Tag Archives: Vanessa Bell

Escaping To Bath…..Bliss!

Bath Reflections, Rocking Dog

Bath Reflections

It was a day of escaping to Bath yesterday. I was keen to visit The Victoria Art Gallery to see “A Room of Their Own- Lost Bloomsbury Interiors 1914-30”

The exhibition recreates as far as possible several lost interior schemes by Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It reunites objects and paintings from both public and private collections, items which haven’t been seen together for fifty years.

I have loved all things Bloomsbury for three decades. It started in earnest when Laura Ashley launched their Bloomsbury collection of fabrics etc.. in 1987. The company had acquired the rights to a rare selection of Charleston House patterns. Grapes and Queen Mary are designs which stand out for me. In 2013 a range of the fabrics/wallpapers were relaunched in celebration of Laura Ashley’s 60th year. Since 1987 none of the houses we have lived in have been without Bloomsbury fabric somewhere in the mix.

In time I went to see Charleston, near Lewes and it is truly lovely. It is a real home with every surface painted and embellished by one or other of the inhabitants, or indeed guests just passing through.

The garden is equally beautiful and a book has just been published to celebrate its creative country charm.

The exhibition in Bath was bijoux but lovely. It has made me want to get my paintbrush out, and to pull out a stash of unused 1987 fabric. Watch this space! In a new house we once lived in, my brother in law kindly recreated the hermaphrodites which grace the studio at Charleston onto a bare wall. I’d love him to do a repeat performance!

After culture, I had a little bit of a mooch. I loved the reflections of the Georgian and not so Georgian buildings in the windows of Anthropologie. I stopped at The Whole Bagel for a.. bagel! Delicious, I couldn’t help but choose the filling I always select, Pear, brie, walnut and Parma ham.

I wandered down Walcot Street and it was alarming to witness the amount of empty shops. Rates are notoriously high in Bath. I bought ink and nib supplies at Meticulous Ink, such a lovely shop. Further on I headed to Owl in the Ivy, with its beautiful collection of old items to buy. However my heart was taken with the owners’ gorgeous Wire Haired Dachschund. Puppies are planned….,tempting, but I don’t think Real Live Rocking Dog would like a new puppy on his territory, he’s getting much too old and grumpy!

A reviving Americano and piece of Tunisian orange cake was enjoyed at an outside table at The Fine Cheese Company. It was great to watch the world go by, and to glance along to a building I love. The Corn Market building is so tall and narrow, it reaches to the sky with its elongated persona. However, that is not the whole story it extends behind a long, long way.

I loved taking time out in Bath, it was wonderful to get an aesthetic “fix”. I feel very inspired, but think the guilt of a mountainous ironing pile will make me abandon plans for Bloomsbury style painting for at least a little while.

Have a lovely weekend how ever you intend spending it. Love Rocking Dog x

Reaching To The Sky, Rocking Dog

Reaching To The Sky

Patriotic Door, Rocking Dog

Patriotic Door

How Much Is That Doggy?, Rocking Dog

How Much Is That Doggy?

Scrummy Bagel, Rocking Dog

Scrummy Bagel

Whole Bagel, Rocking Dog

Whole Bagel

Meticulous Ink Supplies, Rocking Dog

Meticulous Ink Supplies

Coffee & Cake, Rocking Dog

Coffee & Cake

Bloomsbury Style, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Style

Bloomsbury Grapes, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Grapes

Making Marvellous Marmalade!

Spectacular Seville's, Rocking Dog

Spectacular Seville’s

Seville oranges are in the shops! These particular oranges whose bitter characteristics are perfect for making marmalade come into shops in a blaze of glory in January and will have disappeared in a few short weeks.

I am following a different recipe this year, taken from The Bloomsbury Cookbook by Jans Ondantje Rolls. It’s one which is a bit of a three stage recipe and is quite useful because it allows me to seek out enough preserving sugar, jam pots and covers over a couple of days. The first stage is to slice the oranges, de-pip them, and leave them to soak in water for 24 hours. The second stage involves boiling up the orange slices until they are tender, and again leaving the oranges to sit for another 24 hour spell. Today is the day when the alchemy begins with further boiling, the addition of the sugar and then hoping and praying for a good set. I am thankful to my Home Economics teacher Miss Lawrence for teaching me the flake and wrinkle test to decipher when the hot marmalade can be decanted into spotlessly clean jars. My time spent in the dusting room at Filton High School wasn’t quite so enjoyable. Yes there really was a room where we girls learnt how to dust, lay a tray for an invalid, make a bed etc… The boys meanwhile were making 1970’s metal wall art etc..Grrrrrrrrr!

Today’s recipe is one that was used by Roger Fry. Fry was an English artist and art critic who belonged to the Bloomsbury Group. The Bloomsbury’s were an influential group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists. They were a loose collective of friends and relatives who lived, worked or studied together near Bloomsbury during the first half of the 20th Century. Virginia Woolf her sister Vanessa Bell together with Lytton Strachey and Duncan Grant all belonged to the group, along with a number of others. They were often despised for their tangled love lives, being conscientious objectors and for having the audacity to bring Post Impressionist Art to British shores. Fry obviously also liked making marmalade!

A good few years ago I went to visit Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s Sussex retreat, Charleston Farmhouse. I absolutely loved it, furniture, walls, doors, pots all painted and printed, tapestry’d and scrawled- visually eye popping. The garden too was inspirational, a cottage garden with mosaics, brick paths, gnarled apple trees, pots and beating sunshine. I did not want to leave.

It had always been a bit of a dream of mine to own a little piece of Bloomsbury art, something that had tangibly been scrutinised by Virginia Woolf or witnessed soirees, trysts and debates. A few years ago a piece purporting to be by Vanessa Bell came up on a certain online auction site. With the winning bid I have enjoyed my picture (on the back there’s a rather grey man in a loin cloth!) Unfortunately it now sports a rather nasty tear, Andyman managed to fall off a stepladder whilst putting up a curtain pole. Cracked head (the joy of flagstones) requiring stitching, torn artwork, an amazing lamp smashed and walls requiring painting it was quite an expensive and painful misadventure!

So today I will be busy in a somewhat steamy kitchen with my Bloomsbury marmalade, and thoughts of trying to revisit blissful Charleston hopefully sometime very soon.

Shall We Begin? Rocking Dog

Shall We Begin?

Precious Pectin, Rocking Dog

Precious Pectin

Torn Art, Rocking Dog

Torn Art