The Archaeology Of British Surrealism: A Lecture By David Haycock On Zoom

Andre Breton did not believe that he had invented Surrealism in the early 1920s. Rather – as a sort of archaeologist of the unconscious – he was uncovering something that had always been there, existing at all times and in all places. Steeped as they were in the work of William Blake and Lewis Carroll, this idea of Surrealism was particularly appealing to many of the British artists and writers who became involved in the movement in the 1930s. Surrealism promised to break down the boundaries between everything: ‘The divisions we may hold between night and day – waking world and that of the dream, reality and the other thing, do not hold,’ wrote Paul Nash, one of the leading British surrealists. ‘They are penetrable, they are porous, translucent, transparent; in a word they are not there.’

In this talk, freelance art historian Dr David Boyd Haycock – curator of the short lived ‘British Surrealism’ exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery in the spring of 2020 – will explore the history of the movement in this country, from the Gothic to the Neo-Romantic.

The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism & The Cosmic Tree – Gina Buenfeld – Zoom

The magical kingdoms of plants and fungi are too often overlooked, yet the mysteries that reside in their forms and behaviours reveal a significance to human consciousness and spirituality that reaches deep into our evolutionary past, to the beginning of life itself. The symbolic forms of the tree, plant or mushroom appear in global mythologies around the world and in the languages of religious and occult mysticism, from Kabala, Gnosticism, Alchemy and Hermeticism to Tantra, Rosicrucianism and Theosophy. Plants perform a kind of alchemy by transmuting celestial energy from our nearest star into a habitable, terrestrial – material – world and the archetypes of the Cosmic Tree and the Mandala are symbolic motifs that connect the transcendent and terrestrial realms through a world axis – the Axis Mundi. These forms also direct us to the inner realm of the mind, of consciousness, of spirituality – a world that opens-up through the fractal and sacred geometries so resplendent in the vegetal and fungal kingdoms and in encounters with psychoactive plant medicines like ayahuasca, psilocybin and mescalin.

Departing from a recent exhibition at Camden Art Centre – The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and The Cosmic Tree – this talk will explore the ways in which plants have informed artists, mystics and scientists throughout history and around the world. Drawing on the wisdom traditions of indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest, where plants reside at the centre of their cosmologies, this talk will speculate on the function of pattern and music as ways to connect and communicate with the life-field we humans are entangled with – a realm that includes microbial, vegetal, and animal life.

Gina Buenfeld-Murley is Exhibitions Curator at Camden Art Centre, London where she has co-curated The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and The Cosmic Tree (2020-21); A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism (2019); Athanasios Argianas, Hollowed Water (2020); Wong Ping, Heart Digger (2019); Yuko Mohri, Voluta, (2018); Joachim Koester, In the Face of Overwhelming Forces (2017); João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Papagaio (2015); Bonnie Camplin (2016) and Rose English (2016). Recent independent curatorial projects include Gäa: Holistic Science and Wisdom Tradition, at Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, Cornwall, and Origin Story, at The Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, Turku, Finland (both 2019). In 2017 she was curatorial resident at Helsinki International Curatorial Programme, Finland and has been researching the place of plants within indigenous cultures in Europe and South America, including in Finnish Lapland (Samí shamanism) and in the Colombian, Peruvian and Brazilian areas of the Amazon Rainforest where she researched the sacred geometries and music of the Yawanawa, Huni Kuin and Shipibo-Conibo peoples. In 2014-15 she was curator-in-residence with Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT) and established Tokyo Correspondence, a series of exhibitions, residencies and research visits, facilitating cultural dialogue between artists in the UK and Japan and curated At the Still Point of the Turning World at Shibaura House Tokyo, featuring work by Manon de Boer; Joachim Koester; Simon Martin; Ursula Mayer; Jeremy Millar; Sriwhana Spong; Jesse Wine; and Caroline Achaintre. She was previously Director at Alison Jacques Gallery, London.

Image Sunset Birth by Ithell Colquhoun

Mexican Masks & Rituals – Phyllis Galembo – Zoom Lecture

PHYLLIS GALEMBO has traveled extensively to photograph the visually stunning ceremonial dress of religious and cultural practitioners in Africa, North and South America, India, and the Caribbean since 1985. Her latest body of work, turns to Mexico, where Galembo captures cultural performances with a subterranean political edge. Her signature portraiture style directly engages her subjects who are informally posed and strikingly attired, their traditional ritual dress reflecting color and light.

Masking is a complex tradition in which the participants transcend the physical world and enter the spiritual realm. Masks, costumes and body paint transform the human body and encode a rich range of political, artistic, theatrical, social and religious meanings onto the human form. In this lecture Galembo highlights the artistry of the performers, how they use materials to morph into fantastical and idealized representations of mythical figures. She captures her subjects suspended between past, present and future, with their religious, political and cultural affiliation, their personal and collective identities inscribed onto their bodies.

Galembo has published several monographs Sodo, Haiti: 1997-2001, will be published by Datz Books this year. Other publications include; Mexico: Masks, Rituals (2019), Maske (2016), Dressed for thrills: 100 years of Halloween costumes & masquerade (2002), Divine inspiration: from Benin to Bahia (1993), Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti (1998) Pale Pink (1983).

Galembo was a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 2014 as well as a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in 2016, 2010, and 1996. She earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1977.

Galembo has had solo exhibitions at the Boca Rotan Museum of Art, Florida, the International Center for Photography (ICP), new York, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., the Tang Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History, New York, among other venues and has appeared at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, and in several group exhibitions. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Houston Museum of Art, International Center for Photography (ICP), New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Yale University Art Gallery, Library of Congress among others. Her work has been widely reviewed and published in print and other media.

Ms. Galembo is currently represented by Axis Gallery, NY.

Beyond Purple Emperors, Extremes of Butterflying – Matthew Oates – by Zoom

The science and social science of butterflies just gets better and better. Our love affair with these fickle sprites of the sunshine hours continually deepens. The more we learn about them, the more we discover and the more complex they become, and the more we are enthralled and entertained. This talk looks at all this, and more.

The science and social science of butterflies just gets better and better. Our love affair with these fickle sprites of the sunshine hours continually deepens. The more we learn about them, the more we discover and the more complex they become, and the more we are enthralled and entertained. This talk looks at all this, and more. Don’t expect dull statistics and the doom and gloom of biodiversity decline. This will be a riot of joy, wonder and humour. It will jump readily between the sciences (ecology) and arts (aesthetics), between the practical and the theoretical. The aim is to stimulate interest in our butterflies and the world they inhabit.

Matthew will talk about some of his favourite butterflies, notably the monarch of them all, the haughty and downright naughty Purple Emperor; will summarise what’s happening now in the world of British butterflies, and what the prospects for the future are (the impact of climate change, and much much more). All this is happening within the context of massive renewed interest in our natural world stimulated by, believe it or not, the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions – in which masses of people flocked to the Great Outdoors, and found considerable solace and belonging there.

Matthew Oates is a nature poet, writer and broadcaster who has dedicated his life to our butterflies. He writes regularly for the Nature Notebook column in The Times and is the author of In Pursuit of Butterflies (2015) and His Imperial Majesty, a natural history of the Purple Emperor (2020). For many years he has been one of the leading lights of the butterfly conservation movement, and is an acknowledged expert of grazing ecology, chalk downland management, and the ecology of several of our resident butterflies. At the same time, he is keenly interested in the metaphysics of our relationship with butterflies.

Photo By Charlie Jackson – Purple Emperor, CC BY 2.0

Philip Terry on Oulipo, France’s Longest Lasting Literary Group

Founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais, Oulipo (the Ouvroir de littérature potentielle or Workshop of Potential Literature), has in its over six decades explored literary constraints and mathematics in writing, and continues to flourish today, making it the longest lasting literary group in France. This talk will give examples of Oulipian practice from France and elsewhere, including precursors (what Oulipo term “anticipatory plagiarists”), and writers outside Oulipo who have explored similar methods.

Speaker: Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is a poet, translator, and a writer of fiction. He has translated the work of Georges Perec, Stéphane Mallarmé and Raymond Queneau, and is the author of the novel tapestry, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize. His poetry volumes include Oulipoems, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Dante’s Inferno, and Dictator, a version of the Epic of Gilgamesh in Globish. He is currently translating Ice Age signs from the caves at Lascaux. The Penguin Book of Oulipo, which he edited, was published in Penguin Modern Classics in 2020.

The History and Mystery of Haitian Vodou, Zoom 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.

The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare – Jonathan Allen – Zoom Lecture

PLEASE NOTE FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS THIS LECTURE WILL NOT BE RECORDED

The tradition of divination using the 78 cards of the Tarot deck dates back to Protestant and Masonic sects in the 18th century. It later became an important part of the philosophy of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the 19th Century occult organisation that included Aleister Crowley, Pamela Colman Smith and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among its members. Golden Dawn had its own Tarot deck, apparently designed by one of its founders, S.L. MacGregor Mathers. Austin Spare’s life-long interest in cartomancy is well documented, yet very few of his own fortune-telling cards were thought to have survived. This compelling new example, hand-painted by the artist c.1906, demonstrates his precocious involvement with the currents that shaped the British Occult Revival at the beginning of 20th century, and his interactions with some of the period’s lesser-known protagonists.

Jonathan Allen rediscovered Spare’s forgotten tarot deck in the archives of London’s Magic Circle Museum in the spring of 2013. In his talk, Allen discusses the deck’s provenance, design and iconography, as well as its place within the wider histories of cartomancy.

Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956). Born within the sound of Bow Bells, Austin Spare’s early interests in art and the occult would remain with him throughout his life. After a turbulent career at the Royal College of Art and a pre-War period as a Mayfair enfant terrible, Spare’s star later waned and despite a modest renaissance at the end of his life, he died penniless and largely forgotten. Championed posthumously as an outsider, mystic and the progenitor of Chaos Magic, Spare was above all else a powerful artist whose myth and reputation continue to grow long after his death.

Jonathan Allen is a London-based artist and writer interested in the technology and politics of spectacular culture, and in the various magics at play in wider cultural discourse. His book ‘Lost Envoy’ on Austin Spare’s tarot deck was published by Strange Attractor Press in 2016, and is distributed by MIT Press. Allen is an associate curator at The Magic Circle Museum. www.jonathanallen.info

A Modest Look at Ritual Nudity – Professor Ronald Hutton

To tabloid newspapers, at least, one of the most striking features of modern Pagan witchcraft, or Wicca, has been the way in which many of its members have worked ceremonies in the nude. This mode of operation is certainly unusual for a religion; but how unusual is it, exactly? Ronald Hutton sets out to answer that question, and in doing so opens a door onto a world in which ritual nudity has been, since ancient times, a constant feature of two phenomena which stand outside the norms of world religion: magic and initiation rites. Why this has been so, and how it has been carried on, are two of the preoccupations of his talk; and with them a further question, of the implications of this historical background to religion in the modern world.

Speaker: Professor Ronald Hutton is a Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is a leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.

On The Monstrous Pictures of Whales – Philip Hoare – Zoom Lecture

Zoom lecture in collaboration with New York’s Morbid Anatomy

How to depict the impossible, a monster more bizarre than any medieval Apocalypse or engravings of krakens and rhinoceroses? This wretched problem faced artists and writers and alchemists before and after science, and skewed the way we saw and dealt with the whale. In his illustrated lecture, calling witnesses from Albrecht Dürer to Herman Melville, from Albertus Magnus to Marianne Moore, Philip Hoare scans the stormy horizon for fated, star-crossed beasts, elusive mammalian mountains of mystery. He explores the manner of their coming and their demise throughout modern history, how they changed according to what we demanded of them, and how their sacrificial bodies signify art, life, love and faith in our sublunary times.

These are extraordinary times and the plague has hit some harder than others, tickets are by donation – if you possibly can £10 is much appreciated, but £2 is also much appreciated. Thank you for your support.

Summoning the Spirits – Online Seance with Medium Patti Negri

Spirits are all around us. You do not have to be a psychic, medium or witch to communicate with the other side. But, there are some definite rules and guidelines you need to follow for safe, effective and powerful communication with spirits.

This intimate online seance will be limited to 24 people, giving everyone the opportunity to request summoning a specific spirit. Patti cannot guarantee every spirit will be willing to communicate, but they most always do, due to her gentle and respectful technique and amazing ability to “lift the veil” between the two worlds. Lasting around two hours, Patti will give an explanation and lesson in her proven techniques for safely and respectfully doing seances. Then, she will conduct a full séance, lift the veil and give everyone who wants one an opportunity to speak with their beloved deceased.

Since March 2020, Patti Negri has been regularly conducting on-line seances. Since spirits exist outside time and place, she has found that the internet turns out to be the perfect medium!

Patti Negri has been communicating with spirits since she could talk. She did her first séance when she was just seven or eight years old. She sat cross legged on the floor and I started asking the spirits to enter the room. She created her first chant – and low and behold – the room filled with orbs of bright light. They started in the corner and quickly began filling the room. It was amazing. She ran screaming out of the house… but had never been so excited. She had actually and consciously contacted the other side – and was able to control it. Her journey had begun. Since then she has studied religion, metaphysics, science, occult sciences and cosmologies and belief systems of all kinds and combined the truths within to create surefire and safe techniques to raise the veil between the worlds.

Patti Negri is a Psychic-Medium and “Good Witch” best known for her recurring role on the Travel Channel’s #1 show GHOST ADVENTURES. She is the international best-selling author of OLD WORLD MAGICK FOR THE MODERN WORLD: TIPS, TRICKS, & TECHNIQUES TO BALANCE, EMPOWER, & CREATE A LIFE YOU LOVE. Patti’s body of work includes appearances on such shows as MASTER CHEF, AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, WIPE OUT! and A LITTLE LATE WITH LILLY SINGH. Patti has a popular weekly podcast called THE WITCHING HOUR and can also be heard on nationally syndicated radio with Adam Corolla, Jason Ellis, Mancow Muller and Coast to Coast with George Noory. Patti was voted number one psychic, medium, trance medium, tarot reader, witch / magical practitioner in the world in an Internationally competition by Times Square Press. She has graced numerous magazine covers, contributed to over 20 books and conducted seances on radio, film, and TV working with such legends as Emma Stone, Jon Voight, Josh Duhamel, Martin Sheen and Gregory Hines.