Having spent the weekend celebrating the 150th anniversary of Arthur Rackham’s birth with a series of events organised by the University of Chichester’s Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, I’ve ended up posting this two days late of the actual big day! (19th September) Whoops. Sorry Arthur Rackham.
It was an amazing couple of days, drawing Rackham enthusiasts and scholars from far and wide. My particular thanks to our speakers who were able to furnish us with their knowledge and expertise on all things Rackham. Also thanks are due to Dr Jonathan Little of the Music Department who collaborated with me in putting together a multimedia concert retelling Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s Undine, alongside Rackham’s beautiful illustrations for the 1909 edition. The story was brought to life by the extraordinary talents of professional actors, Nick Downes and Sarah Parnell, who incidentally have a very busy month ahead with the Southsea Shakespeare Actors and their forthcoming production of Harlequinade.
We left the excited buzz of the symposium behind us on the Sunday, journeying to Rudyard Kilping’s home, Bateman’s, set amid the peaceful East Sussex countryside, to view our exhibition of Rackham’s Sussex inspired-works, alongside research-led responses by MA Fine Art student Emma Martin. I was very privileged to write the introductory essay to the catalogue but all the real hard work was done by Heather Robbins of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, who oversaw the exhibition and entire Rackham festivities and to Emma Martin, whose surrealist work blew me away. Her bold visions, so delicately executed with patient layer upon layer of egg tempera, in the context of Rackham’s work and in the historic location of Bateman’s, made a very fitting combination.
I’m very grateful to Heather Robbins for asking me to participate in such a wonderful project. As a huge Arthur Rackham fan, it was a treat to spend the weekend with fellow Rackham enthusiasts and to celebrate his big day in style, complete with cake!