"It will be an odd life”, mused Vanessa Bell, “but...it ought to be a good one for painting." These words were written as Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf and doyenne of the Bloomsbury group, was preparing to move to Charleston Farmhouse, a stunning, isolated house in East Sussex that would become the country retreat for the extraordinary collection of artists, writers, thinkers and radicals that made up that most illustrious and controversial collective. Home to Bell and her lover Duncan Grant, visited by the likes of Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey, it was an intellectual and creative haven, where books were written, pictures painted, ideological concepts were forged and unconventional modes of living were embraced and enjoyed.
"The 30s heyday of the Bloomsbury Group was played out at Charleston, within whose elaborately coloured walls and sculpted gardens an ever-fluctuating collection of people came, worked, argued, experimented and had affairs"
First flowering in the 1920s, the 30s heyday of the Bloomsbury Group was played out at Charleston, within whose elaborately coloured walls and sculpted gardens an ever-fluctuating collection of people came, worked, argued, experimented and had affairs. Decorated by Bell and Grant in vivid murals, vibrant carpets, clashing prints and filled with thousands of books, it was a unique environment, with a spirit of convention-defying exuberance that has been preserved to this day. No longer a private home, the house has been turned into a trust and museum of the Bloomsbury set, a tribute to the extraordinary individuals who roamed its corridors and debated pacifism by its fireplaces. It is also the setting for a beautiful fashion story shot by Ben Toms and styled by Katie Shillingford for the A/W13 issue of AnOther Magazine. Starring Julia Nobis in glittering Marc Jacobs, shimmering Gucci and regal McQueen, it is a magical exploration of a unique monument in British literary history.
Here we present Toms’ mesmerising film of the day, set to a moody score by Lexxx, that captures Nobis as she moves through the house like a shimmering spectre from its Bloomsbury heyday.
Film – Ben Toms
Styling – Katie Shillingford
Photographic Director – Amy Gwatkin
Makeup – Petros Petrohilos
Hair – Martin Cullen
Model – Julia Nobis at Premier Model Management
Music – Lexxx
Editing – Tom Chick
Photographic Assistant – Rokas Darulis
Styling Assistants – Nell Kalonji, Isabelle Sayer
Casting – Noah Shelley at AM Casting
Location – Charleston, East Sussex