The intellectual centre of Charleston is the circular dining room table; a place where Roger Fry, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, T. S. Elliot, E. M. Forster, Benjamin Britten and many others joined Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant to eat, talk, drink, argue and listen. We know from letters and diaries that they talked about every subject from literature, theatre and art, to politics, economics and war, as well as the many facets of life and society between.
Charleston today is a place where these conversations continue through exhibitions, talks, festivals and learning programmes. This new dining room table represents the continuing tradition of Charleston as a public place for thinking, discussing, making, writing and working. It is a table at which visitors can enjoy a book and a coffee; a table where you can hold meetings, book groups, craft workshops; a table at which you can work and create.
In 2015, the London-based artist Coco Crampton created three oversized ceramic lampshades, directly inspired by Quentin Bell’s lampshades at Charleston, for the exhibition Kingly Things at Chandelier Projects in London. These works, called The Truth About Cottages, are installed above Horse Rub, a new table designed and made for the Charleston Barns by Crampton.
Coco Crampton’s work borrows, hi-jacks and re-interprets forms of twentieth century art, design and architecture. Working across a variety of materials these new forms question the ideological and practical purpose of modernist designs, through the creation of playful landscapes, reimaginings of dwelling spaces or places of social encounter. Crampton graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2014. Her work has been exhibited in solo shows in Turin, Colchester and Norwich as well as group exhibitions including at Nottingham Contemporary, Wysing Arts Centre, Norwich Castle Museum.