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Reading Group: The Cave of the Golden Calf

Sunday 03 Nov 10:30AM
Tickets: £7.50 – £9.50

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In 1912, a secret avant-garde venue opened up in a draper’s basement in central London called The Cave of the Golden Calf. Arguably the first gay club, and also the first blueprint of any kind of nightclub in London, the wildly hedonistic spot took its name from the Bible story about an icon of impermissible worship. It was seen as a ‘new and devilish place’, where Futurists and Modernists cavorted with artists, writers, dancers, performers and members of London’s social elites. Its Ballets Russes aesthetic was designed by Spencer Gore, Jacob Epstein and the Vorticist Wyndham Lewis, partly under the auspices of the Omega Workshops. Eric Gill did the logo, and it became the place to be for key figures of the time including Katherine Mansfield, Augustus John and Ford Maddox Ford, who became known as The ‘Troglodytes’, or ‘Cave-dwellers’. This Reading Group will enter ‘The Cave’ from the perspective of its overlap with the Omega Workshops and also the Bloomsbury Group, whose peripheral members were enthusiastic ‘Troglodytes’, and springboard us into wider discussions about the influence of Vorticism and Futurism on the developing ideals of the Bloomsbury Group at the time. We will look at surviving images of designs for the club, the letters and newspaper reports of its pioneering bacchanalia, and its position in the wider landscape of social spaces created and frequented by the Bloomsbury Group.

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