This autumn on 8, September, Charleston will launch its first exhibition space, as well as an events space and new restaurant.
The development’s inaugural exhibition ‘Orlando at the present time’ will present a contemporary response to Virginia Woolf’s renowned novel Orlando: A Biography.
Major Development Underway for Charleston, Home of the Bloomsbury Group
This 570m2 new development will enable Charleston to present year-round exhibitions for the first time. The exhibition space will be housed in a new building designed by Jamie Fobert Architects, while the events space and restaurant will be situated in two 18th‑century farm buildings, restored and redeveloped by Julian Harrap Architects. The building of the new exhibition space and the restoration of the barns have been made possible thanks to £2.44 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The Orlando exhibition will be accompanied by two additional displays, ‘Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases’ and the first museum showing of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s Famous Women Dinner Service.
The Sussex home of artists Vanessa Bell (1879–1961) and Duncan Grant (1885–1978), Charleston farmhouse is the only completely preserved Bloomsbury interior in the world and is considered one of the Bloomsbury group’s finest works of art. Since opening to the public in 1986, its delicate painted interiors and eclectic collection of furniture, textiles, books and ceramics have been enjoyed by over half a million visitors.
The scope of talent from novelist Virginia Woolf, biographer Lytton Strachey and economist John Maynard Keynes, will allow for exhibitions pertinent to a naturally broad range of themes, including gender and sexual politics, pacifism and internationalism, interior design and fashion.
The opening exhibition will bring together contemporary artistic responses to Virginia Woolf’s landmark novel Orlando: A Biography and will mark 90 years since its original publication. Orlando’s use of a protagonist who appears to change gender has made it an important reference point for gender and feminist theory. The text’s re-examination at Charleston this autumn will connect both with the Bloomsbury group’s queer history and the ever‑increasing importance of gender discussion. Works by artists including Kaye Donachie, Paul Kindersley, Delaine Le Bas and Matt Smith will be shown alongside rarely seen letters, photographs and objects pertaining to the original publication of the novel.