| Event | A Ghost Story for Christmas

A ghost story for christmas-page-001

I’m going to be screening a couple of my favourite televised adaptions from the works of M.R. James in Leytonstone (London) next month. All You Read Is Love have very kindly allowed me to take over their cafe/bookstore/arts space for the evening to show, what I believe to be, the finest two filmic interpretations of James’ ghostly tales. I will also be giving a short introductory talk on the roles of hauntology and landscape in these works, as well as offering a few thoughts on the Jamesian geographies of East Anglia.

Free entry. Doors at 7pm.

Advertisements

Exhibition // Staging Disorder

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 22.40.11

Excellent exhibition at LCC, University of the Arts, London. Text taken from UAL webpage.

Address // Elephant & Castle, London SE1 6SB

Monday 26 January – Thursday 12 March
Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm, Sunday closed

‘Staging Disorder’ is an exhibition of photography, sound and moving image exploring the contemporary representation of the real in relation to modern conflict.

Curated by Christopher Stewart and Esther Teichmann, the exhibition is initiated and supported by Karin Askham, Dean of the School of Media.

‘Staging Disorder’ includes selected images from seven photographic series that were made independently of each other in the first decade of the new millennium: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s ‘Chicago’, Geissler/Sann’s ‘personal kill’, Claudio Hils’ ‘Red Land Blue Land’, An-My Lê’s ’29 Palms’, Richard Mosse’s ‘Airside’, Sarah Pickering’s ‘Public Order’ and Christopher Stewart’s ‘Kill House’.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 22.56.05Image: ‘747 Heathrow’ by Richard Mosse

These artists portray mock domestic rooms, aircraft, houses, streets and whole fake towns designed as military and civilian architectural simulations in preparation for real and imagined future conflicts across the globe. Their work poses questions about the nature of truth as it manifests itself in current photographic practice.

These themes are also extended throughout the LCC gallery spaces in work by sound artists from UAL’s Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP) research centre. CRiSAP artists Cathy Lane, Angus Carlyle (and his collaborator, the anthropologist Rupert Cox), David Toop and Peter Cusack add a multi-dimensional resonance to the photographic works with sound and moving image installations and written texts.

#stagingdisorder

Figures of Folk @ LCC 9/2 – 30/4 2015

Very much looking forward to this…

“Opening party Monday 9 February 2015, 4.30-6.30pm, including Simon Costin (Director, the Museum of British Folklore) short talk, plus Graham Goldwater on photographing museum objects

A collaboration between London College of Communication, the UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) and the Museum of British Folklore, Figures of Folk explores ongoing traditions through a series of large format photographs by Graham Goldwater of objects associated with British folklore, alongside letterpress posters created by LCC students, inspired by ancient phrases and words.”

10903869_1022642431083122_2342379113368807326_o

Strange Naturalisms: Reflections on Occult Geographies

Ankerwycke Yew 2

A few years ago I organised a half-day symposium on the themes of geography, nature and the occult under the name of Strange Naturalisms: Reflections on Occult Geographies. I was in my second year as a research student at the time and was feeling frustrated by the very few events taking place that were aimed at dealing with geographies of the strange and uncanny, not least because I knew from my own research that this was an of area cultural geography that was growing in popularity. After submitting a short proposal and projection of costs to my department, I was awarded a grant of £300 to invite speakers and pay for refreshments. I had previously met and was aware of other, more established scholars working in the field of the strange and so it made sense to try and get as many as I could together, given the small grant I had to work with, so as to establish some sort of cohesive school of thought around these geographies of the strange.

The symposium was fairly well attended for a Wednesday afternoon in late February and despite the winter weather a number of people made some heroic trips to come speak and take part in the event. As is so often the case with this sort of event I had planned on doing something productive with the speakers’ contributions but never actually got around to it. Earlier today I came across the recordings of the talks that I had taken during the session and I thought now to be as good a time as any to finally make them available.

strangenaturalisms

The abstract for the day is below and the microsite for the symposium together with the abstracts for the talks can still be found here. The running order for the talks was as follows:

Julian Holloway (MMU) – The Strange Nature of Gef the Talking Mongoose
James Kneale (UCL) – London’s ‘lively unknown dead’: Maureen Duffy’s Capital
James Thurgill (RHUL) – Conjuring place: the strange case of the Ankerwycke Yew
Owain Jones (UWE) – Sylvan Spirits. Trees as makers and shapers of strange places
Steve Pile (OU) – Telepathy, affect and the strange nature of the human mind
Phil Crang (RHUL) – Discussant

Abstract
‘Strange Naturalisms’ is a half day symposium aimed at collating discussions of the spectral, the fortean and the occult in geography; demonstrating that the very events and practices that we regard as supernatural are better viewed as instances of the vitality of nature. This event will bring together a number of geographic thinkers to discuss the uncanny formations of an occult landscape. Investigations into the fortean have proliferated within geography and cognate disciplines in recent years (See Holloway:2003,2006, Pile:2005, Dixon:2007). As such, the immateriality of place has come to rival the importance of material features in geographic writings. To this end, we have seen something of an occult turn in approaches to the landscape, with attention turning to uncovering the hidden or mystical properties of place. This session is dedicated to locating experiences of the strange; to elucidating those places that are perceived as anomalous, weird, and unnatural. There is much scope to develop understandings of the mystical, spectral and enchanted in relation to landscape, particularly in exploring the methods or ways in which we might encounter the uncanniness of N/nature. Through relations to place, landscape and the cultural practices and narratives that aid in their construction, each paper will provide an account of how our surroundings are bound up in a network of landscape mysticism.

British Folk Art: A brief reflection

folkartbannerI had been looking forward to viewing this exhibition for quite some time, particularly as a number of the items were brought in on loan from Norfolk’s museum services. Generally speaking, I prefer the offerings of the traditional crafts movement over other forms of creative practice. For me, the tactile nature of handcrafted objects, the rawness that is visibly evident in many (not all) of its works, makes for a more engaging aesthetic. The works of folk craft being functional as well as decorative pieces, always seem to convey a sense of ceremony that is not so often present in contemporary art. I think the greatest attraction for me though, is that I grew up around the production and celebration of this type of art.

My grandparent’s home was always decorated with art they had produced themselves, as well as objects that carried a sense of family memory and identity with them. The hallway was adorned with old horse brasses collected by great grandfather, who apparently had one of the largest collections of brasses in Norfolk. My grandfather, like his father before him, had worked the land with shire horse, cart and plough. I remember him as a large, stern man, who was always very matter of fact. And yet, the love he had for his surroundings was clearly and emotively expressed in the oil paintings he produced; autumnal sunsets over the salt marshes of the North Norfolk coast; water and land doused in splashes of gold and amber; small sailing vessels returning at the end of a day’s fishing. I believe that he painted not only for the joy of the art, but moreover, as a way of recording, of preserving the history of the places he loved and putting the feelings that he refused to convey verbally (at least to us children) onto the form of the canvas.

Together with the craft-works of my grandmother, their lounge was amassed with hand painted teapots and toby jugs, old maps, samplers, needle worked pictures, paintings, cushions and quilts that my family had made. My grandmother, a master quilt maker, continues to produce intricately patterned quilted blankets for the family, all of which take her months to produce and which she invariably uses to showcase her wealth of needle skills through a variety of stitching and pattern formations. She’s a dab hand with a pair of knitting needles too, though I often feel guilt ridden at asking an eighty nine year old to produce ‘wool free’ jumpers for me each winter, particularly as she never lets me pay for the materials.

So yes, much excitement over this recent exhibition, excitement that was sadly not to last. The curation, in my opinion, was poor; too many items per wall, much too little space and not enough information, moreover many of the items were hung well above eye level making it hard to really engage with them. The objects themselves were of course, beautiful, and to be fair there was a logical running order to the exhibition. However, the walls were scattered with objects which were presented in such a way as to detract the viewer from distinguishing the quality and unique characteristics of one piece from that of another. The general omission of information on the history of the pieces, and the craft behind them, detracted from the sense that the works were something special, that they differed from the landscapes and portraiture that adorned the walls of the surrounding gallery halls. I visited the exhibition during the last week of its running and it was reassuringly busy, proving that the Tate did succeed in producing an engaging and relevant show even if it got the overall presentation wrong.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 02.47.53On another positive note, the sheer number of objects gathered was indeed impressive. The collection of sewn maps was particularly interesting (at least it was for a geographer) and the large straw man, an obvious highlight of the exhibition, was every bit as enchanting as you would imagine. The carved wooden signs were also attractive looking objects and as with the maps, there was a rare opportunity for the eye to distinguish the mark of the craftsman upon them. The quilted blankets and tapestries, a few of which dated back a couple of centuries, were another example of some of the more interesting pieces; although presenting the objects flush against the wall meant that the viewer was denied all of the intricate detail of the needlework that was to be seen on the work’s reverse.

Despite the obvious downsides to the show (poor presentation, lack of space etc), I would nonetheless recommend visiting the exhibition when it makes its next stop at Compton Verney, in Warwickshire. I can imagine this second setting being far more in keeping with what the curators were hoping to achieve with the exhibition. The exhibition will run from 27 September to 14 December 2014.

Price: Adults £15, Concessions £13.50.  

St. George’s Gardens, London

St. George's Gardens, London

It’s been quite a while since i last posted anything and the site was in dyer need of an update. I’ve been busy working on completing my PhD over the past few months and with various other demands on my time, including work, I’ve neglected to use this space as I had intended. Anyway, the next few months don’t appear to be any less busy so I am forcing myself to make time and try and get one post out at least every two weeks along with some photos on the wyrd and occluded spaces I come across in my research, as well as more frequents images, sounds and links to events that might be of interest. Other than as a brief update this entry details a strange burial site I came across a few weeks ago – St George’s Gardens. It really is a strange little spot and I will write a more detailed account of the place and uncanny frequencies that resonate within it at some other point, however what is below serves as an introduction and will hopefully direct readers to a rather bizarre though tranquil spot in London’s city centre.

* * *

20130723_180023

St. George’s Gardens are formed by a small, walled cemetery in the Bloomsbury area of central London. A stone’s throw from the Kings Cross/ St. Pancras complex, the cemetery is now a public garden maintained by Camden Council. There are many cemetery spaces scattered throughout London, what makes St. George’s stand out is the the alignment of large stones set across the graveyard, diving it into two sections.

Established in 1713, this pair of burial grounds were created to serve the parishes of St. George the Martyr Queen Square and St. George’s Bloomsbury and were the first Anglican burial grounds to be placed away from the churches they were built to serve.

The line dividing line itself is constructed of what appears to be crumbled headstones. Though the area is no longer used for burials, the remaining boundary imparts a sense of strange psychic partitioning, forcing the observer to question the sacrality of either side. The demarcation of the sacred by the alignment brings the politics of both death and consecration under scrutiny – we are used to seeing such elements contained, enclaved by the non sacred, but a division within the sacred space appears quite distinct, with the line of stone itself mirroring the social division between the people of Holborn and those of Camden of who the sides of the grounds represent. The Gardens are worth a visit by anyone visiting the area and are around a 15 minute walk from either Euston, Holborn, Kings Cross or Russell Square stations. There are also plenty of large ivy clad tombs to be seen, numerous gothic style headstones and a single obelisk which along with the stone boundary is a highlight of the gardens.

20130723_175955