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London Fortean Society:
Art / Magic / Lore

29th June 2024 · 11:00am - 6:00pm

Doors open: 10:30am

In person

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London Fortean Society: Art / Magic / Lore

Art, magic and folklore cross over and over again making new forms of creativity and lore.

Join us at Conway Hall for talks and discussion on making new traditions, lost woman artists, radical Morris Dance and much more.

Lucy Wright: Start A New Tradition Today!

Post-pandemic popular interest in folklore is at an all-time high, with more people than ever choosing to take part in folk arts and customs of all kinds. But the history of the folklore discipline harbours some uncomfortable truths. Widespread perception of folk as something ‘of the past’, in need of preserving, risks perpetuating inequities around gender, race, class and sexuality that were commonplace during the heyday of the folklore collector in the late 19th and early 20th century. A firm believer that traditions need not be straitjackets but rather gentle invitations to come together and be creative, in this talk, artist and researcher, Dr Lucy Wright shares some of her observations as a collector (and creator) of ‘contemporary folk customs’, excavating the historical practices that were not deemed important enough to record—particularly those associated with women—and inventing new, more inclusive ones for the 21st century.

Lucy Wright is a former BBC Folk Award-nominated artist and a current Fellow in Folklore at University of Hertfordshire. She has exhibited at Cecil Sharp House, Compton Verney and Leeds Art Gallery, and her work, which combines performance, making and socially engaged practice, often draws on her large personal archive of photographs and research gathered over more than a decade of documenting female- and queer-led folk customs.

Kathryn Atherton : Mary Neal and the Suffragettes Who Saved Morris Dancing

The Morris revival and the militant suffrage movement were inextricably linked. The leader of the dance revival, Mary Neal, was a life-long radical campaigner for the rights of women and children. She and Emmeline both sat on the national committee of Mrs Pankhurst’s militant Women’s Social and Political Union, the most notorious of the groups campaigning for the vote for women.

After an MPhil in 17th Century Studies, Kathryn Atherton wrote for the Oxford English Dictionary, she then spent 10 years as a city lawyer. She is currently responsible for exhibitions at Dorking Museum and regularly leads guided walks and speaks on local history in the Dorking area.

Jennifer Higgie: A Journey into Women, Art and the Spirit World

Jennifer Higgie explores the notion that it’s not so long ago that a woman’s expressed interest in other realms would have ruined her reputation, or even killed her – and yet spiritualism, in various incarnations, has influenced numerous men without repercussion.

The fact that so many radical women artists of their generation also drank deeply from the same spiritual well has for too long been sorely neglected. While the individual work of these artists is unique, the women loosely shared the same goal: to communicate with, and learn from, other dimensions. Weaving in and out of these myriad lives, sharing her own memories of otherworldly experiences, Jennifer Higgie discusses the solace of ritual, the gender exclusions of art history, the contemporary relevance of myth, the boom in alternative ways of understanding the world and the impact of spiritualism on feminism and contemporary art.

Amy Hale: Ithell Colquhoun: Landscape and Love

Amy Hale – “This current drew you”: Ithell Colquhoun’s erotic energies and sacred landscapes

Between 1939 and 1943 Ithell Colquhoun created an incredible collection of very explicit drawings and paintings that likely pointed to the development of a system of sex magic. During this time period, Colquhoun also painted some of her most theoretically interesting paintings of megalithic sites in Cornwall, exploring the notion of subterranean energies welling up from under the earth. It is very likely that these two projects were connected for Colquhoun, becoming an expression of her animism and also part of a wider investigation of the vital energies that can be harnessed and exchanged between people and with the earth. This explicitly illustrated talk will compare images from Colquhoun’s erotic corpus and some of her images of sacred landscapes, exploring ideas about energy exchange and union with the divine in all its guises.

Dr. Amy Hale is an Atlanta-based writer, curator, critic, ethnographer, and folklorist, speaking and writing about esoteric history, magic, art, culture, women, and Cornwall. She is the author of Sex Magic: Ithell Colquhoun’s Diagrams of Love and Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of The Fern Loved Gully.

Hayley Lock: An Altered Self

Hayley Lock is an artist based in Suffolk, UK. Her research interests concentrate on the Occult and occult practices with a particular focus on female otherness within mediumistic practice, identities and locations. Her recent focus has been to centre on experienced and altered realities through performative action, specifically through historical radical technologies and theories of the weird.

She is currently working with and under hypnosis to engage as an altered self, looking at where the unconscious meets the conscious, creating new systemic structures of belief. Often re – staging found, experienced and imagined conversations she appropriates, re – imagines and mirrors back a pseudo fantastical world where visions are commonplace and imagination is rife, revealing often, a dark world in perpetual crisis.

Thomas Sharp, Marc Spicer & Rosey Trickett: Circling the Square Mile

On Leap Day, February 29th, 2020, thirty people placed 100 handcrafted bronze mushrooms in a perfect cirlce around the City of London, the Square Mile, the dark heart of the country’s financial operations. The economy crashed the following week. On Leap Day 2024 we did it again, reweirding the world’s largest faery ring. And Leap Day 2028 is already marked in our diaries.

This is a binding. Necessary because all evidence points to the fact that City Traders are the faery folk the old tales warned us about. Poet Thomas Sharp and Creative Directors Rosey Trickett and Marc Spicer explain.

Age Recommendation:16+

Price: Standard £18 • Concessions £14 

Access Information

Due to the age and Grade Il listing of the building, there is no lift access to rooms above the ground floor.

All the ground-floor rooms are fully accessible by wheelchair. Main Hall (street access, step-free), Brockway Room (street access, step-free), Bertrand Russell Room (street access, shallow ramp), Hive Cafe (street access, step-free), There is also an accessible toilet on the ground floor opposite the Brockway Room.


Other events that may interest you:

Conspiracy Theory and Culture

The Undesirables: The Law that Locked Away a Generation

Further Info

If you have any accessibility enquiries, please contact us at / 020 7405 1818.

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