Reviewer: Steve Turner
Nestling in the East Sussex countryside, Farley Farm House showcases the work and lives of its two most famous owners Roland Penrose and Lee Miller. Penrose, co-founder of the ICA and champion of the surrealists, and Miller the Vogue model turned photographer, bought the farm house in 1949 as a weekend retreat and would regularly entertain the foremost artists of the time. Picasso visited here in 1950, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Man Ray and many others would all spend time here and the many artworks on display reflect the importance of Penrose and Miller in the development of modern art.
The house itself has been left as untouched as possible leading you to really get a good sense of the two, this is very much enhanced by the excellent guide who imparted her considerable knowledge with ease and charm. From the kitchen complete with Picasso lithographs and tile set into the wall, via the dining room with its stunning inglenook, through to the study the whole house is full of artworks either by Penrose and Miller or collected by them over the years. The house serves as a living document of the birth of modern art in Britain, and this is continued in the garden where there are many sculptures to be admired.
As the works from the house are constantly being loaned out to collections and exhibitions there is a freshness to the displays. This theme is continued in the barn which houses different exhibitions of works by Penrose and Miller as well as works by other artists. The garden is currently showing sculptures from students at a local college.
This is a wonderful place to visit, especially for those with an interest in modern art, but it is primarily the human story which you see unfolding around you that makes the most impact.
Open on Sundays until October 2013