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Rural Modernity in BritainA Critical Intervention$
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Kristin Bluemel and Michael McCluskey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474420952

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420952.001.0001

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Eden in Sussex: Atheist Moderns and the Berwick Church Murals

Eden in Sussex: Atheist Moderns and the Berwick Church Murals

(p.239) Chapter 14 Eden in Sussex: Atheist Moderns and the Berwick Church Murals
Rural Modernity in Britain

Hana Leaper

Polly Mills

Edinburgh University Press

After war broke out in 1939, Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant accepted a commission from Dr. George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, to design murals for Berwick church. This chapter discusses the realisation of these unique works within a framework of Bell and Grant’s Charleston House location, their pacifism and atheism, their adoption of rural life and decoration of Charleston. A major theme is exploration of the relationship between dissenting voices in the local Sussex community and the support from the church and artistic establishments that overrode these concerns. Hana Leaper and Polly Mills explore why this project was so high on the nation’s wartime cultural agenda. Rather than dismissing Bell’s and Grant’s work in Sussex as irrelevant to twentieth-century culture, their chapter demonstrates that Bell and Grant’s move to the countryside and privileging of the domestic, local, and everyday made them pivotal to a thriving rural modernist culture.

Keywords:   Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Bloomsbury, Berwick church, Modernism, Charleston House, Sussex, Pacifism, Atheism

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