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Archive for the ‘Bloomsbury’ Category

Wandering around Bloomsbury on my first day in London this June, I happened upon the Morton Hotel.

I wasn’t exactly looking for it. But Ann Martin of the University of Saskatchewan had planted the name in my mind with an offhand comment at this year’s Woolf conference. Upon hearing that I would be alone in the capital city for a few days, she remarked, “You could have tea at the Morton.”

And so I did. I had written about tea at the Morton before — back in 2014 — but I had forgotten the details. Consequently, my afternoon relaxing in the hotel’s Library bar and lounge was full of a series of lovely surprises, all with a Bloomsbury touch.

I chose a seat in front of the fireplace, where I set in for a good read as well as refreshment. I relaxed with a selection of books about Bloomsbury laid out on a sofa table and the Morton’s traditional afternoon tea, which is truly lovely and reasonably priced at £15. It included a tiered dish of tiny crustless sandwiches, pastries and fresh fruit, along with scones served with jam and clotted cream.

All around me — from entry to ladies room — were photo collages of Bloomsbury figures as well as reproductions of art by the Bloomsbury group and Hogarth Press book covers designed by Vanessa Bell.

Next time you’re in London, take tea at the Morton. It’s open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Meanwhile, take a look at what you’ll find.

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Entry to the Morton Hotel, 2 Woburn Place, in Russell Square

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The chandelier in the entryway features Hogarth Press book covers.

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Once inside the entry, look to your left and “take the lift to the basement.”

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The cozy sitting area in front of the fireplace, my chosen spot.

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Books ranging from Bloomsbury Rooms to Bloomsbury Portraits are available for browsing.

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Traditional afternoon tea: as delicious as it looks.

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Collages of Bloomsbury photos decorate the walls.

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This sitting area nestled into a corner featured art by Vanessa Bell.

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Even the hallway to the ladies room — as well as the ladies itself — was decorated with Bloomsbury art.

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Here’s a blog post from the Charleston Attic about children, creativity and Bloomsbury.

“This week’s discovery of a child’s drawing in the Gift can be seen to reveal more about the children of Bloomsbury and their involvement in the creative practises of the household.”

Read the entire post: Angelica in the Studio

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Hamnett illustration

Nina Hamnett illustration of an Omega interior for Roger Fry’s The Artist as Decorator 1917. Copyright The Courtauld Gallery.

 

David Herbert’s newly opened exhibition A Room of Their Own: Lost Bloomsbury Interiors 1914-30 at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, England brings together rarely seen pieces of fine and decorative art to suggest the essence of lost Bloomsbury spaces.

The exhibition works from illustrations and photographs to recreate lost interiors that have been destroyed due to changing tastes and fashions. In this small gallery, nestled on the River Avon in the centre of Bath, Bloomsbury pieces are brought back together providing a springboard from which to visualise oneself eating breakfast or listening to music, as Virginia Woolf would have done, in a Bloomsbury room.

Opening with three portraits of the co-founders of the Omega Workshops, Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, and Duncan Grant, the exhibition then leads into the first “room” which recreates the style of Fry’s 1917 Omega interior design for The Artist as Decorator, illustrated for Colour Magazine by Nina Hamnett. The bold abstraction typical of the early Omega workshop style is felt here and one can imagine how impressive the original space must have been. Of particular interest is a Lily Pond design screen by Duncan Grant which is radiant, hinting at the brightness of colour originally intended.  A lovingly worn geometric painted table also sits in front of the fire place which is dressed exactly how Hamnett depicted it in her 1917 illustration.

DG tulips

Duncan Grant, unfinished work Tulips in a Vase 1914.

The exhibition is particularly strong in its comparison of decorative and fine art and its consideration of the relationship between the two. Duncan Grant’s Cat on a Cabbage design for a cross-stitch chair seat sits next to his painting The White Jug and shows his use and exploration of abstraction across forms. His unfinished painting Tulips in a Vase also provides a rare glimpse into his process as a painter and leaves the bare skeleton sketch of the design uncovered, half way through building up colour and shape in paint.

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Vanessa Bell Adam and Eve design fan hung with figurative sketches.

There are also rarely seen works by Vanessa Bell, including her painting Vase, Hat and Flowers and a fan vibrantly painted in her Adam and Eve design. Here the Omega interest in clothing and accessories is hinted at. Well-known Omega fabric designs also fall down the walls and over chairs giving an impression of how textiles were an important medium at the Omega. Indeed, such an exhibition as A Room of Their Own which brings together the fine and decorative arts, hanging them side by side, succeeds in representing the Omega Workshops’ “wider aesthetic project of proclaiming modernism as an overall experience”1.

Omega Showcase

Display case with Duncan Grant’s Grapes fabric design glimpsed in the background.

The exhibition moves through later designs to an impression of Dorothy Wellesley’s dining room at her Sussex home, Penns-in-the-Rocks, created by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1929. Here the colours have turned more towards elegant pastels and the wall panels depict classically influenced scenes such as a jug on a plinth and three nude bathers. Finally there is a nod to Charleston, a fantastic black three-fold screen designed by Duncan Grant and embroidered by Ethel Grant, and photographs of Duncan Grant in the studio at Charleston in 1974. Thus we see the progression of Bloomsbury style and the range of moods that it encompassed.

Other notable highlights are a Vanessa Bell teapot painted for her sister Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry’s abstract marquetry giraffe design cabinet, and a rare example of painted furniture by Dora Carrington.

A Room of Their Own: Lost Bloomsbury Interiors 1914-30 at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, England runs until 4 September, 2016.

1Koppen, R.S. (2009), Virginia Woolf, Fashion, and Literary Modernity, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

 

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Produced by BBC TV, this 1970 documentary, Virginia Woolf: A Night’s Darkness, A Day’s Sail, was unavailable for years but is now posted on YouTube.

It is a gem, including footage of Talland House, the Stephen family’s summer home, and Godrevy Lighthouse. It also includes interviews with Leonard Woolf (from 1967), Angelica Garnett, Quentin Bell, George Rylands, Elizabeth Bowen, Duncan Grant, Benedict Nicolson, Lord David Cecil, Dame Janet Vaughn, Raymond Mortimer, and Louie Mayer (the Woolfs’ cook at Monk’s House). They talk about Woolf’s character traits, as well as her genius, her writing habits and her love of London. And they discuss the Bloomsbury Group.

Portions of Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and A Room of One’s Own (1929) are also read on camera. And you’ll see the actual Hogarth press.

She always asked everybody, ‘What did you have for breakfast.’ – Angelica Garnett

 

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Vanessa Bell née Stephen was born on this day in 1879. A key member in the creation of the Bloomsbury aesthetic, Vanessa was a prolific worker and over the course of her life produced vast quantiti…

Source: On Vanessa Bell’s Birthday: 30th May 1879

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The new major summer exhibition at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, DomesticityVictoria Art Gallery will recreate some of the famous Bloomsbury Group’s interior designs. The exhibition, A Room…

Source: ‘Designs’ on the Bloomsbury Group

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Zoe Wolstenholme

Zoe Wolstenholme

Blogging Woolf’s first regular blogger from the other side of the pond is now on board. Just out of her Charleston internship, Zoe Wolstenholme will contribute posts that add an emphasis on the visual arts of the Bloomsbury group — and will link them to the natural world, with an emphasis on gardens.

From North Yorkshire in England, Zoe studied English Literature at the University of Exeter, writing her dissertation on The Room of One’s Own: Interiority in Virginia Woolf’s short fiction and Post-Impressionist Art. Here she examined the relationship between Woolf’s writing and the painting styles of French and British Post-Impressionist artists exploring the room as a metaphor for the mind. Zoe went on to study for an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies before being awarded a curatorial traineeship with The Charleston Trust in 2015.

Charleston House, dubbed “Bloomsbury in Sussex,” was the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, found for them by Bell’s sister Virginia Woolf while she was walking across the South Downs from her own country house at the time, Asheham. Today The Charleston Trust cares for and preserves Charleston House and its collection of art works both collected and executed by Bell and Grant.

Charleston House

Charleston House

At Charleston, Zoe worked on The Angelica Garnett Gift, a donation of 8,000 works of art by Bell, Grant and other members of the Bloomsbury group. Here she photographed, catalogued and researched these unseen works publishing these findings on The Charleston Attic. As part of this traineeship Zoe also wrote an extended research paper on the Angelica Garnet Gift titled Dressing Modern Identity, which examined the overlooked importance of dress to Bell and Grant’s personal and artistic lives. This article will be published in the next edition of Clothing Cultureswhich is available to read online.

The Charleston Attic

“The Process of Abstraction” by Zoe Wolstenholme on The Charleston Attic

Zoe is now working at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. Here she hopes to pursue her interest in art and the environment, which was the topic of her MA dissertation Art Spaces for Ecological Well-being. This piece examined how art has the potential to influence our relationship with the natural world. By working with the botanical art and other collections at Kew, Zoe hopes to be a part of inspiring people to care for the natural world.

Through writing for Blogging Woolf Zoe also hopes to continue her research into Woolf’s work and her circle, the Bloomsbury group.

Look for Zoe’s first post — “What Woolf wore”–  tomorrow.

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art © Walters & Cohen

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art © Walters & Cohen

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