‘Designs’ on the Bloomsbury Group


The new major summer exhibition at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Victoria Art Gallery will recreate some of the famous Bloomsbury Group’s interior designs.

The exhibition, A Room of Their Own: Lost Bloomsbury Interiors, will run from 11 June to 4 September featuring works by Bloomsbury Group artists Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

Duncan Grant, Design for Omega fan, watercolour Private Collection.

The artists not only produced paintings and fine art but also designed and decorated ceramics, furniture, fabrics and rugs. Their artistic venture in the decorative arts and interior decoration began in 1913 with the formation of the Omega Workshops (1913-1916) and continued until the Second World War.

Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This remarkable exhibition will give visitors the chance to see several of the Bloomsbury Group’s unique interiors recreated for the first time. It has been more than 50 years since many of these works have been displayed together and the Victoria Art Gallery is once again providing a unique experience for visitors.”

Between the First and Second World Wars people queued to have their homes embellished in the Bloomsbury style. There were studio sales of painted trays and decorated ceramics and Heals department store hosted regular exhibitions of their decorative work. Sadly, much was destroyed by accident or by bombing during the Second World War. The only major Bloomsbury Group decorative schemes to survive are at Charleston in East Sussex.

Roger Fry and Omega Workshop, Giraffe cabinet, wood 1916-16 (Manchester Art Gallery)

This exhibition will reunite objects and paintings from private and public collections that have not been seen together for over 50 years. It celebrates Fry’s, Bell’s and Grant’s passionate approach to art and craft, regarding the various disciplines as being of equal status to painting.

In addition to work by Fry, Bell and Grant, the show will feature work by figures such as Dora Carrington, Nina Hamnett, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Edward Wolfe, and will recreate, as far as possible, some of the interiors they worked on in the first half of the 20th century.

Important paintings, pieces of furniture and decorations will be on loan to the exhibition from a range of lenders including the National Portrait Gallery, the Courtauld Gallery, London, Manchester City Galleries, Southampton City Art Gallery and the Charleston Trust. 

During the exhibition there will be talks and lunchtime exhibition tours held on Thursdays from 12.30-1.00pm, free to local Discovery Card and ticket holders.

Any Bath and North East Somerset residents who do not have a Discovery Card can apply for one by visiting http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/tourism-and-heritage/discovery-card and downloading a form.