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Paula Maggio:

Duncan Grant and the 1940 Venice Biennale

Originally posted on The Charleston Attic:

CHA-E-159-A_red

CHA-E-159. Invitation sent to Duncan Grant for the 1940 Venice Biennale. Photograph © The Charleston Trust

In 1939 Duncan Grant was invited with five other artists – Frank Dobson, Glyn Philpot, Frances Hodgkins, Alfred Munnings and Edward Wadsworth – to represent Britain at the 1940 Venice Biennale, the invite for which we have recently unearthed in the Angelica Garnett Gift. First held on April 30th, 1895 to celebrate the silver anniversary of King Umberto I and Margherita of Savoy, the Venice Biennale remains to this day one of the leading exhibitions of contemporary art in the world. In addition to Bloomsbury group member Clive Bell, the Selection Committee for Britain’s 1940 entry consisted of Sir Lionel Faudel-Phillips, Campbell Dogson, Lawrence Haward, Sir Eric Maclagan, Herbert Read, the Earl of Sandwich, and Alfred Longden.

CHA-E-159-A_Cropped logoDetail of CHA-E-159

Having been allocated his own room at the show, Grant planned a retrospective display…

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art exhibit

Conference goers at The Mark on the Wall exhibit in Bloomsburg, Pa.

Artwork and the catalogue for the juried exhibition The Mark on the Wall, which was part of the the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, is now available for sale.

The catalogue, which is available at cost through Blurb as a print-on-demand item, presents the work of 47 artists from as far away as Dubai. The price is $37.49, plus shipping. The art work available for sale is unframed and will be shipped directly to buyers on June 30, when the show closes.

Eighty percent of the proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to the artist, with 20 percent going to the Bloomsburg University scholarship fund.

If you are interested in purchasing a piece of art, contact conference organizers at woolf2015@bloomu.edu before June 30. After that, all unsold work will be returned to the artists.

The artists’ work, inspired by Woolf and her female contemporaries, was chosen from among more than 400. Four awards were given at the juried exhibition. Co-Best of Show Awards went to Erika Lizée and Carolyn Sheehan. Honorable mentions went to Mischa Brown, Chieko Murasugiand Jacqueline Dee Parker. See the full list of exhibitors.

Mark on the Wall catalogue screenshot

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I am reporting on the absolutely fabulous, amazing, and incredible 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf hosted by the brilliant and scintillating Julie Vandivere and her devoted co-conspirators, including the intrepid and undaunted Erica Delsandro as well as the ever-present, deeply wise and dedicated Megan Hicks and Emma Slotterback and everyone else who worked so hard to create something so memorable and durable — a conference that is a gift to marvel over and recall with great pleasure.

Cecil Woolf, Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Vara Neverow at #WoolfConf15

Cecil Woolf, Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Vara Neverow at #WoolfConf15

The conference was truly a work of art in every possible sense. It was as if every piece of the conference was curated and placed exactly where it was supposed to be. (And Thursday evening at the conference also included an actual and truly lovely art exhibit/art competition where attendees imbibed delicious beverages and snacked on heavenly hors d’oeuvres while chatting and mingling and looking at the works.)

Brilliant papers, panels, plenaries

The papers, panels and plenaries were all inspiring and dynamic and brilliant. The opening reception was gracious and intimate. Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson arrived at the conference on Thursday with numerous copies of Bloomsbury Heritage Series pamphlets.

Bloomsburg itself was beautiful, as was the university campus, and the restaurants in the town were delightful. The performance of Septimus and Clarissa, with the playwright, Ellen McLaughlin, taking the part of the older Clarissa, was stupendous, and Mrs. Dalloway’s Party, which followed the performance, offered an abundance of tasty tidbits as well as hilarious opportunities for the attendees to try on a variety of vintage hats, activities resulting in many, many photographs. The food at the conference was abundant and delicious. At one break, mounds of whipped cream, fresh strawberries and sponge cake were served.

And the banquet itself was nourishing for both the mind and body, a wonderful chance for creating new friendships and spending time with those one sees so rarely. Jean Moorcroft Wilson interviewed Cecil Woolf at the banquet in a wonderfully playful but also quite substantive fashion — one of the many high points of the conference. And, as always, the Virginia Woolf Players read from Woolf’s works as the closing event of the gathering.

BU undergrad panel 2

Ashley Michler, undergraduate at Bloomsburg University, presents her paper.

Bonding near and far

The shuttle bus to and from Newark gave Woolfians coming from afar a chance to bond with each other on the journey. And the weather was, of course, perfect.

To have so many Woolfians gathered in one place is always a peak moment of the year for me and, I am sure, for many others. To also have at the conference, in keeping with its inclusive title, so many scholars who study Woolf’s female contemporaries was a superb new feature and one that clearly will influence future research and create new connections among the various interwoven webs that connect Woolf to other modernists.

That there were so many new faces was particularly lovely. The newcomers ranged from the modernist scholars to the high-school students who presented their papers with aplomb and confidence and from the graduate students who had never before attended this conference to the common readers who are always most welcome to join the Woolfian pack. Rumor has it that the annual Woolf conference is the very best first conference for graduate students because it is the most nurturing, and I can’t say I was surprised. But this one was particularly open to a range of participants.

Jane Marcus memorial

Conference participants had the opportunity to add their written tribute to Jane Marcus in a special journal.

Reflections on two scholars

In addition to all the ebullient excitement of the conference, there was also a time of reflection. At the Thursday evening reception, Jane Marcus was remembered. Linda Camarasana, Mark Hussey, Jean Mills, J. Ashley Foster, and Suzette Henke all spoke and shared with those present their memories of a formidable and magnificent Woolfian who, among her many achievements as a teacher and a friend and a scholar was bold enough to challenge the conventional perception of Woolf as an aesthete and a mad woman and was among those scholars who brought Woolf’s work and her feminism, socialism and pacifism into focus in ways that will continue to endure. Jane Marcus’s landmark works include Art and Anger: Reading like a Woman and Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy.

Also remembered at the conference with sorrow and gratitude was Shari Benstock, some of whose most familiar works are Women of the Left Bank, Paris 1900-1940, Textualizing the Feminine: On the Limits of Genre and the co-edited A Handbook of Literary Feminisms. These two women truly shaped the way we read Woolf and her contemporaries. I was very glad that both were acknowledged.

See the conference on social media

For those of you who weren’t at the conference and would want to “see” it, you should check the social media. There have been lots of postings on the conference’s Facebook page, on the Blogging Woolf Facebook page and on the International Virginia Woolf Society Facebook page, as well as on the Blogging Woolf website. You can also go online on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hashtag/woolfconf15 or with the app at #woolfconf15 to see comments about the conference.VW books

Share your recollections with The Miscellany

Finally, for those of you who want to share your remembrances of Jane Marcus and Shari Benstock, I encourage you to send me your recollections for The Virginia Woolf Miscellany. I will be compiling these contributions to a section of a future issue. Remembrances of all aspects of the conference itself are also very welcome.

I am deeply grateful to all those who worked so hard to make this unforgettable conference possible. This was a truly stellar labor of love, and one that will always be cherished by those who attended.

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Conference organizer Julie Vandivere and student intern Emma Slotterback

Conference organizer Julie Vandivere and student intern Emma Slotterback

I’d never heard of Bloomsburg University before Julie Vandivere volunteered to host the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at her home institution.

Now word of the charming campus and gracious town in which it is located has spread around the world, due to the way the town and the campus teamed up to embrace Woolf, the conference and each one of its nearly 250 participants from as far away as China.

Small-town charm

Welcome Woolf scholars

Just one of the signs welcoming Woolfians to Bloomsburg.

The town’s website boasts “small-town charm and down-home hospitality.” Those weren’t empty words. The town of 14,000 was blanketed with signs welcoming and directing conference goers. Conference events were spread throughout its perimeters. Community members participated in the events and graciously offered directions, greetings and other help. And high school students from the area’s three high schools, Bloomsburg, Berwick and Southern Columbia, had their own pre-conference panels.

The result? Two hundred and six presenters from 14 countries and five continents had the opportunity to fall in love with small town Bloomsburg, Pa., and its university community.

The play, the party, the exhibit, the readings, the banquet

Here are some highlights of the four-day event, Bloomsburg University’s first of an international stature:

    • A total of 68 events — from panels to roundtables to a printmaking workshop to a trip to Rickett’s Glen State Park for a hike and a picnic — with 206 presenters.
    • A powerful Friday evening performance of Ellen McLaughlin’s Septimus and Clarissa by the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. The ensemble had just one day to rehearse and they did a masterful job, with McLaughlin playing the role of the adult Clarissa. According to her, 60 percent of the words in the script were Woolf’s and 40 percent were her own.

      BTE Septimus and Clarissa

      On stage with “Septimus and Clarissa”

    • Mrs. Dalloway’s Party, an after-theater lark that allowed theater goers from the conference and the community to don hats and dress-up clothes and meet and mingle with each other as well as the players, the playwright — and conference guests of honor Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia, and Jean Moorcroft Wilson, biographer, literary critic and wife of Cecil Woolf.
    • A juried exhibition of works on paper titled The Mark on the Wall that presented the work of 47 artists from as far away as Dubai. Their work, inspired by Woolf and her female contemporaries, was chosen from among more than 400. Co-Best of Show Awards went to Erika Lizée and Carolyn Sheehan. Honorable mentions went to Mischa Brown, Chieko Murasugi and Jacqueline Dee Parker. See the full list of exhibitors. View the catalog to see the entire body of work in the exhibition that will be on display at the Gallery at Greenly Center through June 30. A catalog will be available for purchase on Blurb, as of June 9.
    • A memorial to Woolf scholar Professor Jane Marcus that was coordinated by members of the International Virginia Woolf Society and introduced by Erica Delsandro, co-organizer of the conference.
    • A poetry reading by Cynthia Hogue and a reading by Maggie Gee from her novel Virginia Woolf in Manhattan.
    • Saturday evening banquet where Woolf lovers celebrated her work, as well as their comaraderie, and were entertained by a charmingly humorous two-way conversation between Cecil Woolf and his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson in which Woolf shared memories of Virginia and Leonard Woolf as well as other Bloomsbury Group members, including Bertrand Russell and Duncan Grant. Of course, the Virginia Woolf Players also made an appearance, with a troupe of Woolf scholars reading some of their favorite comical and serious passages from her work.

      Jeanne Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf

      Jeanne Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf

    • The introduction of six new books in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series from Cecil Woolf Publishers of London.

The roundtables

    • A roundtable on modernist theory with Celia Marshik, Judith Brown, Allison Pease and Emily Ridge during which the panelists and the audience engaged in a discussion of high and middlebrow modernism and how such studies could do more to include both well-known and lesser known women authors.
    • An introduction to launching a newly proposed journal, Feminist Modernist Studies, edited by Cassandra Laity and Anne Fernald, that will be published twice a year in both print and digital formats and will attempt to expand the modernist literary cannon to include more women by giving them space of their own.

So many panel choices

Each time slot in the conference program included a choice among four or five panels. That made choosing tough, as most times there were two or more panels I wanted to attend. Memorable presentations I attended included:

    • Anne Martin’s presentation on “Village Community and the Coming of War in the Final Novels of Virginia Woolf of and Dorothy L. Sayers,” which made me want to re-read Murder Must Advertise (1933) and Gaudy Night, (1935), as well as The Wimsey Papers.

      Celiese Lypka and Ann Martin

      Celiese Lypka and Ann Martin

    • Patricia Laurence on Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen and her comment on the “porous borders between poetry and prose” as well as the fact that Bowen was an agent for the Ministry of Information during the Great War.
    • Mark Hussey’s paper on Woolf and Rebecca West, in which he coined the term “modernist star system” and shared the fact that the proof version of A Room of One’s Own includes a two-page passage explicitly blaming women for reflecting men back to themselves as larger than they really are. Woolf makes the same point in the final published version but does so in brief. The passage appears after Woolf’s mention of West.
    • Elisa Kay Sparks’ tongue-in-cheek bar graphs on Woolf’s and Georgia O’Keeffe’s use of flowers in their work, with particular attention to – and entertaining visuals of – the calla lily.
    • Maria Aparecida de Oliveira’s fascinating paper on the correspondence between Woolf and Brazilian writer Victoria Ocampo (1893-1979). The two were introduced at Man Ray’s photo exhibit in London in 1934. After her presentation, Maria told me that the two women writers discussed fascism in their late 1930s letters.
    • Leslie Hankins’ slide show of illustrations that accompanied Woolf’s London Scene essays for the British Good Housekeeping, as well as the stories and graphics that surrounded them in the magazine’s layout.
    • Diane Gillespie’s discussion of Woolf’s rejection of novelists who pitched their books to the Hogarth Press, with a focus on Anne Tibble.

      Diane Gillespie

      Diane Gillespie

    • Eleanor McNee’s illumination of Woolf’s animosity towards her two High Anglican cousins, Dorothea and Rosamond Stephen.
    • A panel on “Woolf and the Political,” with Jean Mills advising that when one hears criticism of Woolf’s racism and classicism, one should “consider the diversity of her audience” and Mary Wilson saying we should “consider the servants as the contemporaries” of the writers we study.
    • On that same panel, Ashley Foster presented her original archival research that documents the Bloomsbury Group’s activism in war relief efforts, such as the Quaker relief effort in the Spanish Civil War. Woolf, for example, attended the Spain and Culture event in June 1937 in the Royal Albert Hall. She also sold her manuscript pages of Three Guineas to support relief efforts and lent her name to the fundraising efforts.
    • Emily Hinnov’s interesting comparison of the patriarchal fathers in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Katherine Mansfield’s “The Daughters of the Late Colonel.”

      Emily Hinnov

      Emily Hinnov

    • Drew Shannon’s discussion of Woolf’s and Mansfield’s diaries. In his examination of the diaries on microfilm at the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, he learned that Woolf’s early diaries were more exercise books than traditional diaries, as she edited them greatly. Woolf used composition books for her diary, and beginning in 1920, Woolf consistently added a long rule on the left side of each page. To the left of that rule, she added the day’s date. Poignantly, Shannon found that Woolf had added the rule on each page of the 1941 diary. All of the pages are ruled, even though the pages after her March 28 death are blank. For readers of Mansfield, he recommended Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, complete edition, edited by Margaret Scott.
    • Karen Levenback brought Florence Melian Stawell to our attention, sharing her work as well as her connections to the Bloomsbury Group.
    • Vara Neverow explained sexual dysphoria in West’s Return of the Soldier, Mrs. Dalloway and the controversial Sylvia Townsend Warner’s “A Love Match.”
    • In a panel titled “Spies and Surveillance,” Mark David Kaufman, Judith Allen and Kimberly Engdahl Coates discussed Woolf and her contemporaries as whistleblowers, subversives and victims of surveillance.

      Sierra Altenbach and Cody Smeltz

      Sierra Altenbach and Cody Smeltz

    • Three undergrads from Bloomsbury University – Cody Smeltz, Sierra Altenbach and Ashley Michler — presented thoughtful papers on modernist masculinity and femininity in the work of H.D., Myna Loy, Emily Coleman and others.

Catch the conference photos

Many photos were taken at the conference and shared via Instagram. Here’s where you can view them:

Catch the conference tweets

Tweets about the conference are still coming in. Find them by searching the hashtag #WoolfConf15. The latest one is posted below, along with a tweet about one of the final panels of the conference.

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So many exciting links to Bloomsbury and Virginia Woolf resources are popping up on social media this week. Since I don’t fry_booklet_virginia_woolf_1-209x300have time to write about them because I am busy preparing for the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries, June 4-7 at Bloomsburg University, I am posting links to them here.

  1. On Twitter, I learned of a rare find in the basement of the Bristol Museum of a booklet printed for the Fry memorial exhibition held at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in 1935. It contains the text of the exhibition’s opening speech written and delivered by Woolf. “After further research, it appears this booklet is one of the most sought after publications by the writer,” wrote Fay Curtis in her museum post. “The print run was just 125, which is why they are so rare today, and the curator at the time had several to give away. Thankfully for us, he slipped one into the exhibition file – where it remained for eighty years. We have now removed it from the old file in the basement and entered it into the Fine Art collection.”
  2. On Facebook, I learned that a copy of the exhibit booklet is available at the University of Toronto Libraries.
  3. Facebook also told me Virginia Woolf is on the move at Victoria Library. Here’s the post, which pictured the small Woolf doll on a picnic blanket in front of a college building: “Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is on the move. She left her secure box in the E.J. Pratt Library for the summer and will be visiting places on campus. Her first stop is in front of the Victoria College building.Victoria Library FB post screenshot” The Woolf doll is actually listed in the library catalog.
  4. From Catherine Hollis via Facebook comes the news that letters from George Mallory to Lytton Strachey are up for sale. You can view the lot.
  5. From the VWoolfListserv comes news that letter from Clive Bell to Lytton Strachey are also up for sale.
  6. This morning, the items below popped up on Twitter:

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Originally posted on The Charleston Attic:

It is very easy to get lost in imagining the world, people and stories behind the pieces in the Angelica Garnett Gift and this preparatory sketch by Duncan Grant for a mural designed by both Grant and Vanessa Bell is no exception.

CHA-P-1117-R_C

CHA/P/1117, Duncan Grant, Cinderella, coloured pencil on paper, date unknown, 29.5 cm x 23 cm. Photograph © The Charleston Trust

The mural was commissioned by the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts and the British Institute of Adult Education in 1943 for the dining hall of Devonshire Hill School in Tottenham. The design by Grant and Bell depicted the fairytale Cinderella, and was completed during World War II. Sadly, the mural no longer exists, having been dismantled and destroyed during renovation works at the school. Perhaps even more regrettable is that few people are aware that it existed at all. Like many other decorative works…

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Charleston AtticOh, the lovely connections we make in the world of Woolf. This time, the connection gives us all a behind-the-scenes look at Charleston, the Sussex site known as Bloomsbury in the country.

Alice Purkiss, a curatorial trainee at The Charleston Trust, contacted Blogging Woolf via a Facebook message last week to ask that we help publicize The Charleston Attic. The blog was created by Purkiss and fellow trainee Dorian Knight, who just left the project. His replacement at Charleston is Samantha Wilson.

CharlestonIn existence one year,The Charleston Attic shares the trainees’ research at the former home of Vanessa Bell and her family and includes discussions of Woolf and her works. According to the blog, it “is a record of our work cataloguing, researching and interpreting the Angelica Garnett Gift from the Charleston attic – overlooked by a bust of Virginia Woolf.”

Recent posts of particular interest to Woolfians include:

The curatorial trainee project with the Charleston Trust provides for six-month training periods for a dozen trainees over three years.

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