Charleston inspired the likes of Bell, Grant and Keynes to produce the works that made them famous. It has since inspired Annie Sloan to add three new limited edition colours to her palette.
Artist and colour expert Annie Sloan has launched three new paint colours inspired by Charleston, the country house in Sussex that once served as the rural base of the Bloomsbury group.
First produced in 1990, the company’s ‘Chalk Paint’ range has become famous among lazy — sorry, ‘time-strapped’ — decorators since they’re designed to go onto furniture with no sanding or priming. One need simply pop open a tin and crack right on.
The newest additions to the collection celebrate the joyful use of paint throughout Charleston – a house as colourful as the history of its famous residents. At the recommendation of Virginia Woolf, painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved to the house while the First World War was under way, together with Grant’s friend and lover David Garnett and Bell’s two sons, Julian and Quentin. They also took their dog, Henry.
Both conscientious objectors, Grant and Garnett were compelled to find ‘work of national importance’ on a farm or face prison for not contributing to the war effort. Charleston, simple and secluded, provided the perfect location for this, as well as allowing the trio to continue their artistic and unconventional lifestyle in relative peace. Charleston became the county outpost for both them and their colourful friends, who influenced the decor and demeanour of the house for the next 64 years.
Clive Bell regularly made the trip down from London, as did painter and critic Roger Fry, whose ministrations can be seen in the garden. John Maynard Keynes was so frequent a visitor that he warranted his own room, from which he wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919).
David Garnett described in his autobiography how ‘one after another the rooms were decorated and altered almost out of recognition, as the bodies of the saved are said to be glorified after the resurrection’.
Firle is a lively green echoing the colour of a wall in Clive Bell’s study, Rodmell is a deep damson taken from the walls of the studio and Tilton is a warm mustard, reflecting the golden hues of Vanessa Bell’s bedroom. Produced in collaboration with the Charleston Trust, the paints can be used on walls, floors, furniture and accessories.
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