Omega Workshops

Omega Workshops 33 Fitzroy Square London Omega Workshops signboard painted by Duncan Grant

The Omega Workshops, set up by the art critic Roger Fry, c. 1912-19, produced a wide range of very artistic, avant-garde work. The group were a collaboration of artists whose aim was to produce artistic decorative work, from interiors to furniture, fabrics, etc. They were also part of a wider group of significant intellectuals, that included Virginia Wolf and Maynard-Keynes.

Almost from the start they were hamstrung by a war that dried up their buying market, like so many great talents of their generation. They carried on for several years on a shoe string income, until Fry was forced to concede defeat in 1919.

The group are now recognised for the fresh attitude and colouring they aroused and brought to interiors and furniture. They were ahead of their time by a long way, and were a great inspiration for the painted furniture craze of the last few years. The overall impression is of a group of people producing colourful and striking work and having alot of fun along the way.

After the Omega dust had settled several members carried on the artistic work, notably Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Their home has since become well known, Charleston Farmhouse, for it's wonderful artistic interiors and painted furniture. History records the loose group now as The Bloomsbury Group.

Charleston farmhouse is now well visited, and highly respected. It appeals to many today as an ideal way of artistic life. This is no doubt due to the resurgence in past years of an interest in and appreciation of artistic craft work, painted furniture in general, unusual houses and interiors.

To my mind one figure has not received the recognition he deserved, that of Roger Fry. Fry was really the driving force behind the Omega, and was a great artistic designer. He had a wonderful creative mind for decorative work and bringing the best out of artists in practical ways. His reputation will hopefully improve with time.

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