Rise up! Rise up, Cormoran. Woden. Jack-of-Green. Jack-in-Irons. Thunderdell. Búri, Blunderbore, Gog and Magog, Galligantus, Vili and Vé, Yggdrasil, Brutus of Albion. Come, you drunken spirits. Come, you battalions. You fields of ghosts who walk these green plains still. Come, you giants!
---Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, in Jez Butterworth, Jerusalem (2009)
At the end of the play Jerusalem, Johnny Byron invokes a wide range of cultural, national and mythic figures to aid his ‘curse’ against the local council. Although it’s unclear whether this act ‘succeeds’, a wide range of contemporary artists, writers and film-makers increasingly seem to pick-up where Byron leaves off. From the revival of interest in ‘Folk Horror’ to the cross-over between psychogeographic and artistic practice, from Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England (2013) to Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney (2015) this ‘occultural’ representation of the rural works as both a link to the past and an articulation of pressing contemporary concerns.
The link between art, landscape and the visionary tradition is, of course, ancient. However, the recent, post-millennial popularity of this type of work has helped to embed a register of supernaturalism into the creative culture concerned with the 21st century life of Britain’s rural, coastal and edge-land areas. In contrast to the metropolitan focus that featured heavily in writing of the 1990s and early 2000s, one finds in contemporary work by John Akomfrah, Alice Oswald, English Heretic and Emily Richardson non-urban spaces populated by literal and figurative ghosts.
This is the territory of The Alchemical Landscape.
Working as an interdisciplinary, multi-platform research project, The Alchemical Landscape brings into collaboration the Faculty of English and the Department of Land Economy. It has two intersecting points of focus: the artistic representation of the British landscape as an uncanny if not haunted space, and the use of comparable ‘spectral’ language to speak about matters of environment, property and value. From economic ghost towns to geomantic visitations, the interest of the Alchemical Landscape project lies with the way these tropes describe the ‘natural’ landscape of contemporary Britain and its geographic, architectural and symbolic histories.
Our first sequence at CRASSH (2016-2017) used the seminar format to engage in an act of ‘mapping’: we invited speakers who could collectively outline the parameters of the field of interest. From here, our second sequence (2017-2018) used the title of ‘Haunted Houses’. We moved the ongoing discussion towards architectural and economic matters including property, value and site-specificity. For our third sequence (2018-2019) we have chosen the title ‘Dreamtime Politics’. These seminars will variously focus on matters of fantasy, nostalgia and imaginative capability. We hope to raise and to discuss the political efficacy of such modes when deployed in artistic and cultural products.
Theme: Dreamtime Politics
Mailing list: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit The Alchemical Landscape external website.
CRASSH is not reponsible for the content of external websites
Administrative assistance: Networks@crassh.cam.ac.uk
Yvonne Salmon directs the Alchemical Landscape Project. She lectures for the Department of Land Economy where she has directed courses on law and behavioural economics since 2009, she is also an affiliated lecturer with the Faculty of Law (since 2011), member of the Faculty of English, associate of the Department of Art History and an affiliate member of the Centre for Film and Screen, University of Cambridge. Her interdisciplinary research on law, literature, art, photography and film mirrors the principle of solve et coagula found throughout the Alchemical Landscape Project. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Royal Geographical Society and Royal Anthropological Institute and chairs the Cambridge University Counterculture Research Group. She was formerly a convener of the CRASSH Screen Media Group. She has been published by Getty, Cambridge University Press, Intersentia and the BFI, amongst others. She is currently writing on law, literature and the culture of the 1960s.
James Riley is Fellow and College Lecturer in English at Girton College where he is also Graduate Tutor. He works on modern and contemporary literature, film and counterculture. Recent publications involve a multi-volume collection on the film and literature of the 1960s. He’s currently at work on Playback Hex, a study of William Burroughs and the tape recorder. James is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He writes about his research and other matters at the blog Residual Noise.
Dr Rod Mengham (Reader in Modern English Literature, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge)
Dr Alastair Reid (Faculty of History, Life Fellow, Girton College, University of Cambridge)
Dr Robert Macfarlane (Lecturer in English, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge )
09 October 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Emily Richardson (Filmmaker) - Alchemical Landscape
|Landscapes of the Dead c.1100-c.1500|
23 October 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Carl Watkins (Cambridge) - Alchemical Landscape
|Blessed Land: Legacy and Loss within Lowestoft’s Narrative Landscape|
06 November 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Mireille Fauchon (University of the Arts London and the Royal College of Art) - Alchemical Landscape
|Hidden Channels: Archives, Tapes and Traces of Cambridge's Underground Sonic History|
20 November 2018, Seminar Room S1, 1st Floor, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road *NB Different room today*
Jo Brook (Producer and Sound Artist) - Alchemical Landscape
|The Creeping Garden|
22 January 2019, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Film screening and discussion - Alchemical Landscape
|POSTPONED 'The Past will not Forget': History, Literature and the British Regions|
05 February 2019, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Alastair Reid (Cambridge) - Alchemical Landscape
|Uncovering Eden in Interwar Bedford: The Sacred Territory of the Panacea Society|
19 February 2019, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Alastair Lockhart (Cambridge) - Alchemical Landscape
|Notes from the Phantasmagorical Society: Recent Practice|
05 March 2019, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Robert Williams (Cumbria) - Alchemical Landscape
|CANCELLED. The Past Will Not Forget: History, Literature and the British Regions|
30 April 2019, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT
Alastair Reid (Cambridge)
14 May 2019, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT
Rod Mengham (Cambridge)
|The Other Cambridge: Ley Hunting, Local Identity, The Land of Cokaygne and ...|
04 October 2016, Seminar room S2, 2nd Floor, Alison Richard Building (NB Different room today)
Nigel Pennick (author)-at The Alchemical Landscape
|Jarman and Cocteau: A Shared Vision|
18 October 2016, Seminar room SG2, Alison Richard Building
James Mackay (Film producer) - at The Alchemical Landscape
01 November 2016, Seminar room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Delaine Le Bas (Artist) - at The Alchemical Landscape
|Breathing Spaces: The Smell of Britain's National Parks|
15 November 2016, Seminar room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Rosemary Shirley (Manchester) - at The Alchemical Landscape
|Landscape, Dwelling and Site-Specific Practice|
21 November 2016, Seminar room SG1, Alison Richard Building. NB Different day and seminar room today*
Stephen Bottoms (Manchester), Yvonne Salmon (Cambridge) - Joint session Alchemical Landscape and Performance Network (CIPN)
|The Landscape as Oracle-Astrology and the Enchanted Cosmos.|
17 January 2017, Seminar room SG2, Alison Richard Building.
Prudence Jones (Author) -at Alchemical Landscape
|Online Mediated Geographies of Public Art: The Case of Paul McCarthy's *Tree * installation|
31 January 2017, Seminar room SG2, Alison Richard Building.
Martin Zebracki (Leeds)-at Alchemical Landscape
|Mutant Cinema, Alchemy and Dreams: The Visionary Films of D.Fawcett & C.Pais|
28 February 2017, Seminar room SG2, Alison Richard Building.
Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais (Filmmakers) -at Alchemical Landscape
|André Breton, Paul Gauguin and Charles Filiger: Magic, Folklore and Rural Tales in Le Pouldu|
14 March 2017, Seminar room SG2, Alison Richard Building.
March Gavin Parkinson (Courtauld Institute of Art) -at Alchemical Landscape
|Old Traditions and New?|
09 May 2017, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Sharron Kraus (Singer/Songwriter) at The Alchemical Landscape
|Property, Properties and Haunted Houses|
23 May 2017, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Panel Discussion at The Alchemical Landscape
03 October 2017, Seminar room S1, 1st Floor, Alison Richard Building. NB Different room only today*
Robin the Fog (Sound Artist / Howlround) - Alchemical Landscape
|Derek Jarman, Alchemy and the Landscape of Dorset|
31 October 2017, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Judith Noble (Plymouth College of Art) - Alchemical Landscape
|Merlin’s Isle: What if ‘the matter of Britain’ were the ‘matter’ of Britain?|
14 November 2017, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Malcolm Guite (Cambridge) - Alchemical Landscape
|Afterwords: Language, Cinema and Wandering|
28 November 2017, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Brian Baker (Lancaster University) - Alchemical Landscape
|Postponed: Polyphonic Cinema|
30 January 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Postponed: Sarah Turner (Kent) - Alchemical Landscape
|Supernatural Cities: Urban Mindscapes and Academic Liminality|
13 February 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Karl Bell (Portsmouth) - Alchemical Landscape
|CANCELLED due to strike: Topographia and Topothesia|
27 February 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Jessie Fyfe (Cambridge) - Alchemical Landscape
|CANCELLED due to strike: Artist's Talk|
13 March 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Rosanna Greaves (Cambridge School of Art, ARU) - Alchemical Landscape
|Holy Terrors: Film Screening and Q+A|
24 April 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Mark Goodall (University of Bradford) - Alchemical Landscape
08 May 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Sarah Turner (Kent) - Alchemical Landscape
|Artist's Talk - Working Site-Responsively in Crystallised Time|
22 May 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Rosanna Greaves (Cambridge School of Art, ARU) - Alchemical Landscape
|Topographia and Topothesia: Memory and Testimony in a Croatian Landscape|
05 June 2018, Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building
Jessie Fyfe (Cambridge) - Alchemical Landscape
Books and Blog
The books collection below brings together the more creative texts Yvonne Salmon and James Riley have produced thus far under the aegis of the project.
CRASSH is not responsible for the content of external websites and readings. All speakers and authors views are their own.
Yvonne Salmon convenor of The Alchemical Landscape Network has an essay published in a new book (Of Mud & Flame) from Strange Attractor Press on the film Penda's Fen.
The online magazine The Quietus have published an exclusive extract from the essay 'Yvonne Salmon explore the BBC TV play's links to a strange network of art and culture'.
Yvonne Salmon and James Riley are both funders of The Alchemical Landscape Network and also got a collaborative book coming out featuring some recent performance / prose pieces. 'Territorries' is from Contraband Press. .
The Blog can be found at 'The Bad Trip: 5 questions to James Riley'
Dr James Riley publishes The Bad Trip, a new cultural history of the late-1960s and early 1970s.
James Riley is a Fellow of English Literature at Girton College, Cambridge, focusing on modern and contemporary literature, popular film and 1960s culture. He co-edited The 1960s: A Decade of Modern British Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2018). He also makes films and performs spoken word poetry.
'Dense with conspiracies, chaos and apocalyptic death drives, The Bad Trip is a history that makes perfect sense when the sky is falling down.' The Sunday Times
'A meticulously researched look at how the hippies' rejection of rules opened the doors to drug abuse, occultism and some very dark deeds.' Mark Radcliffe
'The Bad Trip is a good trip: an essay on the power of art in dark times. In our own dark times, half a century later, that's something worth reading.' The Business Post.
The Bad Trip: Dark Omens, New Worlds and the End of The Sixties is a cultural history of the late-1960s and early 1970s, that looks at the various ideas of catastrophe associated with 1969. Key points of focus include the Charles Manson murders and the Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway.
Published by Icon Books, The Bad Trip combines narrative with critical analysis, to tell the strange story of the 'end of the Sixties'. It also unpacks and interrogates this motif via a larger reading of the anxieties and tensions permeating the 1960s as a whole. As well as Manson, there's a large cast that includes Yoko Ono, Joan Didion, Peter Whitehead, Mia Farrow, Kenneth Anger and others.
Icon timed the book's release to coincide with the 50th anniversary of
1969. For more information see: https://iconbooks.com/ib-title/the-bad-trip/
The book has received lots of media coverage (radio, television, online, national press). Details and further updates can be found via James' twitter account: @EndOfSixties.