21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
21/09/2022
Reviews
Alfred Portman-Carroll
Exhibition Review: Very Private? at Charleston
Six contemporary artists respond to hitherto secret drawings returned to the Sussex home of the artist Duncan Grant (1885 - 1978).

This sordid exhibition at Charleston, East Sussex, has been curated around the secret dossier of erotic drawings bequeathed to the house after being passed from “lover to lover, friend to friend, for 60 years”. 

Charleston was the rural locus of the Bloomsbury Group, a bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals, which besides Duncan Grant also included Virginia Woolf and her sister the painter Vanessa Bell. Members of the group were wittily described by satirist Dorothy Parker as “living in squares, painting in circles and loving in triangles”. Grant moved to Charleston, with his lovers Vanessa Bell and David Garnett, to work on a nearby farm as a conscientious objector during the First World War. 

Untitled © Tim Walker Studio, Set design by Shona Heath

He was born six months before the Labouchère Amendment which criminalised homosexual acts between men. Grant would spend the next 82 years of his life living as a criminal. The effect of this amendment on the LGBTQ+ community was long-lasting: it was the law used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895 and chemically castrate Alan Turing in 1952. The law legitimised homophobia, rooting it in Britain’s collective conscience. 

Duncan Grant’s watercolours are dated to the 1940s/50s when homosexuality was still largely socially and legally outlawed. Attitudes towards homosexuality and the liberal lifestyle of the Bloomsbury Group tainted the reception of their work; today the group is undergoing a revival while public attitudes towards sexual expression broaden. 

Aside from their pornographic nature, the drawings would have also been scandalised for depicting interracial relations. Like the Victorian laws prohibiting homosexual acts, Victorian attitudes toward race persisted into the 20th century - particularly the erroneous theory of eugenics. 50s Britain was a hostile environment for those who were not white or straight. To Duncan Grant, the prospect of displaying these works publicly at the time would have been terrifying. Even today many artists drawing queer or sexually expressive artworks and forced to question where the line between private works and those for public display ought to be drawn?

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity ‘Very Private?’ at Charleston examines our perception of sexuality through the responses to Grant’s drawings by six contemporary artists: the painter Somaya Critchlow, artists Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon, photographers Tim Walker and Ajamu X, and sculptor Alison Wilding. 

Kadie Salmon, Melt in Waves (I), 2022. Hand painted photograph.

To celebrate the exhibition, Charleston have also partnered with artist and designer Gavin Houghton to create an exclusive limited edition series of ceramics inspired by Grant’s drawings. The boldness of adorning crockery with free-flowing drawings of men engaged in sexual acts is unapologetic. Although some of the imagery is still shocking, it should be celebrated as a triumph in queer representation. Queer intimacy which has for decades been legislated into private space is now unashamedly on public display.

The exhibition, though focussed on the artists’ responses to Grant’s drawings, brings into question Western society’s relationship with sex and our own responses to the pieces. The Greeks and Romans commonly used explicit motifs in decoration, particularly when decorating vessels. The Warren Cup (5 - 15 AD) has two of the earliest depictions of gay sex and was in fact brought from Rome to England in 1911 by Edward Warren, who lived just five miles from Charleston at Lewes. Imagery that seems extraordinary to us now would once have been commonplace on household objects, murals and mosaics in baths and private houses.

Charleston is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, the exhibition runs from the 17th of September 2022 to 12 March 2023. The opening weekend coincides with Queer Bloomsbury, a weekend of playful performances, parties, talks and immersive experiences showcasing queer culture and creativity. Over the weekend of the 17th of September there will be a free shuttle bus from Brighton and Lewes to Charleston.

Harold Offeh, Still from the Studio (2022)

Link to bus timetable: https://www.charleston.org.uk/queer-bloomsbury-bus-service/ 

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/very-private/ 

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
Thanks For Reading
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.