Friday, 24 February 2023

The Croglin Grange Vampire

Tuesday April 25th at the Bell


In 1875, a flame-eyed creature picked at the lead in a window pane to let himself in to a remote farmhouse in Cumberland. Thus started a campaign of menace against a young woman: a campaign which only stopped when her brothers tracked the creature down to its resting place in a local crypt.
The Beast of Croglin Grange has entered our folklore as one of England’s very few home-grown vampires. So let’s take a look at the story see if we can work out what
really happened.
Deborah Hyde, former editor of the Skeptic, wants to know why people believe in weird stuff. She attributes her fascination with the supernatural to having spent her childhood with mad aunties. She approaches the subject using the perspectives of psychology and history. 

Venue: The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX

Date: Tuesday April 25th 2023

Time: 7.30 for 8pm

Tickets: £5/£3 from https://www.wegottickets.com/event/573870 

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

The Brutality of Spectacle –
A Brief History of the Execution Postcard


Tuesday 28 March 2023 at the Bell

We send and receive postcards between friends and family. But alongside images of sandy beaches and idyllic landscapes, another kind of image proliferated in the early 20th century. The depiction of execution and torture in postcard form was relatively common in the early 1900s, especially in China and the United States, a practice grounded in Western imperialism. The images on the postcards offered a persistent replaying of human degradation.

Conceptual artist Jason B Bernard and historian Jennifer Wallis illuminate the history of these macabre souvenirs, including the ethical issues surrounding their study today.. How can we begin to comprehend these images? Were they a kind of memento mori? A deterrent? Or simply revelling in the cruelty of spectacle? 

Venue -- The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX (Tubes: Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East)

Date --  Tuesday 28 March 2023 – 7.30 for 8pm

Tickets -- £5/£3 concs  https://www.wegottickets.com/event/570104/

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

The Haunted Gallery: Untold Stories of Art & Magic

Magic is a dark vein running through the history and practice of art. Join us for a selection of talks and discussions on artists and magic in art. Talks include occult art in the archives of Tate Britain and The College of Psychic Studies, the lives of Madge Gill and Austin Osman Spare, and the making of apotropaic genderqueer deities and how they ended up on walls across Britain

Saturday 25 March 2023
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Doors, books stall, and coffee from 10.30am
Talks 11am - 5pm
£18 / £15 concessions. Book in advance


Visions of the Occult: An Untold Story of Art & Magic

Archivist Victoria Jenkins presents her major survey of the occult collection of artworks, letters, objects, and ephemera in the Tate Archive. This talk offers an in-depth exploration of the occult and its relationship to art and culture including witchcraft, alchemy, secret societies, folklore and pagan rituals, demonology, spells and magic, para-sciences, astrology, and tarot.

She reveals some of the 150+ unseen esoteric and mystical pieces, never-before-seen by the public and


brings a new understanding to the artists in the Tate collection and the history and practice of the occult. The first major survey of the occult collection of artworks, letters, objects, and ephemera in the Tate Archive.

Her lavishly illustrated magical volume, Visions of the Occult: An Untold Story of Art & Magic (Tate Publishing 2022), explores the hidden artworks and ephemera left behind by artists for the first-time idea and will shed new light on our understanding of the art historical canon. Expect to find the unexpected with artists such as Ithell Colquhoun, John Nash, Barbara Hepworth, David Mayor, Max Armfield, Cecil Collins, Jill, and Bruce Lacey, Francis Bacon, Alan Davie, Joe Tilson, Henry Moore, William Blake, Leonora Carrington, and Hamish Fulton. For the first time, the clandestine, magical works of the Tate archive are revealed with archivist Victoria Jenkins acting as the depository of its secrets.

Vivienne Roberts: Lost Artists at The College of Psychic Studies 

Vivienne Roberts is the curator and archivist at The College of Psychic Studies in London where she cares for their large collection of spirit-inspired art, photographs, and artifacts from 1850 to the present day. This unusual archive, along with the College’s specialist esoteric library, has offered Vivienne the opportunity to immerse herself in a wealth of primary material and has been instrumental in helping her curate a series of large exhibitions, including Encounters with the Spirit World (2016), Art & Spirit: Visions of Wonder (2019), Strange Things Among Us (2021) and Creative Spirits (2022).

Vivienne’s art specialism is the history of mediumistic art with particular attention to its women practitioners. She has established the websites mediumisticart.com, georgianahoughton.com and madgegill.com and her independent research has led to the rediscovery of several spirit-inspired artists who have fallen into obscurity such as Alice Pery and Alice Essington Nelson. 

Vivienne is a member of the Visionary Women Research Group and the British Art Network.

Vivienne Roberts & Sophie Dutton: Madge Gill and Myrninerest

Detail from 'The Transformation'; Madge Gill
William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow

Madge Gill (1882-1961) was one of Britain’s most creative and visionary self-taught artists. An outstanding exponent of mediumistic art and one of the foremost British Outsider artists. She was born in the East End of London, where she spent the greater part of her life. On 3 March 1920, Madge was first ‘possessed’ by Myrninerest, her spirit-guide. Her contact with this phantom figure would be maintained without interruption throughout the rest of her life. 

Roger Cardinal, who coined the term Outsider Art in 1972, writes in his latest biography ‘The Life of Madge Gill’: Gill’s frenetic improvizations have an almost hallucinatory quality, each surface being filled with checkerboard patterns that suggest giddy, quasi-architectural spaces. Afloat upon these swirling proliferations are the pale faces of discarnate and nameless women, sketched perfunctorily, albeit with an apparent concern for beauty, and with startled expressions.

Working under the control of Myrninerest, Madge’s art remains an enigma. Sophie Dutton joins Vivienne Roberts to discuss Gill’s life, work and magical working. Sophie is the editor of Madge Gill by Myrninerest; a personal journey through the extraordinary archives of Madge Gill. Consisting of conversations, exclusive interviews, essays from outsider art specialists, family photographs and hand-written correspondence—plus rare and unseen works, including her revelatory large-scale embroideries— her book takes us ever closer to the enigmatic, troubled, and inspirational artist, Madge Gill.

Sophie is the editor of Madge Gill by Myrninerest.

Rachael House – Creating Genderqueer Deities

Rachael House describes the creation of her genderqueer deities and how they ended up on walls across
Britain. They are wall-hanging apotropaic sculptures, some are embellished with beads woven from queer newspapers, bottle tops and stamped ceramic charms. All the stamps used to decorate the deities are handmade, and highly charged with meaning. They include goddess symbols, trans and feminist symbols and stamps of the objects used to protect the maker from harm in witches bottles- pins, sharp things, hair, salt and herbs.

Rachael House’s work is informed by her research into witch bottles, often made from Bellarmine jugs in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Rather than warding against witches spells, her genderqueer deities protect us from gender conformity and those who would attack the rights of women, womxn and all of those with less power than the ruling elites.

Rachael House is a UK artist who makes events, objects, performance, drawings and zines. Events have been curtailed over the past years, and drawing has taken centre stage, with her first book, Resistance Sustenance Protection, published in May 2021. Rachael House’s work focuses on feminist and queer politics and resistant histories/herstories, aiming to reach as many like-minded people as possible, inside and outside of the art world. She uses humor, personal engagement and events to draw in those who may not be like-minded too – she recruits.


Phil Baker: Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

A controversial enfant terrible of the Edwardian art world, the young Austin Osman Spare was hailed as a genius and a new Aubrey Beardsley, while George Bernard Shaw reportedly said “Spare’s medicine is too strong for the average man.”

But Spare was never made for worldly success, and he went underground, falling out of the gallery system to live in poverty and obscurity south of the river. Absorbed in occultism and sorcery, voyaging into inner dimensions and surrounding himself with cats and familiar spirits, he continued to produce extraordinary art while developing a magical philosophy of pleasure, obsession, and the subjective nature of reality.

Phil Baker is a writer based in London. His books include The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley and Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist (Strange Attractor), called by Alan Moore “little short of marvelous.”


Saturday 25 March 2023

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Doors, books stall, and coffee from 10.30am
Talks 11am - 5pm
£18 / £15 concessions. Book in advance

Saturday, 26 November 2022

John Schorn: the Rector Who Conjured the Devil Into A Boot


This is the story of one of England’s “folk saints” to whom many miracles were attributed. In the 14th century his shrine became the third most popular after Canterbury and Walsingham yet, mysteriously, he remained uncanonised.

Master”, “Maister” or “Sir” John Schorn(e), Rector of North Marston, Bucks, was reputed to have miraculous powers of healing sickness. He is said to have struck the ground with his staff and a spring gushed forth; the water was excellent for curing the “ague” (malaria) and gout. Medieval drawings and wall paintings show him carrying a boot containing a small devil which he made appear and disappear as symbol of his power – supposedly the origin of Jack-in-the-Box.

Following his death, the little church of North Marston became a place of pilgrimage. A number of wayside Inns held the name The Boot as pilgrims made their way to and from North Marston on their way to Canterbury.

Archaeologist Wayne Perkins delves deep into the psychogeography of the pilgrims’ mythic landscape to learn the truth behind the John Schorn legend.

Venue: The Bell,  50 Middlesex Street E1 7EX (Tubes: Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East)

Date: 28th February 2023

Time: 7.30 for 8pm

Tickets: £5/£3, https://www.wegottickets.com/event/564586/

I've Got a Dybbuk Box and I'm Gonna Use it!


 

A cursory search on eBay will turn up any number of Dybbuk Boxes, allegedly cursed items that it is unwise to open lest you release the entity within. Are these real? Where do they come from? And what is a Dybbuk anyway? A tortured tale of demons, holocaust survivors, TV stars, unlucky rappers and online bargains.  

Fortean Times news editor Ian Simmons explores the bizarre origin and legends behind these strangely popular haunted items.

Venue: The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street E1 7EX (Tubes: Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East)

Date: 31st January 2023

Time: 7.30 for 8pm

Tickets: £5/£3, https://www.wegottickets.com/event/564582/

 

Sunday, 16 October 2022

Visions of the Occult: An Untold Story of Art & Magic

The first major survey of the occult collection of artworks, letters, objects and ephemera in the Tate Archive.

7.15pm Thursday 1 December 2022 

£8 / £5  concessions (Advance tickets)

£5 Live Stream (Tickets)

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Tube: Holborn

Directions

Mailing List

Facebook event page


Archivist Victoria Jenkins presents her major survey of the occult collection of artworks, letters, objects and ephemera in the Tate Archive. This talk offers in-depth exploration of the occult and its relationship to art and culture including witchcraft, alchemy, secret societies, folklore and pagan rituals, demonology, spells and magic, para-sciences, astrology and tarot.

She reveals some of the 150+ unseen esoteric and mystical pieces, never-before-seen by the public and brings a new understanding to the artists in the Tate collection and the history and practice of the occult. The first major survey of the occult collection of artworks, letters, objects and ephemera in the Tate Archive.

Her lavishly illustrated magical volume, Visions of the Occult: An Untold Story of Art & Magic (Tate Publishing 2022), explores the hidden artworks and ephemera left behind by artists for the first-time idea and will shed new light on our understanding of the art historical canon. Expect to find the unexpected with artists such as Ithell Colquhoun, John Nash, Barbara Hepworth, David Mayor, Max Armfield, Cecil Collins, Jill and Bruce Lacey, Francis Bacon, Alan Davie, Joe Tilson, Henry Moore, William Blake, Leonora Carrington and Hamish Fulton. For the first time, the clandestine, magical works of the Tate archive are revealed with archivist Victoria Jenkins acting as the depository of its secrets.

Victoria’s book, Visions of the Occult: An Untold Story of Art & Magic, will be available at this event.

7.15pm Thursday 1 December 2022 

£8 / £5  concessions (Advance tickets)

£5 Live Stream (Tickets)

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Tube: Holborn

Directions

Mailing List

Facebook event page




Monday, 26 September 2022

The Haunted Landscape: Folklore, Monsters and Ghosts

The Haunted Landscape calls again with demons in the landscape, kings sleeping beneath the ground, and the ghosts that have followed us through all of human history. Join the London Fortean Society at Conway Hall (or on the live stream) for a day of talks and short films on the folklore of Britain and beyond. 

Saturday 19 November 2022 

Doors, books stall, and coffee from 9.30am.
Talks 10am - 5 pm.
Lunch 1pm-2pm (ish)

£25 / £18 concessions. £15 live stream. Advance tickets

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Tube: Holborn

Directions

A link to all live streams will be sent out to all online participants after booking. 

Mailing List

Facebook event page (London)

Facebook event page (Livestream)

Talks 

9am Registration starts. 

9.30am Doors

10am Jasper Goodall - Into the Wild Night

10.30am Roy Vickery - Folklore and Dangerous Plants

11am Break

11.20am Dr Victoria Flood - Alderley Edge and the Dead Man

11.50pm Break

12.10pm Daniel & Clara - Avebury Imaginary: a personal history of a stone circle & hill

1pm Lunch

2.00pm Jeremy Harte - John Wesley and the Devil: Hell-Wrestling with the Magic Methodists

2.30pm Brice Stratford - The New Forest: A Pocket of Pixies

3pm Break

3.15pm Lisa Schneidau - Monsters from the Deep: River Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland

3.45pm Break

4.15pm Irving Finkel - The First Ghosts

5pm End

He is waiting Credit: Iain Rowan @iainrowan / @mapsofthelost


Irving Finkel - The First Ghosts

Irving Finkel takes us back to the very beginning. A world-renowned authority on cuneiform, the form
creative commons
of writing on clay tablets that date back to 3400BC, Finkel has embarked upon an ancient ghost hunt, scouring these tablets to unlock the secrets of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians to breathe new life into the first ghost stories ever written. In his book The First Ghosts, he uncovers an extraordinarily rich seam of ancient spiritual wisdom which has remained hidden for nearly 4000 years, covering practical details of how to live with ghosts, how to get rid of them and bring them back, and how to avoid becoming one, as well as exploring more philosophical questions: what are ghosts, why does the idea of them remain so powerful despite the lack of concrete evidence, and what do they tell us about being human?


Dr. Irving Finkel is Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian (i.e. Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian) script, languages, and cultures Department: the Middle East at the British Museum, headquartered in London's Bloomsbury. He is the curator in charge of cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia, of which the Middle East Department has the largest collection - some 130,000 pieces - of any modern museum. This work involves reading and translating all sorts of inscriptions, sometimes working on ancient archives to identify manuscripts that belong together, or even join one another.


Brice Stratford - The New Forest: A Pocket of Pixies


Brice Stratford discusses the specific pixie traditions of the New Forest, which survive strongly today in genuine, lived belief as a real exception to the rest of the country. Most are familiar with the folkloric survival of the Cornish and Devonian pixie traditions and are aware that pixie belief once extended from there across the entire south coast, but the survival of it in the New Forest as a distinct pocket has not been commented on, and the character of the pixies there has evolved in a different direction to that of Cornwall and Devon, wilder and more reflective of the New Forest “Commoning” practices and culture, in whose community the stories have survived,

Brice is an English director, writer, historian, folklorist, actor-manager, and heritage campaigner. He is the author of Anglo-Saxon Myths: The Struggle for the Seven Kingdoms and New Forest Myths and Folklore.

Lisa Schneidau  - Monsters from the Deep: River Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland

Weed-strewn crones, just waiting to pull you into the river. Swans with serious grudges and eels with drinking problems. Hideous creatures that never see the light of day… until you fish them out of the river. Lisa Schneidau tells tall tales from the dark side of our freshwater folklore.

Lisa Schneidau
is a storyteller and environmentalist based in Dartmoor. She seeks out, and shares, traditional stories about the land and our complex relationship with it. Lisa is the author of River Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland, Woodland Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland, and Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland (all History Press). 

She tells stories at events, nature reserves, art centers, and schools, including performance storytelling, training, and storytelling development within education, as well as helping to run South Devon Storytellers and Dartmoor Storytellers. Lisa trained as an ecologist and has worked in British nature conservation for twenty-five years. 

Jeremy Harte - John Wesley and the Devil: Hell-Wrestling with the Magic Methodists

no idea... ask Jeremy


The black flapping thing at the end of the lane was no trivial superstition but the Devil in person. Had not John Wesley himself grown up in the fear of the Lord through living in a haunted house? Many giants great and tall went stalking through the land, his followers sang; and if the thunder of the ogre’s voice usually reduced itself into the catcalling of an unregenerate mob, that only confirmed its diabolical nature. 

Satan was a physical presence who clutched and dragged; supernatural visitants gave not just advice
and solace but enough light to illuminate a cottage room; spiritual progress was noisy and physical, trembling, crying, struggling. Men of the people, the popular preachers dreamed of what was to come and were guided by special providences, shadows of the fortune-telling tracts that they had condemned. Through grace, they cast out fiends, dispelled ghosts, and crushed the horrid powers of witches. Everything claimed for magic by the unworthy was done for the saints by zeal.

Jeremy Harte is the curator of the Bourne Hall Museum at Epsom and Ewell. He is secretary of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society and created the Surrey Gypsy Archive. He is the author of Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape (Reaktion, 2022).

Jasper Goodall - Into The Wild Night

Jasper Goodall describes his work as portraying the haunted nightscape. Inspired by, among many things, the historical Swedish folk tradition of Årsgång, translated as ‘the omen walk’. It is traditionally performed on new year’s eve or the winter solstice. At midnight one must walk alone and in the dark through woods to a specific location, often the village church. Inside the woods, one was said to encounter entities or manifestations that acted as omens for the coming year. His photographs are an attempt to capture stillness, solitude, and the sense of a hushed, waiting presence that is perhaps more palpably felt in the hours of darkness.

Jasper Goodhall 

Goodall’s nocturnal photographs have been described as at once beautiful and terrifying. The images reference the idea that a kind of thrilling delight can be gleaned from viewing something eerie or disconcerting — imagining yourself in the dark places he visits. He teaches creativity and visual communication. He is a senior lecturer at the University of Brighton where he has taught generations of visual communicators for almost 20 years

Dr. Victoria Flood - Alderley Edge and the Dead Man

Alderley Edge in North-east Cheshire (UK) is a red stand-stone escarpment above a subterranean network of mines, associated with a long-lived legend of sleeping heroes, who will awaken at a time of national crisis. A non-built heritage site, now managed by the National Trust, the Edge is intensely meaningful to a relatively small group of local stakeholders alongside a worldwide audience of readers engaged with the works of the novelist Alan Garner. Garner is perhaps best known for his Weirdstone trilogy, set in (and underneath the surface of) Alderley Edge, and his 2022 Booker prize-longlisted novella Treacle Walker, which is similarly engaged with the haunted and mythologically resonant landscape of the wider region. 
Credit : Nigel Dibben

Based on research undertaken as part of the Arts and Humanities Research-funded Invisible Worlds project, this paper traces engagement with medieval prophecy at the Edge from the eighteenth century to the present, exploring the emotional resonance of its multifaceted medievalisms. It takes as it center the contested uses of the figure of the (un)dead man, the waking sleeper beneath the Edge.

Roy Vickery – Eerie Planet Folklore

Plants have had symbolic as well as practical meanings and uses since the beginning of human
civilization. This talk on the rich variety of British and Irish folklore draws on Roy Vickery‘s own unsurpassed archives collated over forty years and a wide range of historical and contemporary literature. Based on new material collected by Roy and showing that we still cling to the symbolic importance of plants. Putting conkers in wardrobes keeps moths away, and parsley – the Devil’s plant – only germinates if sown on Good Friday.

Roy worked as a botanist at the Natural History Museum, London for over 30 years, as the museum’s curator of vascular plants. He has published five books on plant folklore and is a former Honorary Secretary of the Folklore Society. He is president of the South London Botanical Institute.

Daniel & Clara - Avebury Imaginary: a personal history of a stone circle & hill

Daniel & Clara 

Artist Daniel & Clara take us on a personal journey to Avebury stone circle and Silbury Hill, reflecting on a body of work made in response to these ancient sites.
Avebury is not just a place, it is a dream built into the landscape
Since meeting in 2010 Daniel & Clara have dedicated themselves to a shared life of creative exploration, working across moving images, photography, performance, installation, and correspondence art. Using themselves and their life together as their material, their work explores the nature of human experience, perception, and reality. Set against the backdrop of the British landscape, their work presents narratives of psychological disorientation and the human creature in crisis. Instagram: @daniel_and_clara Twitter: @DanielAndClara

Jasper Goodhall

Saturday 19 November 2022 

Doors, books stall, and coffee from 9.30am.
Talks 10am - 5 pm.
Lunch 1pm-2pm (ish)

£25 / £18 concessions. £15 live stream. Advance tickets

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Tube: Holborn

Directions

A link to all live stream will be sent out to all online participants after booking. 


Mailing List

Facebook event page (London)

Facebook event page (Livestream)