6.10.08

Farley Farm


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Originally uploaded by fred pipes
You lazy blogger, I hear you cry! It's not as though I've had nothing to blog, you understand. Truth is, I haven't had much work to avoid, but now I have. So, we're back! On Saturday, I had a motor car journey out to Chiddingly, to visit Farley Farm, the home to Lee Miller and Roland Penrose. The Clarion visited Chiddingly last Sunday on a bike ride from Berwick, to coincide with their Festival, which included Morris dancers, belly dancers (not dancing together, unfortunately), apples and beer! One feature of the festival was that there were cut-price tours of the farm for three weekends. Tessa suggested we go this past weekend. Unfortunately, she was too poorly to go, so I piled into Mark and Anna's car with my neighbour Marion Charles.

Just turn up, said the flyer, so we did. Waiting for the next tour at 2.30, we looked at the mini-print exhibition in the barn, but it was too wet to consider the garden. No photos were allowed to be taken inside, and the two delightful guides kept their beedy eyes on us! I love places full of stuff! There were paintings everywhere, Picasso plates and tiles in the kitchen, a Man Ray collage in the hall, African carvings and curiosities all over the place, and of course Lee's photos and Roland's paintings everywhere. In a big room was a case full of Lee's wartime souvenirs, including two sets of knuckle-dusters and Hitler's stationery. (Apparently the farm is a magnet for Neo-Nazis, according to her grand-daughter Ami in the gift shop.) In case you don't know who Lee Miller was: she was a Vogue model and the Kotex Girl, then went to Paris and met Man Ray and took up photography, was a war correspondent (for Vogue!), and ended up with Roland in a Sussex farmhouse, being visited by Saul Steinberg, Picasso and Man Ray, amongst many other esteemed Surrealists. Her photos can be seen here. If any 'Johnny Foreigners' arrived at Lewes station looking lost, the taxi drivers would take them to Farley! The house has a feel of Charleston about it and Roland went up a few points in my estimation - I'd always considered him a bit of a toff dilettante like the Bloomsbury lot. Go see it if you can - the big 25 quid tours are booked up for the rest of the year, but the downstairs festival taster tours are well worth it. Afterwards we had tea at Silletts Cottage tea rooms in Selmeston!

Saturday night was the debut of the Twilight Club in the Argus Basement. Organised by David Bramwell (of Catalyst Club fame) and Rachel Blackman, it involved parlour games on a medical theme and a show in the pit by Foz's Sawchestra. There's a video of some of it on Vimeo. I was a bit unsure of the geography of the place so missed the first sitting, but they sell proper beer (in bottles) and the performance was worth waiting for. Reminded me of those happenings at All Saint's, Powis Square in the late 1960s, but much more entertaining! This is a welcome addition to the Brighton scene, for the older and more discerning punter.
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