Join us around the Coco Table in the Threshing Barn for civilised Sunday mornings of readings and lively discussion. Held on the first Sunday of every month, we will explore themes inspired by Charleston, the Bloomsbury Group, modernism, and our current exhibitions. These are informal and relaxed sessions, open to all, with no need to read anything in advance. Simply come along, settle down with your tea or coffee, and immerse yourself in literature, thoughts and ideas with like-minded people in an inspiring space. Led by our Reader in Residence Holly Dawson, following the success of the Sunday reading and discussion groups held during our Orlando season.
Sunday 7 April: Writing in Colour
Inspired by our exhibition, we will explore the deep connection between colour in art and colour in writing forged by the Bloomsbury group and the modernists. We will begin by listening to the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf as she makes the link between Shakespeare, words and colour. Our morning will take us from Woolf’s very conscious crafting of painterly writing in her novels to the influence of ‘literary Cubism’ in the poems of TS Eliot. We will pull out sections from letters and diaries covering the Group’s discussions about colour and touch on areas of colour psychology, including Goethe’s Theory of Colours. Finally, we will see how the Group advanced the practice of ‘ekphrasis’ – writing inspired by, or borrowing from, art.
Sunday 5 May: Charleston Festival Showcase
Join us to read excerpts from some of the lesser known books and writers appearing at this year’s Festival. A brilliant way to get to know new work and new authors and see which events you might like to come along to. The session will introduce you to Andrea Lawlor’s take on Woolf’s Orlando, Paul takes the form of a mortal girl, various extracts from the New Daughters of Africa anthology, a true tale of surrealist lovers by Rupert Thomson and Melissa Harrison’s celebrated novel exploring the dark politics of greenwashing.
Sunday 9 June: Dalloway Day
Join us in the month the book was set to celebrate all things Dalloway – an exploration of the themes and ideas in Woolf’s seminal novel, Mrs Dalloway, supported by insightful extracts from her letters and diaries of the time. We will also look at modern incarnations inspired by Mrs Dalloway, including acclaimed film The Hours and the resulting Hermione Lee essay ‘Virginia Woolf’s Nose’.
Sunday 7 July: Land and Gardens
July brings Charleston’s glorious Festival of the Garden, a perfect accompaniment to our Land exhibition of paintings inspired by the local landscape so integral to the Bloomsbury group. We will look at the importance of nature in their lives and works, with extracts from Virginia and Vita’s work, as well as Dora Carrington’s letters and diaries, and the words of Maynard Keynes and Lydia Lopokova (who lived just over the field from Charleston).
Sunday 4 August: To The Sea
The seas of the south coast and Cornwall played an important role in Virginia’s work, largely drawing on time spend in St Ives with Vanessa and their family as children. This session will focus primarily on To The Lighthouse, inspired in part by Philip Hughes’ St Ives paintings in our current exhibition, before extending to look at other modernist writers from Proust to Joyce (with his memorable description of ‘The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea’).