Charleston, the historic East Sussex country home of the famed bohemian Bloomsbury group of writers, artists, and intellectuals who were known for their unconventional lifestyles, has long been a source of inspiration for Annie Sloan, the artist and founder of the pioneering chalk paint for furniture. Sloan, along with Dr. Darren Clarke, the head of exhibitions, collections, and research at Charleston, will be leading a virtual tour on Thursday, October 1, through the rooms and gardens where Duncan Grant, Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, and Lytton Strachey, among others, lived and worked.
Charleston receives no public funding and operates solely based on revenue from events such as these and has struggled during this year's pandemic. This virtual tour, which will include a question-and-answer session at the end, will benefit Charleston's Emergency Appeal Fund. For access to the tour, tickets are available at several price points to ensure that everyone who wishes to support can join.
The Bloomsbury group, which was crucial in pushing the decorative arts forward in Great Britain, was known for their revolutionary ideas about life, love, and art, and Charleston is a direct reflection of this ethos.
The farmhouse, which Vanessa Bell described in a letter to Roger Fry as '...lovely, very solid & simple, with flat walls in that lovely mixture of brick & flint that they use about here, & perfectly flat windows in the walls & wonderful tiled roofs,' was badly run down when Bell, her children, Duncan Grant (Bell's lover), and David Garnett (Grant's lover) moved to the home. Bell and Grant immediately set about choosing their studios and painting the walls and furniture of the house in the style of their art, for which it is now famed. The design and decor of Charleston has inspired countless artists and designers who have followed them and continue to do so today.
Charleston was a haven for the Bloomsbury group for over 60 years, but as the members of the set started to pass, the house fell into decline. In 1980, a trust was formed to save this historic and important property, which now hosts visitors and events similar to an annual literary festival when there is not a pandemic.
Because the house is now closed to visitors and in-person events are not possible, this virtual tour event is the best way to support this famed farmhouse where boundary-pushing ideals were more than welcomed.
The event will take place online on October 1 at 2 p.m. EST. Purchase tickets here.
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