Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bloomsbury in Northampton

This morning I found out that The Smith College Art Museum is having a Special Exhibit of work by The Bloomsbury Artists called A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections from April 3 - June 15, 2010. Wow - so close to home. I bet I'll be going a few times if I can convince some other art lover friends to come visit me and take in the exhibit.

There are some great talks at Smith including one by Frances Spaulding,
the biographer of Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, three of the important Bloomsbury Artists from the early 20th century. (I've read everyone of these biographies!) Check out this page to see when all the special talks are scheduled.

I've been an admirer of the Bloomsbury Group for a long time. In 1999, I snuck in a trip to The Tate Gallery to see a show called the Art of Bloomsbury. I picked up this fabulous catalog there and love to browse through it whenever I need an art or color fix.

Several years ago, my friend Sally Lee and I snuck away for a 5 day trip to London. Sally and I have been friends for over twenty years. We met through my job at TYC and you may recognize her name as she used to design beautiful colorful sweaters that were frequently featured in our ads. While we were in London, we hopped a train to Sussex, visited Charleston, the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and also visited Monk's House, the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf. What a great trip we had - I'll always remember driving the skinny little one-track roads, staying in the B&B where we ate "spotted dick" (only in the UK), and anticipating our visit to Charleston. We had just bought our farmhouse and to say I was inspired by the Charleston Farmhouse would be correct!

If you want to find out more about Charleston Farmhouse, I suggest this book with photos by Alan MacWeeney. There are some fabulous photos of Charleston on his website here. And some lovely portraits of the descendants of the Bloomsbury Group here.

One of my favorite pieces of work by Vanessa Bell is this one of her sister Virgina knitting. I love that she painted her knitting, don't you?

You may also know that Kaffe Fassett's "Kaffe Knits Again" was photographed beautifully at Charleston House too. Check out that link and you can find thumbnails of Kaffe's beautiful work with the fabulous murals and textiles as backdrops.

I'm just one of the many admirers of "The Bloomsbury Group" of artists. I think what makes them so popular, almost a century later, is the their work focused a lot on the pleasures and simplicity of domestic life including jugs of flowers, kitchen scenes, windows, books, chairs, landscapes and simple portraits. I have always been drawn to their use of color and simple shapes. I love the fact that they took brush to their walls and painted with abandon. If you ever get a chance to visit Charleston in Sussex - go! It is worth the trip. And if you are local to Northampton, don't miss the show at Smith College.


Sara in WI said...

I love "spotted dog." (US version). Mom used to make it for every Christmas dinner. Once again you have peaked my interest about new books and artists...You keep me on my toes! Thanks!

Sarah said...

I'm going to try to get down and see it. Thanks for the heads-up!

Lynn said...

OK, that exhibit is on my calendar now - thanks!

Allabitrandom said...

Thank you for this post - I love your work and now I see a little of what has inspired you. I went to an exhibition of the Bloomsbury group last year at the Courtauld Institute in London. It is well worth a visit when you are this side of the pond next even though there is an admission fee and it is only a small collection (compared to the V&A!). The link is here and I think the video still works.http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/exhibitions/2009/omega/bloomsbury.shtml

Kate said...

I've been wanting to visit Charleston House for a while, and as soon as I can get across the pond I will! Massachusetts is a day's drive and I'm thrilled to have a shot at seeing this work. Thanks so much for the heads up! I also love your post about Olympia the lamb :)

Michele in Maine said...

I will try to see that show when I head out to Williamstown for my reunion in June. I have read all of Virginia Woolf (plus bios), but did not know about the art of the Bloomsbury group. Thanks for the info!

Susan R. said...

Goes on my list of spring trips to Mass. Thanks for the notice!