SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Battle of Blenheim erupts over gold cage art

You might have thought Blenheim Palace had enough gilt. However the famous stately home is now locked in a battle with conservationists over a prison-style art installation.

Blenheim wants to display a sculpture known as The Gilded Cage by Chinese artist and human-rights activist Ai Weiwei.

The work features a large golden steel cage and was shown in New York in 2017 as part of a campaign against Donald Trump’s border wall plan with Mexico and in Venice in 2018. 

Blenheim wants to display a sculpture known as The Gilded Cage by Chinese artist and human-rights activist Ai Weiwei

However, conservationist experts have objected to plans to display it at Blenheim, saying it would be ‘completely at odds’ with the Unesco world heritage site.

In planning documents, the Blenheim Art Foundation said the sculpture’s ‘scale and gold hue will look aesthetically impactful against the yellow limestone and gilding of the Palace.’

It also pointed out Blenheim, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, was a safe place for more than 400 boys evacuated from Malvern College during World War II.

But objecting to the application, Richard Peats, team leader at Historic England, says: ‘The highly visible structure would appear completely at odds with the visual character of this part of the park.’

In planning documents, the Blenheim Art Foundation said the sculpture’s ‘scale and gold hue will look aesthetically impactful against the yellow limestone and gilding of the Palace’

James Spencer-Churchill, the 12th Duke of Marlborough, who is worth £188 million, lives at the palace. Perhaps he can ask his friend Donald Trump to intervene. 

The pair have struck up a close friendship after the President enjoyed dinner at Blenheim in 2018.

West Oxfordshire District Council will determine the plans in due course.

Blenheim has had problems with gilt before, of course. Last year a solid gold toilet, entitled America and valued at £4.8 million, was stolen from an art exhibition at the Palace.

Sex scenes boosted my confidence, says Daisy

As Marianne in hit BBC drama Normal People, Daisy Edgar-Jones rarely seems to have her clothes on. And the 21-year-old says appearing nude so often has given her confidence in her body.

‘Weirdly, doing Normal People has been quite an empowering thing because I had to accept very early on that really there was nothing I could change about the way I looked,’ says the Sky TV executive’s daughter.

As Marianne in hit BBC drama Normal People, Daisy Edgar-Jones rarely seems to have her clothes on

‘The day after filming I was walking to Tesco and I thought: “Oh, my gosh, I feel so liberated; maybe I’ll be a naturist, I don’t know.” ‘

Her numerous love scenes did prove uncomfortable viewing for her real-life boyfriend, the Game Of Thrones star Tom Varey.

‘There was probably a moment in episode six when he was like, “this is a bit weird”, and we all had to kind of acknowledge that it was a bit weird and then it was OK.’

‘Weirdly, doing Normal People has been quite an empowering thing because I had to accept very early on that really there was nothing I could change about the way I looked,’ says the Sky TV executive’s daughter

Screen siren Greta Scacchi credits Oscar-winning Julie Christie with helping teach her about the facts of life. 

‘When I discovered Julie Christie, it wasn’t that I was admiring the acting,’ says Scacchi

‘I was admiring the persona, I was admiring the sensuality and the beauty of this woman. It was teaching me more about that, about sex when I was 12, 13, 14, watching The Go-Between and Far From The Madding Crowd. She was an iconic woman for me.’ 

So now we know how Nicole Kidman put her foot in it. The actress has been pictured wearing a moon boot after sustaining a recent ankle injury. 

Her husband, country and western star Keith Urban, reveals she fell into a pothole.

‘Five weeks ago she was running around the neighbourhood as she does and just didn’t see a pothole and rolled her ankle,’ he says.

‘Her spirits have been amazing I’ve got to say. She has been handling it way better than I would have,’ he gushes of his wife of almost 14 years.

Kate Moss enjoys keeping it in the family. After signing her goddaughter, Ella Richards, to her eponymous modelling agency, she has got her a job close to home

Rolling Stone’s granddaughter gathers no Moss

Kate Moss enjoys keeping it in the family. After signing her goddaughter, Ella Richards, to her eponymous modelling agency, she has got her a job close to home.

Keith Richards’s 24-year-old granddaughter, whose parents are Marlon Richards and fashion muse Lucie de la Falaise, is now modelling for Debonnaire, owned by Debbie von Bismarck — the mother of Kate’s boyfriend, Count Nikolai. Debbie, whose dresses sell for up to £1,950, says of Ella’s pictured outfit: ‘Here comes summer.’

Among Kate’s other clients is her 17-year-old daughter, Lila.

Both she and Ella were bridesmaids at her wedding to Jamie Hince in 2011.

Prince brushes up on art

Lockdown has artistic benefits for Prince Charles, who has rediscovered his enthusiasm for watercolour painting.

The heir to the throne, who is at Birkhall in Scotland, was prodigious with his sable brush, producing a well-received set of paintings of royal residences — which raised big sums for his charities when he sold them as limited edition lithographs — but ever-increasing duties and commitments meant his canvases went untouched.

‘Now he’s got the time to wander —not too far — around the estate, setting up his easel at favoured spots,’ reports my man one step behind the Prince with the monogrammed picnic basket and the Balmoral tartan rug.

‘His output has been impressive; he usually finishes a painting in a day.’

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Swapping lingerie for Lycra, former Gossard bras campaign star Sophie Anderton is now keen to embrace healthy living

Stretchy Sophie puts her foot up…

Swapping lingerie for Lycra, former Gossard bras campaign star Sophie Anderton is now keen to embrace healthy living.

The 43-year-old reveals she is practising yoga to keep fit and sane in lockdown — and suggests others do the same.

She shared a picture of herself in an extended hand-to-foot pose in Wicklow, Ireland, where she lives with her boyfriend, Polish jazz musician Count Kaz Balinski-Jundzill. 

‘Finding the calm is so important throughout the chaos,’ says Sophie.

‘I find an hour of Iyengar yoga followed by stretching and 10-20 minutes meditation helps me reflect, process and find that quiet place within. Nurturing your mind is just as important as strengthening your body.’

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