Bloomsbury group Inspiration

posted in: Inspiration | 2

The Bloomsbury group were a group of artists, writers and philosophers based in Bloomsbury (WC1, not far from Euston station) in the early years of the last century. The names associated with the group include: Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Virginia Wolf, JM Keynes and others.

Contemporary photo of the Bloomsbury group
The Bloomsbury GroupI

I am not enamoured with their writings but the home established by Bell and Grant is the most wonderful place, Charleston House in East Sussex. Inspired by Italian fresco painting and the Post-Impressionists, the artists decorated the walls, doors and furniture. On display are many original and priceless art works, ceramics and textiles. I love the way that pattern, fabric, paintings and wall painting work together. In the Studio the browns of the wood, the sage green walls and doors, beige linen and the flesh of the numerous nudes work harmoniously together. It is an amazing place to visit if you are in the area.

The Studio at Charleston House, Sussex
The Studio at Charleston House

Apparently the mirror over the fire was broken by Vanessa’s little boys playing with a ball indoors, and Duncan Grant painted the wall inside the frame to replace it. Here the orange, white, bright green and grey colour scheme is both restful and pretty.

sitting room at Charleston Farmhouse
Sitting room

Also if you visit the house it is not far to visit the nearby church at Firle, where Bell and Grant also went to work creating modern frescos. Here is a picture of the baptismal font. I love the soft feminine, muted colours.

FIrle Church Baptismal font
FIrle Church Baptismal font

Bell and Grant also worked with Roger Fry as the Omega workshop, creating textiles for soft furnishing, rugs, screens and other interior decor. The workshop was also associated with the Hogarth Press with the aim of publishing and decorating their own books too. They wanted a brand that enabled people to buy items uninfluenced by the fact that the work was designed by a well known artist. The lovely geometric patterns, and the simplified floral patterns have, to me, timeless appeal. The use of colour which is often muted and softened means it is possible to mix many of the patterns together for a harmonious look. I find the work of these artists very inspirational and stimulating when thinking about creating textiles.


The Farmhouse has been used for many fashion photo shoots over the years, but here are just two that really appealed to me. Firstly menswear from The Guardian.

young male model at Charleston Farmhouse
Guardian Fashion

And more recently the Burberry collection for A/W 2014, based on the art of Bell and Grant, photographed for Harper’s Bazaar by Tom Allen. Doesn’t it look sensational in situ?

Harpers Bazaar
Harpers Bazaar


2 Responses

  1. Stephanie this, Kate. I agree re. the prints and their harmony (also with the décor). It’s funny, I have been in East Sussex many times because my mother’s husband’s family lives there, but I’ve never been to Charleston House. Will have to rectify that.

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