Something Sussex: Mae West’s lips – the Sussex connection

25 Nov

It was something of a surprise to discover that the tiny rural village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex has a connection with such a famous and iconic piece of furniture.

The sofa is inspired by the lips of actress and sex symbol Mae West, and was the result of a collaboration between surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and Edward James (of West Dean Estate). I don’t know what exactly that collaboration involved or whether it took place in West Dean itself or elsewhere.

apparently there were five sofas made originally, although I suspect there have been many more copies made since the late 1930s when it was designed. The one pictured above is one of those five and is to be found on display behind glass in the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

I have long been an admirer of Dalí’s work, and have visited exhibitions of his work in both London and Paris and it seems almost inconceivable that there could be a connection with the tiny ancestral village nestling at the foot of the South Downs. I really am going to have to find out more about his connection with West Dean. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors bumped into Dalí whilst working in the gardens or West Dean House itself?

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