Bloomsbury Art & Design

Our special display Bloomsbury Art & Design opened last month. It brings together a wide-ranging selection of work by the remarkable Bloomsbury Group. We asked exhibition curator Dr Rosamund Garrett to tell us about curating the display. 

Bloomsbury Art & Design installation.

In November I was appointed the new Bridget Riley Art Foundation Curatorial Assistant at The Courtauld Gallery, a unique role that allows me to work across the entire collection. With Dr Barnaby Wright, the Daniel Katz Curator of Twentieth-Century Art, I was charged with curating our current Special Display: Bloomsbury Art & Design.

This display brings together the highlights of the Courtauld’s collection of paintings, design drawings, ceramics and furniture by the artists from the Bloomsbury Group to look at the movement that shaped early twentieth-century modernism in Britain. It was my first project after having been completely immersed in my doctoral research in a rather different field – Renaissance tapestry – so I was eager to take up the challenge.

Given my specialisation in tapestry, I was keen to display the large rug designed by Duncan Grant, with its bold colours and eye-catching geometric design. Rugs are usually displayed on the floor, but with several large pieces of furniture featuring in the display, floor space was at a premium.  To ensure the rug could be shown I asked our Head Conservator, Graeme Barraclough, if we could do things a bit differently.

Tapestries are often displayed on slant boards: a board at a slight angle that allows the tapestry to be viewed vertically whilst its weight is gently supported across the entire surface. I thought that Grant’s rug would look striking displayed vertically on one of the short walls, and would complement the series of abstract rug designs that we intended to display beside it.

We started drawing up the plans for the slant board, but, after a thorough examination by conservation, the rug was found to be too fragile to be displayed in this way. Graeme, however, is never deterred. He and our technician, Matthew Thompson, devised a new method of display that combined a slant board with a roller, allowing us to display a section of the rug vertically whilst the roller holds most of the weight. Exhibitions always rely on the expertise, creativity and skills of many individuals, not to mention their physical presence – lifting the roller with the heavy rug onto our adapted slant board was no mean feat!

We are fortunate at The Courtauld to have such an extensive collection of Bloomsbury objects, many of which were given to us directly by one of the leaders of the Group, the artist and art critic Roger Fry. Why not pop in to Bloomsbury Art & Design to see the rug on our new display method as well as other works by the group of artists whose radical and experimental art introduced bold colours and dynamic abstract designs to the domestic interiors of Edwardian Britain.

Book Now: Bloomsbury Art & Design
Until 21 September 2017

The Bloomsbury Boom

As our 20th century British rooms are re-hung and Life in Squares hits our screens the Bloomsbury Group seems to be on everyone’s lips!

Visit the Gallery to see Vanessa Bell’s A Conversation with its original frame, painted by the artist alongside works by Duncan Grant, Roger Fry and others.

Vanessa Bell - A Conversation
You may not know that The Courtauld also holds the largest collection of surviving working drawings of the Omega Workshops, bequeathed to the Gallery by Fry’s daughter Pamela Diamand in 1958.

Established in 1913 by Roger Fry, the Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective.

Omega

Well ahead of their time, the Omega Workshops brought the experimental language of avant-garde art to domestic design in Edwardian Britain. They were a laboratory of design ideas, creating a range of objects for the home, from rugs and linens to ceramics, furniture and clothing – all boldly coloured with dynamic abstract patterns. No artist was allowed to sign their work, and everything produced by the Workshops bore only the Greek letter Ω (Omega).

Inspired by their works our Gallery shop has developed a beautiful range of gifts both in-store and online.

From jewellery to scarves, prints to rugs and even award-winning wallpaper you can enjoy the striking bold prints of the Omega Workshops wherever you are.

Bloomsbury shop products

Visit our shop at:
Somerset House
Strand
London
WC2R 0RN

Or shop online: courtauldshop.com

 

BLOOMSBURY COMPETITION

We have a copy of The Bloomsbury Cookbook: Recipes for Life, Love and Art to give away, with two complimentary tickets to the Gallery.

This beautiful volume published by Thames and Hudson is packed full of illustrations, quotations and nearly 300 recipes.

The Bloomsbury Cookbook

In July 1913 the Omega Workshops opened to the public. To win, tell us –

What was the London address of the Omega Workshops?

Email your answer, full name and postal address to marketing@courtauld.ac.uk to enter!

Competition closes Thursday 20 August 2015, 10am.

Bloomsbury competition terms and conditions