto the canvas much as I tried to force the issue. The old wall and the ladder, the horse with the green tail, Sohrab the dog, the greenhouse, Mrs. Swithin’s hammer, and also Mrs. Swithin’s criss-cross letter (a term from ancient manuscripts), imps, elves, demons and mirrors, all the flowers, cars, the barn, the pub, the megaphone, Giles feeling chained to a rock, the white lady — those never made it but are in there somehow.

But the stegasaurus and the mammoth made it, and the fossils, the Roman roads, the planes, the pond, the house (taken from Vita Sackville-West’s book on English Country Houses), the cows, the Ouse and the map of the Sussex coast, and then the Celtic maze which held it all together. The maze, the Chaucerian horse, and the lines of the Prologue were the moments that gave it all a structure. The idea that words came from hearing birdsong drawn from the core of the maze holds the centre.

There are several examples of doubling and tripling images, as for example with the Uffington White Horse, the Guernica Horse and the Chaucer Horse. Also with the Circle of Birds and the formation of Lancaster Bombers over the English Channel, as contrary formations. The South Downs, the coastline, the map of Sussex, Lewes and Rodmell, the River Ouse and tributaries, prehistory, mastodons, cars and Roman roads, images improvised from medieval illuminated manuscripts. I used the Oxford Ellesmere text for the five lines of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Copying those five lines straight onto the canvas from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, from the online Oxford site of the Ellesmere text, was a deep thrill.

The exhibit

The painting, which measures two by four metres, was planned to act as a set canvas behind the pageant performance, but that proved to be technically impossible. In the end it hung in the Bute Hall below the stained glass windows, close to the window of Chaucer. The light streamed through the image of Woolf on her horse, the Chaucer of her times, and all was well.

More coverage of the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf on Blogging Woolf:

  

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Valentina Mazzei and her Woolf bust

Today is the last day to vote for Valentina Mazzei, in the Art Takes London competition.

Her Virginia Woolf bust charmed conferencegoers at the 20th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf in Georgetown, Kentucky, last June. Vote here by clicking on the stars in the upper right hand corner of the page.

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