Monday, 14 September 2009

Charleston, Bloomsbury in Sussex. Part 2








I do apologise for the long wait for part 2, no excuses really, just too busy some of the time, too lazy the rest! Here are some photos of the inside of the farmhouse, they are taken from postcards I purchased, as photography was forbidden inside, so I am afraid they are bog-standard pictures, you can probably find more via Google.

The outside of the farmhouse and knowledge of roughly what it would look like inside from books and the internet didn't prepare me for what it was really like, and how stimulating it all was on many different levels, emotional, intellectual, creative to name but 3. It is hard to explain in words, but the whole house was imbued with an incredible atmosphere of calm and harmony, brimming with quietly unassuming creativity. Decoration and creative enterprises filled the house, but didn't over-whelm it, more it seemed that it all bonded and blended perfectly with the bricks and mortar, the garden and grounds, a house filled with infinite possibilities, yet incredibly easy on the eye. A decorative scheme that evolved over many years with many different contributors. What struck me most forcefully was that this was a completely 'lived in' house. It wasn't decorated as a show piece, or status symbol, it simply evolved as the people who lived and stayed there left their creative marks in some humble domestic way, be it a textile or ceramic here, or a painted fruit crate or piece of furniture there.

It could have felt like a museum, we could have felt a sense of enormous awe as we strolled through these amazing rooms, and of course, I was very awed, but the over-riding sense that came across was that I, or any of us could make our living spaces as harmonious, stimulating and relaxing if we chose to go against the cultural norm, and expressed our tastes, ideas and philosophies through simplicity and humble creativity rather than shopping, technological advances and fashions etc. It wasn't just the marvellous collection of artworks and painted decoration that created the overall ambience, but also the hotch-potch of weird and wonderful items of furniture, and fixtures, from an early 18th century chaise longue to a 1950s dining table. The group of people who lived and stayed at Charleston have left their mark on the Farmhouse, as well as on our wider culture as a whole... Thank goodness! I wonder where we would all be now if it wasn't for the radical simplicity of these early 20th century 'hippies'.

The last picture is a lectern painted by Duncan Grant as part of his over-all scheme for the interior of a Church about 5 miles away from Charleston. My next post will be about this amazing place.


15 comments:

  1. I've been 'meaning' to visit Charleston for yonks. But in recent years I had been thinking maybe it was all a bit trumped up and just a couple of vaguely interesting rooms decorated by some extremely self-interested and variously talented people. I sort of still do really, even though I own a precious remnant of fabric by Roger Fry. But my interest is now revitalised by your report. I must go, and go soon!

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  2. I am sure you will enjoy it when you go. I really enjoyed the honest simplcity of the place. Fridays has a special 'textile tour', see website, it wasn't available on my visit, I will take it next time I visit. I am very envious of your Roger Fry textile, perhaps one day I will track a fragment down for myself! xx

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  3. Lois, I think you absolutely grasped the totality of this incredible place. I have not been there, have only experienced it through books and photos, but it was my hope, always, that if I entered the home, this would have been the feeling and mood of the place. I think there is so much to glean from this magical place. We are all so bent, it would seem, on formulas of decorating or buying items that don't express much originality or creative spirit. Reading your interpretation of their artistic expressions and lifestyle confirmed my idea of the magic that I assumed was always present in their lives. So many of the members of Bloomsbury, instilled this pattern of thinking and freedom of expression. I think it is one of the more exciting periods of history in Modernism. Thank you England for this gift and thank you, Lois for your sensitive and accurate commentary on this wonderful subject.

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  4. I forgot to mention, I love the lectern that Duncan painted! It is so beautiful. I will eagerly anticipate the sharing of this place too. I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to visit vicariously through you!

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  5. I am so glad you are enjoying this, it has been a pleasure sharing a little of the magic. Thank you for reminding me of Charleston, it was your earlier post that inspired me to take a look! I shall enjoy sharing more in my next post, it will be a few days, once I have reluctantly settled into my new solitary lifestyle... xx

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  6. I hope you are doing alright with your adjustment. It does take some time. I am glad you have a kitty to keep you company too!

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  7. Its going OK. Thank goodness for Chya the cat. I will be back blogging regularly again soon! Thank you so much for your support, much appreciated... xxx

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  8. soooooo beautiful-thank you for sharing this magical place.

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  9. I just came back over to get my fill of Charleston again. Such a lovely place to visit. Someday I intend to get there. Hope you are well. You have been in my thoughts.

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  10. Hi, your blog is a true inspiration. I found it while looking for information on the Bloomsbury group. And I’m so glad i did. I wrote a post on the Bloomsbury yesterday and I hope you don't mind but I used some of your pictures of the postcards from the house to illustrate the fantastic way the Charleston home looks like. Pls let me know if you object to it and I will remove them right away.

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