Spots, Dots and Dashes

by charlestonattic

Pattern design is central to the art of Bloomsbury. From the repeated motifs which can be seen at Charleston to the rugs and linens produced by the Omega Workshops experiments with repeated shapes and bold colours are a common theme in the legacy of the group. As we prepare to hand over the Angelica Garnett Gift into the safe hands of our new attic interns we wanted to share some of the beautiful designs that have been found in the Gift to date.


CHA/P/1658 Recto. Duncan Grant, painting, pattern design, pen and paint on paper. Photograph © The Charleston Trust

‘The Omega scorned the Edwardian taste for pastel shades and matching tones; it flung reds, greens, blues and purples across table tops and on to screens.’


CHA/P/1809 Recto. Duncan Grant, painting, two tile designs, pencil and watercolour on paper. Photograph © The Charleston Trust

most innovative craftsmen and women of the inter-war years sought qualities closely linked to developments in fine art. Touch, spontaneity and a freshness with materials (paramount qualities for Fry) became essential goals.’


CHA/P/1717 Recto. Duncan Grant, painting, bird pattern design, watercolours and coloured pencil on paper. Photograph © The Charleston Trust

By April 1913 Vanessa Bell had discovered the challenge of designing pattern repeats: ‘it’s rather fun painting after doing all these patterns. Duncan has been trying to do a pattern but gets even more muddled than I do, in fact I don’t think he’ll ever master repeats.’


CHA/P/1676 Recto. Duncan Grant, drawing, carpet design, coloured pencil and ink on paper. Photograph © The Charleston Trust


‘the printed linens are [?being] executed also a certain number of hand made rugs but I am anxious to get on to carpets…. My artists show a surprising aptitude for design of all kinds. They have a [?charming] invention and real taste… the great problem is how to boil down ideas into practical results.’ (Roger Fry to collector Michael Sadler)

‘… I do think we shall have to be careful, especially in England where it seems one can never get away from this fatal prettiness. Can’t we paint stuffs etc which won’t be gay and pretty?’  (Vanessa Bell to Roger Fry)


 Just as Charleston was transformed and evolved over the years with the artists decorating surfaces with patterns and designs so must the Angelica Garnett Gift. We wish the new interns the best of luck with their work and hope you enjoy reading about their discoveries and research.