The Miniature World of the Angelica Garnett Gift
Where do you keep your past? The pasts of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell are stored in blue and grey boxes, kept in the attic at Charleston Farmhouse. To work with this archive on a daily basis is to step back in time into a lost universe of Bloomsbury painters, to walk away from 2015 and into the early 20th century. In effect it is easy to conceptualise the Angelica Garnett Gift archive in its entirety as a miniature world in which the lives of the Bloomsbury group are played out, a paper universe captured within the four walls of stacked cardboard boxes.
What is it about this miniature world that is so enchanting? Small worlds beguile us because of the strange charm of microcosms, evoking associations of secrets, hidden treasures, love letters, riddles and childhood – all things magical. It is in such details that the collections that make up this particular archive are so enduringly fascinating. Below are some of the works we have been cataloguing this week in the attic.