Splendid Vices, our symposium in the Orangery, was standing room only, as our guests crowded in to hear speakers discuss Byron’s lasting influence on popular culture.
Suavely chaired by Michael Bracewell, the panel examined our long, and still strong, love affair with the Gothic, with Philip Hoare, author of acclaimed biographies of Noel Coward, Stephen Tennant and Oscar Wilde.
True dandy Sebastian Horsley, handsomely attired in top hat and red waistcoat, enthralled the audience with his heroic philosophy of the dandy as the self-made symbol of rebellion, an art work in himself. In the meantime he attempted to answer a Dandy’s A-Z, devised by Nottingham Contemporary’s Director Alex Farquharson. With many a circuitous anecdote at the ready, he ran out of time around D.
Guests then adjourned to the cool Newstead cloisters to sip Pimms, where the fountain has been customised by Blue Firth’s evocative Pentagram installation. In a cellar off the cloisters, formerly Byron’s personal plunge pool, Ulla Von Brandenburg’s Ghost film flickered faintly. Others joined Marcia Farquhar for her ebullient Byronic tour The Dangerous To Know Society, that took guests through the house and gardens, and finally to the Newstead lake, where she drew up bottles of lake-chilled wine.
In the house itself, the guests explored the wonderful rooms, locating the artistic interventions that so subtly evoke the spirit of Lord B himself. As the sun sunk in the sky, illuminating the Abbey ruins, and the peacocks strutted the ancient sward, surely he looked down – or up – and smiled.
That Beautiful Pale Face Is My Fate (For Lord Byron)
Venue: Newstead Abbey