Lampshade painting at Charleston

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I went to Charleston, the home of the Bloomsbury Group, to do a lampshade painting workshop with Cressida Bell who is the talented artist granddaughter of the artist Vanessa Bell and daughter of Quentin Bell.  I wonder if you are as  passionate about the Bloomsbury Group as I am? I devour books about them and have often visited Charleston, Berwick, Firle and Monk's House.

In 1916, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant along with their unconventional household moved to Charleston which they rented. They transformed the farmhouse with colour and the most exquisite decoration. It is truly a decorative masterpiece and the garden is a real artists’ garden.  

For the workshop used Cressida's own lampshade designs which she had printed on to card. I loved all the designs but finally settled on her gorgeous tulip design. We had to choose our own colour combinations and we could mix the paint to create our own colours.  That in itself created a dilemma as I couldn't decide what colours to do.  I lost valuable time testing different colour combinations instead of cracking on with the job in hand!!  It might sound easy but actually I found it difficult initially as I have never painted anything so delicate and with such a tiny brush.  Then I got into a rhythm until I started to run out of time when my hand became unsteady and a bit clumsy. But it was so rewarding and I would happily do the workshop again. One of the highlights was being able to ask Cressida about her memories of Charleston and the various members of her family.  Here is Cressida with her lampshades that  she had previously painted. 

My friend Jackie and me with ours and mine on a lampbase in all its glory !!!

Here are the lampshades of the other ladies in the workshop which are quite impressive!

The garden at Charleston is enclosed by a brick and flint wall. Along one wall there are a series of busts among the creepers and climbing roses.

Despite being autumn there was still a lot of colour in the garden. 

No visit to Charleston is complete without a visit to nearby Berwick where Vanessa, Duncan and Quentin painted exquisite murals in the village church.  The views from the church across the Downs are spectacular.

We had lunch at the pub in Berwick and then drove to Monk's House in the village of Rodmell which is the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.  I love Monk's House with its small but perfectly formed garden, old orchard and the views across the water meadow to the river Ouze in which tragically Virginia took her own life by filling her pockets with stones. The garden borders the village church which is the backdrop to most parts of the garden.  The house was beautifully decorated by Vanessa and Duncan.  I particularly love the green colour on the walls in the sitting room.  Virginia's bedroom with its dual aspect on to the garden is a lovely room and its not hard to imagine her in the room. The sadness in this house is ever present. 

No blog post about a garden I've visited is complete without some closeups of the flowers. The dahlias were particularly beautiful.  In case you are interested, I used my Nikon D5500 camera for all of my photos in this blog post. 

That was a bit of a whistle stop tour but hopefully it gives you a flavour of these places where the Bloomsbury Group lived and worked. If you have never visited them, I do hope you have the chance one day to do so. 

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