Occult World, Art & Poetry of Marjorie Cameron – Dr. Manon Hedenborg White

“In early 1946, 24-year-old illustrator and artist Marjorie Cameron (1922–1995) met the autodidact rocket scientist and occultist John “Jack” Whiteside Parsons (1914–1952), one of the earliest followers of the religion Thelema, founded by the British occultist Aleister Crowley (1875–1947). Parsons, who was magically trying to bring the Thelemic goddess Babalon to earthly incarnation, was struck by Cameron’s flaming red hair and dramatic looks, and the pair became lovers. Playing a key role in Parsons’ “Babalon Working”, Cameron soon began studying occultism under Parsons’ tutelage. Following Parsons’ accidental death in 1952, Cameron delved deeper into Thelema, magic, and visionary states, experimenting with peyote and seeking the guidance of her Holy Guardian Angel. She devoted the rest of her life to occultism as well as her art and poetry, which continuously explored themes of metamorphosis, eroticism, and death. As an icon of the Los Angeles artistic avantgarde, Cameron inspired filmmakers Curtis Harrington and Kenneth Anger, starring as the “Scarlet Woman” in the latter’s Crowley-inspired Inauguration of the Pleasure-Dome (1954). This talk will delve into Cameron’s art, poetry, and occultism, situating her as one of the most enigmatic mystical visionaries of the twentieth century.”

 

Manon Hedenborg White holds a PhD in the History of Religions from Uppsala University. She is the author of ”The Eloquent Blood: The Goddess Babalon and the Construction of Femininities in Western Esotericism” (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Surrealist Sewing Machines and the Artistic by Dr Abigail Susik – Zoom

Why were surrealists so preoccupied with the imagery of the sewing machine? Artists such as

Man Ray, Salvador Dalí, Óscar Domínguez, and Joseph Cornell devoted artworks in different mediums to the iconography of the sewing machine. Elisa Breton, Alan Glass, Maurice Henry, Konrad Klapheck, and others followed suit later in the 20th century. Certainly, surrealists were inspired by the infamous simile of the late-19th century writer Comte de Lautréamont in his experimental text, Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror) (1868–69): a desired male lover is as handsome “as the chance juxtaposition of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table!” However, a closer examination of surrealist texts from the interwar period reveals that figures such as André Breton and Óscar Domínguez were also deeply interested in the sensational 19th century French medical discourse about the gynecological dangers of sewing machine work for women.

In this lecture devoted to surrealist sewing machines and the surrealist movement’s interest in female masturbation as a form of social-sexual resistance, art historian Abigail Susik will share research from her new book, Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work (Manchester University Press, October 2021). Focusing on paintings and objects by the Canarian artist Óscar Domínguez, as well as other surrealist artworks from the 1930s, this talk will uncover some of the secrets of surrealism’s sewing machines and its other objects of self-pleasure and autoeroticism.

Abigail Susik

is Associate Professor of Art History at Willamette University and author of Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work (2021). She has written numerous essays devoted to Surrealism and is co-editor of Absolutely Modern Mysteries: Surrealism and Film After 1945 (2021) and Radical Dreams: Surrealism, Counterculture, Resistance (2021). She is co-curator of the 2021–22 exhibition Alan Glass: Surrealism’s Secret at Leeds Arts University and also curated a major survey of Imogen Cunningham’s photographs at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, OR, in 2016. Susik is a founding board member of the International Study for the Society of Surrealism and co-organised its 2018 and 2019 conferences.

Rita Angus – Adrian Locke hosted by JP Stonard

Rita Angus (1908-1970) is a much-loved figure in New Zealand; in a 2006 opinion poll her 1936 painting of the tiny railway station Cass (on the TranzAlpine Christchurch to Greymouth line) on the South Island was voted the most popular painting in the country. Her enduring landscapes and portraits (including a remarkable group of self-portraits) emerged at a time when artists could not earn a living solely from their art and commercial galleries barely existed. Determined, however, not to compromise her work, Angus pioneered a new, national art creating a hitherto absent artistic identity for New Zealand. Despite this her work has never been the focus of a monographic exhibition outside of New Zealand. This was going to change thanks to an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in partnership with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington which was postponed because of the COVID 19 pandemic. The rescheduled exhibition will open in Wellington in December this year but will no longer travel to London. The lecture will present an overview of her remarkable life and work

Adrian Locke joined the Royal Academy of Arts in 2001 having completed a PhD at the University of Essex. Since then he has worked on a wide variety of exhibitions at the RA. In 2018 he curated The Art of Diplomacy: Brazilian Modernism Painted for War at the Sala Brasil in London for which he was awarded the Ordem do Rio Branco for services to Brazilian culture. He co-curated the forthcoming exhibition on Rita Angus with Jill Trevelyan which will open in Wellington, New Zealand at the end of this year.

John-Paul Stonard, a writer and art historian. His book Creation. Art Since the Beginning, a new history of art from cave painting to contemporary, will be published by Bloomsbury in Autumn this year

Picture :

Angus, Rutu, 1951

Oil on canvas, 71.5 x 56 cm

Te Papa, Wellington

Courtesy of The Estate of Rita Angus

Lost Exhibitions – Philip Guston Now – Mark Godfrey hosted by JP Stonard

a recording of this lecture will be sent to ticketholders who miss the lecture

In this talk, Mark Godfrey will reflect on the plans for the Philip Guston Now exhibition that was supposed to take place at Tate Modern in February 2021 and that is now delayed until 2023. He will discuss decisions that the curators made about the checklist, the exhibition’s original narrative and flow of rooms, and the way in which the catalogue was conceived. There will be an account of the plans that were in place for the presentation of Guston’s 1930s and 1960s works that include images of Klansmen. He will also discuss some of the responses to the decision taken in September 2020 not to proceed with the show in 2021.

Dr. Mark Godfrey is an art historian and curator based in London. He taught History and Theory of Art at the Slade from 2002-2007 and was Senior Curator, International Art at Tate Modern until early 2021. While at Tate, he curated and co-curated retrospectives of Roni Horn, Francis Alys, Alighiero E Boetti, Richard Hamilton, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Franz West, and Olafur Eliasson as well as the group show ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’. His books include ‘Abstraction and the Holocaust’ and Alighiero E Boetti, both published by Yale. He won the Absolut Art Prize for Art Writing in 2015 and was a jury member of the Venice Biennale in 2017. He is currently at work on exhibitions of Laura Owens, Jacqueline Humphries, as well as the 2021 Hyundai Turbine Hall commission at Tate Modern by Anicka Yi

John-Paul Stonard, a writer and art historian. His book Creation. Art Since the Beginning, a new history of art from cave painting to contemporary, will be published by Bloomsbury in Autumn this year

New Orleans Voodoo, A fully illustrated lecture by Dr Louise Fenton

Vodou is a religion that emerged from the cultural traditions of enslaved Africans, syncretised with forced Catholicism, on the Caribbean Island of Haiti.

Often misrepresented, stereotyped and misunderstood, this talk will discuss the history of Haitian Vodou. Vodou is a religion that emerged from the cultural traditions of enslaved Africans, syncretised with forced Catholicism, on the Caribbean Island of Haiti. Dr Louise Fenton will explore the evolution of Vodou before offering a visual journey through the intricacies of the religion, an overview of the belief systems and the rituals. Vodou has had a turbulent history, persistently facing persecution. This talk will explore the attempts by the Church and State to eradicate this religion through the anti-superstition campaigns and the US Occupation. It will then examine some of the mysteries that have evolved through the literary and cinematic representations in the early twentieth century, those that have reinforced prejudice and led to the generalised term ‘Voodoo’ in the Western imagination. This talk will offer an overview of Vodou, a vibrant religion and a cultural force that has survived and thrived.

Speaker: Dr Louise Fenton is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton. Her PhD in Caribbean history from the University of Warwick was on the History and Influence of Haitian Vodou within British and American cultural production. Louise’s research interests are in Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, Icelandic Witchcraft and European Witchcraft. She has written about the demise of the cinematic zombie in Recovering 1940s Horror Cinema (Lexington, US, 2014) essays on various representations of Vodou in The Voodoo Encyclopaedia: Magic, Ritual and Religion (ABC-Clio, US, 2015), poppets and the social history of curses. She curated the 2017 exhibition at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic Poppets, Pins and Power, which explored the social history of curses and cursed objects. As an artist Louise also uses her visual practice within her research and is currently working on Atmospheric Spaces and Enchanted Places.

Children of the Night: The History of the Wolf in Britain – Derek Gow/ Zoom

The wolf’s strange imaginative hold over us is reflected in the wealth of spurious falsehoods that persisted about it long after the species had been hunted and hounded to the dark edges of the British landscape. There seems little certainty about when the wolf became extinct here, though Anglo-Saxon place names that refer to wolves are relatively commonplace, indicating the species was still widespread (or at least recently had been) during the period; this is backed up by the considerable numbers of successfully hunted wolves recorded as late as the second-half of the tenth century.

Already on the wane as a British species, however, the increasing penchant of the monarch and the ruling class for the pursuit of deer led to an escalation of wolf-removal efforts after the arrival of the Normans. In 1281 Edward I commissioned Peter Corbet, a Shropshire knight, to bring out about the final extermination of the species from England – a feat he is said to achieved nine years later (though there is written documentation of eight cattle being killed by wolves at Rossendale in Lancashire at the start of the fourteenth century); by this point wolves had already likely long-vanished from Wales. Canis lupus lingered much later north of Hadrian’s Wall (and later still in Ireland), with a 1427 law passed during the reign of James I of Scotland making wolf-hunting a compulsory activity there. This did not lead to a nine-year removal like the purported extirpation south of the border, as Mary, Queen of Scots was still enjoying the hunting of wolves in the Forest of Atholl during 1563. However, the intensive forest exploitation of the period would have meant that any remnant wolf populations still clinging to Caledonian survival must have been approaching their final days by the end of the century. Perhaps the animal’s last stand was made in 1743 along the lonely middle stretch of the River Findhorn, thirteen miles east of Inverness. There, according to Victorian accounts composed nearly a century later, a six-foot seven-inch giant of a man named MacQueen slayed a huge black wolf: the last of its kind left in the land.

Derek Gow is a farmer and nature conservationist. Born in Dundee in 1965, he left school when he was 17 and worked in agriculture for five years. Inspired by the writing of Gerald Durrell, all of whose books he has read – thoroughly – he jumped at the chance to manage a European wildlife park in central Scotland in the late 1990s before moving on to develop two nature centres in England. He now lives with his children at Coombeshead, a 300-acre farm on the Devon/Cornwall border which he is in the process of rewilding. Derek has played a significant role in the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver, the water vole and the white stork in England. He is currently working on a reintroduction project for the wildcat. Derek’s book, Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man’s Quest to Rewild Britain’s Waterways, was published in 2020.

Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com

Arthurian Legend – Elizabeth Archibald – Zoom lecture

For more than a thousand years, the adventures of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table have been retold across Europe. They have inspired some of the most important works of European literature, particularly in the medieval period: the romances of Chrétien de Troyes, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. In the nineteenth century, interest in the Arthurian legend was revived by Tennyson, Wagner and Twain, with T. H. White’s 1958 novel The Once and Future King – as well as Hollywood and the small screen – showing a more-recent interest.

Elizabeth Archibald has been Professor of English Studies at Durham since 2012, from where she is due to retire in August 2021. Before that she held posts at King’s College, Cambridge, the University of Victoria (Canada), and Bristol University. She specializes in medieval romance and the classical tradition in the Middle Ages, with a particular interest in the Arthurian legend. She is co-editor of the journal Arthurian Literature, and a past President of the British Branch of the International Arthurian Society. Her current research project is an interdisciplinary study of bathing in medieval literature and society. Elizabeth has published monographs on Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Variations (1991), and Incest and the Medieval Imagination (2001), and has co-edited A Companion to Malory with A.S.G. Edwards (1996), and The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend co-edited with Ad Putter (2009). Her many essays and chapters range over classical and medieval themes and texts, including Chaucer, Malory, and Scottish literature.

Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com

Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft – B Hoggard

Join us in this Zoom lecture to learn about the material evidence of witchcraft beliefs which have been discovered in the fabric of buildings throughout the British Isles – and far beyond. Objects such as witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, written charms and markings which have been carved onto surfaces all testify to these strong beliefs which were once commonplace.

Brian Hoggard has been studying history, archaeology and folk beliefs since his teens; his Twitter account enigmatically states that he has been a ‘Researcher of strange things found in walls and under floors since 1999…’ Brian’s undergraduate dissertation focused on folk beliefs and witchcraft, when he noticed there was a huge amount of further work that could be done to explore the archaeology of witchcraft. At that point his research escalated into a major project which has culminated in the publication of Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft (Berghahn 2019). For more information see:

www.apotropaios.co.uk https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/HoggardMagical

Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com

Tattoo: An Art History – Dr Matt Lodder – Zoom lecture

Despite its rich visual culture and aesthetic traditions, there has never before been an art history of the tattoo. Beginning by explaining the origins of the art form – with Captain Cook ‘discovering’ the tattooing practices of Polynesians – Tattoo: An Art History will then trace the history of tattooing as a professional artistic practice in Britain from 1870, when the first professional tattoo studio opened, to the present day. In this enthralling talk (which accompanies a forthcoming book of the same name), body art and modification expert Matt Lodder establishes a chronological survey of an oft-misunderstood and much mythologised mode of art-making from the sumptuous, gilded artisanal studios of Victorian London, via the bawdy dockside spaces of the 1950s, through to the seemingly ubiquitous tattoo culture of the twenty-first century.

Lodder reveals how tastes and technologies have affected the type of images being tattooed; how innovations in both style and method percolated within, to and from Britain; who the most important and influential tattoo artists were and how, despite common misunderstandings to the contrary, tattooing has always been a permanent fixture of the visual culture of Britain’s entire social spectrum – popular amongst sailors, aristocratic ladies and even kings.

Dr Matt Lodder: Matt completed his PhD in 2010, having submitted a thesis entitled ‘Body Art: Body Modification as Artistic Practice’. Before his current role at the University of Essex, Lodder taught contemporary art and theory at the Universities of Reading and Birmingham. His current research is principally concerned with the history of Western tattooing, and the artistic status of body art and body modification practices. He has lectured on topics including body modification practices, tattoos and tattooing; contemporary performance art; deconstructivist architecture; lowbrow and outsider art; pop surrealism; digital and internet art; art & science; and Deleuzean approaches to art.

Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com

The Cult of Mithras – David Walsh – Zoom lecture

The cult of Mithras was an esoteric religion that existed in the Roman Empire from the 1st to the 4th centuries CE. Known also as the Mysteries of Mithras, its origins are vague. Scholars have suggested a link with the ancient Indo-Iranian god Mitra and the Iranian Zoroastrian deity Mithra, but the full extent of the connection is swathed in controversy. Followers of Mithras are, however, believed to have taken part in various rituals, including communal meals and a complex initiation system featuring seven stages. Depictions of Mithras often show him being brought forth from a rock, eating food with the sun god Sol and fighting with a bull. Places of Mithraic worship have been found throughout the Roman Empire, including the impressive London Mithraeum (unearthed in 1954) and the Carrawburgh Mithraeum on Hadrian’s Wall. However, the rise of Christianity sent Mithraism into decline in the 4th century CE, with it eventually disappearing completely. Today, many elements of the cult provoke debate, especially as we have no written accounts left behind by its members. Resultingly, archaeology has been of huge importance in the study of Mithras and has provided new insights into Mithraism and its adherents.

Dr David Walsh works for Canterbury Archaeological Trust and is an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Kent, where he taught Classical and Archaeological Studies for three years. He also undertook his PhD at Kent, which looked at the development and demise of the Mithras Cult in third to fifth centuries AD. David’s thesis was published as a monograph in 2018, and he has also written various articles on temples in the Roman Empire, as well as hosting a podcast ‘Coffee and Circuses’ in which he discusses with guests their work on the ancient world.

Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com