Sunday, 5 July 2009

eyes on virginia at the national portrait gallery

Virginia-woolf-1902
NPG for lunch yesterday, and fittingly my menu had a portrait of Virginia Woolf on it. Why? The National Portrait Gallery's restaurant balcony looks out towards Trafalgar Square which, as the many rainbow flags attested, was the destination for London Pride 's march and party yesterday.

vannessa-bells-book-cover-virgina-woolf-a-room-of-ones-ownSo why? The exhibition downstairs included Virginia amongst its selection. A different picture and not one that I'd seen before. Staring into the camera whilst smoking a cigar. Defiantly Bloomsbury rules, I would say.

I found myself looking long at the brown eyes of this iconic independent feminist writer. "A room of one's own" is probably her most well known publication and was self published in 1929, with the cover art drawn by her artist sister Vanessa Bell.

I remember first picking up on Woolf when still at school; the stream of consciousness writing of someone with more history than she would admit. Child abused, promiscuous marriage to Leonard Woolf, co creator of the Hogarth Press, long relationship with Ms Vita Sackville-West, depressive and finally suicidal, filling her raincoat with large stones before entering the River Ouse.

Those eyes.
virginia woolf from NPG (PS'd)

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