Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Bells, The Bells

After Alfriston, a visit to Charleston Farmhouse, home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, bohemian members of the Bloomsbury Set and friends of EM Forster, Virginia Woolf (Vanessa's sister) and other influential minds.

The building was undoubtedly beautiful and the rooms were unlike anything I'd ever seen before. The owners painted or embellished pretty much every available surface, with the energy and miscellany of the daubs evident in every irregular stroke. There was a fabulous door into a dressing room still bearing the pencil outline of a vase of flowers, hastily painted in.

Charleston PhotoCharleston PhotoCharleston PhotoCharleston Photo

The building now works as a gallery and arts support network, continuing the nurturing existence of its original owners and I wholeheartedly encourage any such artistic subsidy.

I object, however, to an entrance fee of £7.00, with the student discounted rate of £3.50 only available on Thursdays (?!) with guides in every room offering to tell you 'anything you wish to know'. There was no introduction, information or printed context of the house or its occupants, so I knew not what questions to ask or what interest to have. I came away in love with the contrasting and slapdash textiles, sorely wanting to create more tapestry cushions, and feeling utterly cheated of £7.00.

What a shame, but what a beauty. I would recommend it, certainly, but take a hefty wallet and do some homework first!!


Dennis said...

Helen, thanks so much for blogging about your trip to Charleston. I'm a huge Bloomsbury freak and could have told you ALL about it if we'd gone together. My biggest regret about my trip to London at Christmas was the timing. I'd hoped my first trip to England would include a visit to Charleston, but alas, it isn't open at that time of year.

Promise to go with me on my next trip? I'll pay your entrance fee and you can pretend to be interested as I blather on about the soap opera that was Bloomsbury.

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