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Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love & Legacy at York Art Gallery

Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love and Legacy is an exhibition of portraits of and by the Bloomsbury Group and their wider circle from the National Portrait Gallery collection. It is co-curated by York Art Gallery and Sheffield Museums Trust and includes artworks from our own collections, as well as a select number of other important regional loans.

Who were the Bloomsbury Group?

In 1905, a group of artists, writers and intellectuals began to meet weekly at 46 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury, London. This was the home of the Stephen siblings, including the painter Vanessa Bell and the writer Virginia Woolf. They were joined by other important figures such as the critic Roger Fry and artist Duncan Grant. 

They shared ideas, debated, and discussed their own work. They met for the next 30 years and became known collectively as the Bloomsbury Group. Perhaps more so than their academic achievements, the Bloomsbury Group are known today for their unconventional relationships, which are now celebrated as part of British LGBTQAI+ history

York Art Gallery Beyond Bloomsbury2

Angelica Garnett by Sir Matthew Smith circa 1957 the Estate of Sir Matthew Bracy Smith

Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford, 1902 © National Portrait Gallery, London

What can I see?

You will move through three parts of the exhibition. The first, introduces the figures associated with the Bloomsbury Group, highlighting the importance of personal relationships, conversation and the privilege of time and space in which to pursue creative practice.

In the second part, the exhibition centers on the Omega Workshops, an enterprise established by Roger Fry in 1913 that sold furniture, fabrics and homeware designed by leading artists of the day, emphasising Bloomsbury’s engagement in the Decorative Arts.

The concluding section of the show focuses on activism and philanthropy, identifying causes of particular importance to individual members, but also recognising how such beliefs and actions shaped the mentality of the Group as a whole. The Bloomsbury Group were involved in establishing the Contemporary Art Society.

There will be new works by the artist Sahara Longe specially commissioned by York Museums Trust and Sheffield Museums to respond to the exhibition and the work of Bloomsbury artists.

Included in the exhibition is the exclusive premiere of Bloomsbury-inspired murals designed by graphic artist Lydia Caprani. Caprani also worked collaboratively with York LGBT Forum and Kyra Women's Group to create decorative pieces that feature in the exhibition.

John Maynard Keynes Baron Keynes by Gwen Raverat circa 1908 National Portrait Gallery London Blog

[John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes by Gwen Raverat, circa 1908 © National Portrait Gallery, London]

How do I book tickets?

York Art Gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11am-4pm. Book here.

Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love and Legacy opens at York Art Gallery on 4 March 2022.

Promotional blog written by York Museums Trust

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