A 300 foot long Edwardian Pergola found at West Dean Gardens which is part of West Dean house that was owned once by James Edward. James is best known as a passionate and early supporter of Surrealism, a movement that was born from the political uncertainty and upheaval between the wars. Rejecting the bourgeois’ dominating rationality, surrealists escaped into a world of fantasy and irrationality. He sponsored Salvador Dalí for the whole of 1938 and his collection of paintings and art objects that subsequently came to be accepted as the finest collection of surrealist work in private hands. He also provided practical help, supporting Dalí for about two years, and allowed René Magritte to stay in his London house to paint. As well as Dalí and Magritte, his art collection included works by Hieronymus Bosch, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee, Leonora Carrington, Pavel Tchelitchew, Pablo Picasso, Giacometti, Max Ernst and Paul Delvaux, amongst others. In 1964, James gave his English estate which included West Dean House at West Dean to a charitable trust. The Edward James Foundation comprises West Dean College, a centre for the preservation of traditional arts and crafts, through short courses and full-time Diplomas and MAs. One of only two professional Tapestry Weaving studios in the UK, an Art Gallery are all housed on a 6,400-acre (26 km2) estate which is open to the public through the West Dean Gardens.
West Dean College is part of the Edward James Foundation set up in 1971 in response to James’ vision of establishing "an educational foundation where creative talents can be discovered and developed, and where one can spread culture through the teaching of crafts and the preservation of knowledge that might otherwise be destroyed or forgotten".
Edward James is buried in the St Roche’s Arboretum at West Dean, with the simple inscription Edward James 1907 – 1984 Poet. The stone was carved by John Skelton.
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