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DOMESTIC INSPIRATION Both Bell and Grant took inspiration from everything from food preparation in the kitchen, to portraits of the household cat, Opussyquinusque.

Even the oak-panelled walls and furniture of the building became playful canvasses for expression, resulting in a carnival of beautifully-patterned surfaces, murals and motifs throughout the house.

Fabrics and ceramics designed by Bell for the Omega Workshops, principally started by Roger Fry in July 1913, adorned the interiors.

WORLD AT WAR However, in 1916, war was raging in Europe and any idyll was shattered by the call-up for men under 40 to enlist. It was a political climate entirely at odds with the group’s anti-war and pacifistic stance – many were conscientious objectors – and in order to avoid the draft, Bell secured work on a local farm for both her

Above Duncan Grant’s studio at Charleston. Photo Lee Robbins

Right Duncan Grant (1885-1978) The Hammock, Charleston c. 1921-1922

‘The boundless limits of Charleston quickly turned the somewhat stolid and square farmhouse into a hub of unfettered creativity and setting for alternative ways of living’

husband and Grant. As a reserved occupation, it avoided the chance of enlistment or possible imprisonment. Charleston continued to provide the perfect surroundings to redefine the era’s artistic boundaries while exploring the European modernist movement.

Bell and Grant embraced elements of the contemporary avant garde including cubism and abstract art, producing work that reduced form into geometric shapes, often outlined with black lines. Landscapes became more brutalist and sharply angular, with bold colours.

As the century progressed with travel restricted, amid two world wars, Charleston’s inhabitants and visitors turned to local scenes, such as Bell’s The Barn at Charleston, Winter (c.1940-1941) and Grant’s The Pond in Winter at Charleston (c. 1943).


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