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Charleston opens a new gallery with this exhibition bringing together contemporary artistic responses to Virginia Woolf’s landmark novel Orlando: A Biography.

The exhibition in the new Wolfson Gallery follows the narrative of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel, Orlando: A Biography, marking 90 years since its publication.

The novel tells the tale of an Elizabethan nobleman through a narrative which covers 400 years of history, exploring themes of gender, sexuality and identity.

This exhibition examines the historical background to the novel, while considering its relevance and resonance in contemporary society, through an engaging display of historical and contemporary works, archival evidence and new commissions. Works by artists including Kaye Donachie, Paul Kindersley, Delaine Le Bas and Matt Smith will be shown – alongside rarely seen letters, photographs and objects pertaining to the original publication of the novel.

The exhibition also includes original costumes designed by Sandy Powell, which were worn by Tilda Swinton in the 1992 film, Orlando, while 100 studio photographs of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf’s’ family demonstrate the stiff conventions and buttoned up oppressions of the Victorian period that both Orlando and Bloomsbury fought against.

Also on public display, for the first time in 30 years, are 14 plates decorated by Vanessa Bell, telling the story of Orlando: A Biography, a commission from Lord Eccles in the 1930s.


The Charleston Trust, Near Firle, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 6LL

01323 811 626


Opening times

Wed to Sun and Bank Holiday Mondays. Please see website for further details.

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