Saturday, 27 May 2023

Tuesday 27 June 2023

Why Mystery Matters



There are mysteries we don’t understand, mysteries created to entertain us and life-problems we struggle with, that remain mysterious. Few people take the time to stop and think of the value of mystery, as a thing in itself. Lifelong fortean and author Neil Nixon takes us on a tour of all things mysterious revealing a rich and varied subject offering powers we can all use and a history that is by turns insightful, frightening, and hilarious. From UFOs to stand-up comedy and from the history of religion to a psychological condition where sufferers experience themselves as being dead, this is a unique view based on a lifetime’s obsession.
Neil’s new book
Why Mystery Matters will be available on the night.


Venue: The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street E1 7EX

Date: Tuesday 27 June 2023

Time: 8pm (doors open 7.30pm)

Tickets: £5/£3




Wednesday, 19 April 2023

The Surreal Worlds of Leonora Carrington

Tuesday May 30th at the Bell 


One of Britain’s most acclaimed esoteric artists, Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was in the vanguard of Surrealist art. Her themes included feminism, ecology and the interconnectedness of everything; she had a fascination with myth and symbolism, including Tarot. 

Carrington’s cousin Joanna Moorhead, author of The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington, takes us through her art, and the many places that inspired her across Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the US, and finally Mexico, where the artist lived for more than 60 years. 

This richly illustrated talk includes Carrington’s relationship with Max Ernst and her friendships with a host of other artists including Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and André Breton. 

Joanna’s new book, Surreal Spaces: The Life and Art of Leonora Carrington,  is published by Thames & Hudson. For 30% off visit Thames & Hudson online and enter the code SURREAL30 at checkout. Code valid from 1 June 2023. 

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

Date: Tuesday May 30th 2023

Time: 7.30 for 8pm

Tickets: £5/£3 from

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 

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

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, and 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