Happy Birthday Arthur Rackham!

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!

 

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Omega Printmakers Exhibition

The Omega Printmakers 2017 exhibition is currently on at St. Thomas’s Cathedral, Old Portsmouth. Featuring work of twenty diverse printmakers, employing a variety of printmaking methods.

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Arthur Rackham’s 150th Birthday Celebration

19 September 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Arthur Rackham’s birth. Rackham (1867- 1939) was one of the leading illustrators in Britain’s ‘Golden Age’ of book illustration, and his works are still hugely popular today. He is linked to Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s home in Burwash, East Sussex, through his illustrations of Puck of Pook’s Hill, a tale Kipling based on the house and gardens, and to Sussex in general through a number of locations. I am very excited to be involved in a series of events run by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy and the University of Chichester.

 

Arthur Rackham in Sussex: A 150th Birthday Celebration

  • Exhibition, 8 September – 29 October 2017, Bateman’s, East Sussex

With thanks to the National Trust, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Chris Beetles Gallery, Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums, the East Sussex Arts Partnership, the Arthur Rackham Society, the Rudyard Kipling Society, Pook Press and Burwash Parish Council, an exhibition of Arthur Rackham’s works inspired by Sussex, alongside research-led responses to them by Fine Art MA student Emma Martin is on show at National Trust’s Bateman’s. The exhibition will draw connections between illustration, fine art and fairy tales, and the history of the three within Sussex, England and globally.

Arthur Rackham in Sussex: A 150th Birthday Symposium

  • Research Symposium, Saturday 16 September 2017, Friends Meeting House, Priory Rd, PO19 1NX, 9.30 a.m.-4.30 p.m.

Entry £25/£20 concessions. Buy tickets from the University of Chichester’s online store.

For details of the symposium programme, please head to the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tale and Fantasy.

 Undine – in music, words and illustration

  • Lunchtime concert, Saturday 16 September 2017, Chichester Council Assembly Rooms, 1.00 p.m

The Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tale and Fantasy and the University of Chichester’s Music Department welcomes you to a one-off musical performance of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s Undine.
The story of the romance between a water-sprite Undine and the Knight Huldbrand had a profound influence on the 19th century, inspiring operas, ballets and adaptations, including Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and Dvorák’s Rusalka, as well the imagination of Arthur Rackham. This concert performance will retell the narrative of Undine, interspersed with some of the most iconic musical versions of the story, all set against Arthur Rackham definitive illustrations. Please feel free to bring food and drink to this lunchtime performance and to buy tickets please visit the University’s online store.

‘Of all fairy tales I know, I think Undine the most beautiful’
George MacDonald

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Old Water, New Waves: Thresholds

Reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ marked an important moment in my literary life. It cemented my interest in gender studies and inspired my first short story, ‘Ulterior Design’ which was published in Black Static # 21. The rest of Gilman’s oeuvre is often in the shadow of this one great work – though her novel Herland is enjoying a resurgence of interest perhaps as a counterbalance to recent political developments – and her short story, ‘Old Water’ is one such often-overlooked work. Arguably just as revolutionary as ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, ‘Old Water’, written nineteen years later, is more hopeful, celebrating the next generation of ‘new women’ firmly in control of their destinies.

To read my full article on ‘Old Water’, which was longlisted for the Thresholds 2017 International Feature Writing Competition click here. Thresholds is the international short story forum and this year’s entries celebrate a diverse array of short story masters such as Jorge Luis Borges, Katherine Mansfield, Yuri Buida, Cormac McCarthy and many more.

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Shadows & Tall Trees 7

After a three-year hiatus, Shadows and Tall Trees is back! Undertow Books has been busy in the interim, publishing four collections of short stories (from Eric Schaller, D.P. Watt, Sunny Moraine and myself) three volumes of Year’s Best Weird Fiction, guest edited each time, and accumulating numerous awards and nominations. But three years has been a long time for readers of the genre eager for the kind of fiction Shadows and Tall Trees has come to champion: quiet horror, weird fiction with a literary edge.

With stories from Malcolm Devlin, Brian Evenson, Rebecca Kuder, V.H. Leslie, Robert Levy, Laura Mauro, Manish Melwani, Alison Moore, Harmony Neal, Rosalie Parker, M. Rickert, Nicholas Royle, Robert Shearman, Christopher Slatsky, Simon Strantzas, Steve Rasnic Tem, Michael Wehunt, Charles Wilkinson, Conrad Williams and cover artwork by Yaroslav Gerzhedovich (paperback edition) and Vince Haig (hardback edition) Shadows and Tall Trees 7 will mark the welcome return of this journal.

Award-winning writer Angela Slatter, has been kind enough to interview us all about our stories and the motivations behind them, starting Rosalie Parker, Michael Wehunt, Malcolm Devlin and Manish Melwani. And inimitable reviewer, Dew Lewis has already begun his Real-Time Review of the journal which can be read here.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy from Undertow Books.

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Peter Tennant’s Case Notes: A Sense of Unease

I have long been a fan of Peter Tennant’s Case Notes series in Black Static, which has undoubtedly set the standard for critical reviewing. So, you can imagine my excitement (and nervousness) at the prospect that my short story collection, Skein and Bone and my novel, Bodies of Water would feature in Case Notes, Black Static # 55. My first short story was published in Black Static and along with the fiction published within its pages, it was through Peter’s column that I first come across what extraordinary work is being produced in the genre. My thanks to Peter for such a thorough, erudite reading of my fiction and for taking the time to interview me about research and motivations.

      

Skein and Bone

‘It is a fine end to a superb collection of stories that, while they undoubtedly horror fiction in the main, stretch their wings and fly that bit higher, that bit closer to the sun like poor, doomed Icarus.’                                                                             Peter Tennant, Black Static # 55

Bodies of Water

‘This is a harrowing novel, one that punches far above its weight, and in combination with Skein and Bone is an assured debut mapping out the concerns and aesthetic sensibilities of a writer who may well go on to become one of the most significant new voices in our genre.’                                                                                              Peter Tennant, Black Static # 55

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History Today

I’m delighted that my article on Fallen Women appears in January’s issue of History Today magazine. Based on much of the research I carried out for Bodies of Water, my article looks specifically at the Foundling Hospital and the narratives that were expected of Victorian women who flouted the moral mores of the day.

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