Orlando at the present time

Our opening exhibition, ‘Orlando at the present time’, brings together contemporary artistic responses to Virginia Woolf’s landmark novel Orlando: A Biography, and marks 90 years since the novel’s original publication. Works by artists including Kaye Donachie, Paul Kindersley, Delaine Le Bas and Matt Smith appear alongside rarely seen letters, photographs and objects pertaining to the original publication of the novel.

The exhibition, taking place in Charleston’s new Wolfson Gallery, follows the narrative of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel, Orlando: A Biography. This novel tells the tale of an Elizabethan nobleman through a narrative which covers 400 years of history, exploring themes of gender, sexuality and identity. ‘Orlando at the present time’ examines the historical background to the novel, while considering its relevance and resonance in contemporary society, through an engaging display of historical and contemporary artworks, costumes, archival evidence and new commissions.

Delaine Le Bas (b. 1965) has been commissioned to respond to two photographs published in Orlando: A Biography. The first, ‘The Russian Princess as a Child’, is a portrait of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s daughter Angelica, taken in the 1928 at their house in the South of France. The second, ‘Orlando around the Year 1840’, shows Vita Sackville-West dressed in embroidered shawls and a large hat in a photograph by Vanessa Bell. Both images interested Le Bas for the way they borrowed from and manipulated other cultures.  Her Romany background informs much of her work, and Le Bas was struck by Woolf’s insightful descriptions of gypsy life and culture and Orlando’s responses to it. Her photographic response engages with notions of exoticism and cultural appropriation.

8 Sept 2018 – 6 Jan 2019 (extended to 17 Feb 2019)
Charleston Lewes