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Archive for May, 2017

The Vanessa Bell exhibit at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the first to feature Bell in a solo exhibit, is in its final days. But you can still get a look at it, whether you live in London or not.

Via the gallery

If you can, book your tickets before the exhibit ends June 4. However, if you can’t be there in person, you can visit the exhibit several ways.

Via the video

First, watch all or some of the series of videos on the exhibit. In this final Vanessa Bell video, co-curators Ian Dejardin and Sarah Milroy plant themselves in the last room of the exhibition to discuss the significance of Bell’s depiction of womanhood and reflect on one of her last self-portraits.

Via the catalogue

Second, buy the exhibit catalogue. I assure you it is breathtaking. When I first opened my full-color paperback version, I thoughtlessly wondered, “Which of these gorgeous paintings are Vanessa’s?” I quickly realized — all of them are. In the exhibit, as in the catalogue, Vanessa is permitted “to speak entirely for herself,” which Dulwich director and exhibit co-curator Dejardin notes in the catalogue preface that she has never before been allowed to do.

The catalogue’s 202 pages, along with the flyleafs and front and back covers, are filled with Bell’s art, along with photographs of the artist and Charleston, the Sussex home on which she lavished so much love and art. Many of her paintings — from her portraits to her abstracts — are reproduced in full-page format.

Besides Dejardin’s preface, it also includes background on Charleston and its artists. Author and exhibit co-curator Sarah Milroy discusses Bell as artist, mother, and feminist and puts the entirety of Bell’s life in an historical context. Hana Leaper expands upon that with her chapter, “Between London and Paris.” And Frances Spalding adds Virginia Woolf to the mix with her chapter on “Vanessa, Virginia and the Modern Portrait.”

Speaking of Spalding, a new edition of her biography of Woolf was released last year. The book was first published in 1983 and offers a fascinating and well-researched look at Bell, as well as other members of the Bloomsbury group. But one would expect nothing less from Spalding.

Via the shop

You can also shop the look, as I did. I went online and ordered some lovely items that promised to add the Bell look to my home. But whether they keep their promise or not, they are beautiful, they were shipped across the pond promptly, and I am enjoying them. Some of the items are sold out, but there are still a few available.

I was also excited to hear from Cecil Woolf that Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and the Great War, Seeing Peace Through an Open Window: Art, Domesticity & the Great War, my monograph on the two sisters that he published last year as part of his Bloomsbury Heritage series, is for sale at the Dulwich exhibit.

Items I purchased online from the Dulwich Picture Gallery Vanessa Bell exhibit.

 

 

 

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The two Lilys have been on my mind for a while, and after rereading To the Lighthouse and House of Mirth, I’ve begun a trail of comparisons and contrasts to which I plan to add some personal reflections and who knows what else for a future essay.

Virginia Woolf reviewed House of Mirth and regarded Lily Bart with sympathy, as having “many of the faults of her surroundings” but also “a capacity for better things which is never to be exercised.” I also found a paper by a Wharton scholar that compares Lily Bart and Clarissa Dalloway, but I don’t think the Lilys have been broached together.

Just to be sure, I googled and found just one reference, to a passage that unites them in a 1990 novel by Roberta Silman, Beginning the World Again: A Novel of Los Alamos. I got the book right away, of course, and soon found myself embroiled in a well-researched account, based on actual events and real as well as fictional characters, of the secret mission to build the atomic bomb in the New Mexico hills during World War II.                

The protagonist is Lily Failka, the wife of a nuclear physicist on the team. This is her story about her time there, her marriage, the families, the project, the secrecy. Before accompanying her new husband to Los Alamos, Lily had been a graduate student in literature and was writing a thesis on Melville. Classic novels come up frequently in her thinking and in analogies she makes. When she has an affair with one of the other scientists, she introduces him to literature. Years later, looking back:

There were often months, then years when I scarcely thought about Jacob, and when I did, I was so detached that I was another person, another Lily—“Lily Bart, Lily Briscoe, Joyce’s Lily in ‘The Dead,’ Lily of the Field?” I could hear Jacob’s low voice asking me. All those Lilys I had told him about. No, none of those, but someone still within me whom I scarcely knew anymore.

I sought out and had an email exchange with Roberta Silman, who proudly claims Grace Paley as her mentor and friend. Her context for the reference was Lily Failka’s introducing her physicist lover to her favorite literature, but Roberta noted characteristics that perhaps all the Lilys share, providing food for thought for my own project. Roberta also took pleasure in casting her Lily in the company of the memorable Lily Bart and Lily Briscoe.

 

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A beautiful frieze was re-discovered today! Under a magnifying lens we identified that the frieze was hand painted with a chalk based paint, applied onto plaster.

Read all of the posts by charlestonattic on The Charleston Attic

Source: charlestonattic | The Charleston Attic

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Literature Cambridge is offering a Reading Bloomsbury summer course, 23-28 July 2017, in Cambridge, England

This one-week immersion in the art of Vanessa Bell alongside Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, the sexual politics of Lytton Strachey and E.M. Forster, and the political ideas of J.M. Keynes, Leonard Woolf, Clive Bell, and others. The course takes an exciting new look at these interesting thinkers and their work.

Lecturers include Frances Spalding, Alison Hennegan, Claire Nicholson, Claudia Tobin and Peter Jones.

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Here is a Virginia Woolf event set for May 21 in Goshen, Mass.

This event is wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact

Paris Press 413-628-0051, info@parispress.org.

Books will be available to purchase.

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council
and the Schocken Family Foundation.

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In the video posted here, Fiona Shaw does a masterful reading of “Shakespeare’s Sister” from Virginia Woolf’s feminist polemic,  A Room of One’s Own (1929), which was based on a series of lectures Woolf gave at Cambridge University in October 1928.

Woolf’s speech is one of several featured in the digital project Figures of Speech,” presented by the Almeida Theatre in London.

The project places history’s greatest speeches centre stage through a series of films read by well-known actors speaking the words of important historical figures and moments, to explore how they resonate in 2017.

Besides Woolf’s speech, the project also includes talks by:

  • Labour Party Politician Neil Kinnock spoken by Ashley Walters
  • American politician Harvey Milk spoken by Ian McKellen
  • Nelson Mandela spoken by Lucian Msamati
  • AIDS activist Elizabeth Glaser spoken by Nicola Walker

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This just in: After three years in England, the 29th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf will be held in the U.S.A.

It will be hosted by Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, from June 6-9, 2019. Drew Shannon, associate professor of English at the university, will coordinate the conference.

More details to come.

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