A rare collection of secret erotic drawings by Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant go on display at the artist’s former creative home.
The intimate, playful drawings were only recently discovered and brought to Charleston, long thought to be lost for good. Grant passed the drawings to his friend Edward le Bas in 1959 in a folder marked ‘these drawings are very private’, inspiring the title of the exhibition – they were then passed down from friend to friend, lover to lover, kept secret but beautifully preserved for many years.
The drawings explore the themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity, mainly depicting male lovers. They were produced during the 1940s and 50s, a time when sex between men was still illegal in England and the persecution of queer bodies and culture was rife. They also reveal the playful and erotic sides to Grant’s personality, plus the inspiration he took from Greco-Roman traditions and contemporary physique magazines.
40 drawings will be displayed alongside responses by contemporary artists such as photographer Tim Walker, who photographed Charleston for Italian Vogue in 2016; Somaya Critchlow, who is producing a suite of drawings and watercolours featuring the female nude; and Harold Offeh, who will create a new video work and series of community workshops. The two elements of the exhibition create a dialogue between the present and the past, encouraging ongoing debate around sexuality and championing the creative spirit of Grant and the Bloomsbury group.