Two Tem­ple Place, Lon­don WC2, to 23rd April

The Oldie - - ARTS -

One of the prin­ci­pal func­tions of Two Tem­ple Place, a fine Vic­to­rian Gothic town­house on the Em­bank­ment that was orig­i­nally the As­tor es­tate of­fice and is now owned by the char­i­ta­ble Bull­dog Trust, is to pro­vide a Lon­don shop win­dow for out-of-town pub­licly owned col­lec­tions. This lat­est show is an ad­mirable demon­stra­tion of the idea’s value, as the ex­hibits are drawn not just from one mu­seum, but from nine cul­tural cen­tres across both East and West Sus­sex.

When it was first pro­posed, there must have been a ‘Why has no one done this be­fore?’ mo­ment as it be­came ob­vi­ous how much the Blooms­ber­ries’ Charleston, Ed­ward James’s West Dean, Pen­rose’s Far­ley and Eric Gill’s Ditch­ling had in com­mon, and what could be added from the De La Warr Pav­il­ion, the Jer­wood, Pal­lant House and the Brighton and Towner gal­leries. Sus­sex be­gan to at­tract ‘mod­ernists’ to­wards the end of the 19th cen­tury, as the rail­ways made part-time coun­try life more prac­ti­cal for Lon­don­ers. Burne-jones and Ki­pling were among the first, fol­lowed by many writ­ers as well as artists. How­ever, the 20th-cen­tury im­mi­gra­tion was on a greater scale, and the mod­ernists who set­tled at­tracted oth­ers as vis­i­tors.

De­spite the um­brella, how­ever, this show can­not hope to be fully co­her­ent, since ‘modernism’ cov­ers so many dif­fer­ent groups, styles and in­deed ideas. It is well worth vis­it­ing and pon­der­ing, though. Two Tem­ple Place is do­ing Sus­sex proud – Floreat As­to­ria!

Fur­ther­more, Tem­ple Place is only open to the pub­lic dur­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, and is it­self a treat.

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