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

Animal Transformations: Selkies, Werewolves and Witch-Hares – Dr Larrington

Join Professor Carolyne Larrington on an exploration of the strange folkloric world of animal transformations. From selkies – seal creatures caught between the pull of the human and maritime worlds – to the shape-shifting werewolves of the Middle Ages. Or the rather less threatening witch-hares, a common transformation beloved of witches – often undertaken, it is said, merely in order to steal milk from a neighbour’s cow… These complex stories speak to us of issues of power and control, and of how we look at the female body and issues of gender, enabling us to think about and question contemporary ideas.

Professor Carolyne Larrington teaches medieval English literature at St John’s College, Oxford. She studied medieval English language and literature at St Catherine’s College, Oxford and has a DPhil on Old Norse and Old English wisdom poetry. Her research interests range widely. She primarily works in Old Norse-Icelandic and Arthurian literature, but Arthurian literature in particular is a European phenomenon and so she writes about romances composed in Old French, Middle High German, Italian, and Old Icelandic-Norwegian. She has a number of recent publications on the subject.

Carolyne also writes on medievalism and folklore, in 2015 publishing The Land of the Green Man. A BBC Radio 4 series based on this was broadcast in 2015 and can be heard here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06b8vxv. With Dr Fay Hield of the University of Sheffield, she is Co-Investigator on an AHRC-funded research project ‘Modern Fairies and Loathly Ladies’. This involves working with creative artists – musicians, poets, painters, photographers – to produce new mediations of tales from British folk traditions about fairies. Also in 2015, Carolyne wrote Winter is Coming: the Medieval World of Game of Thrones, exploring the historical inspiration behind the fantasy phenomenon. You can hear a talk she gave at the Ashmolean Museum on the book at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjlxMT3Pt1o.

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

Galen: most-celebrated physician in the ancient world – Vivian Nutton /Zoom

Join Vivian Nutton to learn about the most-celebrated doctor in the ancient world: Galen of Pergamum (129-ca. 216 CE). Galen was Greek by birth (Pergamum is close to the present-day city of Bergama, Turkey) but spent most of his career in Rome, where he was the personal physician to three Emperors. Galen was one of the most prolific authors of his age, and around a sixth of all surviving ancient literature in Greek was written by him. Celebrated in his own lifetime, he was regarded as the preeminent medical authority for centuries after his death, both in the Arab world and in medieval Europe, with much of our later medical knowledge stemming from his pioneering work. It was only the scientific discoveries of the Renaissance that removed Galen from his preeminent position in the pantheon of medicine.

Professor Vivian Nutton is a medical historian, specialising in the history of the classical tradition in medicine, from antiquity to the present. He is perhaps best known as a historian of the life, works and influence of Galen, but his research interests extend into broader areas of the history of medicine, and of the classical tradition in Europe and the Islamic world. Much of his recent work has also focused on the history of anatomy in the sixteenth century.

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

Tammy Blee’s Cabalistic Agency – Jason Semmens – Zoom

Although much has been written about the historic folk-magic practitioners known as cunning-folk in recent years, in-depth accounts of individual conjurors are few owing to a paucity of documentary materials. Some cunning-folk, however, are better attested in the historical record, allowing for a more detailed reconstruction of their practices and the social contexts of the complaints their clients brought before them. More archival material for Thomasine Blight (1793-1856), the Cornish cunning-woman, otherwise known as “Tammy Blee,” survives than for any other folk-magic practitioner in nineteenth-century Cornwall. Treating her as an exemplar of the cunning-person’s trade, this talk sets out to explore Blight’s milieu as a provincial conjuror in early Victorian Britain.

Speaker: Jason Semmens, M.A., is the Director of the Museum of Military Medicine and an independent scholar with particular research interests around the history of vernacular beliefs in the preternatural in the South West of England from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries.