Friday, October 5, 2012

Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex

Here is a detail of what I am working on at the moment - Charleston Farmhouse, East Sussex, a beautiful rambling building set like a jewel in a lush blowsy garden which was the rural retreat of the Bloomsbury Group, the home of painters Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) and Duncan Grant from 1916.

"It's most lovely, very solid and simple," wrote Vanessa, "with perfectly flat  and tiled roofs. The pond is most beautiful, with a willow at one side and a stone or flint wall edging it all round the garden part, and a little lawn sloping down to it, with formal bushes..."
Vanessa died in 1961. Duncan Grant lived on, the building deteriorating around him. In 1980 the Charleston Trust was set up to save and restore the house and garden and open it to the public. It is now a place of pilgrimage for Bloomsbury aficionados.

There are plenty of pictures all over the place of the amazing painted interiors - just google "Charleston Farmhouse" and enjoy. However, there are some wonderful photos of Charleston in its less well-documented dilapidated early state on Flickr which makes you appreciate the amount of work that was needed to bring the place to life again.
This one's taking time to do. It seems ages since my first ideas sketch:

Then came this:
As you see, the black swan (an echo of Carrington's one in her wonderful portrait of Tidmarsh Mill) is still hanging on in there!

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