Interview - Antony Penrose

In the fifties and sixties Farley Farm in Chiddingly, the home of the English surrealist painter Roland Penrose and the American photographer Lee Miller, was frequently visited by some of the leading artists of the era. Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Max Ernst all stayed there; Man Ray was a habitual guest.

My parents were looking for a place to live after the war,” says Antony Penrose, who is in charge of the Lee Miller Archives and the Roland Penrose Estate, both now based in the farmhouse, which will be opening its doors for tours during the Chiddingly Festival (see details below). “Chiddingly was a perfect spot for them: Roland had Sussex roots, they had strong connections with the Charleston set, and Newhaven was very near, which was very convenient because my parents were both enormous Francophiles, and the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry gave them easy access to Paris.”

Antony wasn’t yet two when his parents moved to the house. His mother, who had been a front-line war photographer during the war, was in quite a state. “She had post traumatic stress disorder, though it wasn’t known as that at the time. She was depressed and became alcohol dependent as a result of her war experience.” (Continued overleaf...)



Lee Miller and Antony Penrose (in toy car) at Farley Farm House,
Chiddingly c.1953’ by Roland Penrose © Roland Penrose Estate,
England 2006. All rights reserved.