Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Museum of British Folklore

Through one of the other blogs I subscribe to I've just found out about the Museum of British Folklore, set up by Simon Costin, a designer and collaborator with the late Alexander McQueen, who apparently regularly takes part in Hastings Jack-in-the-Green festival. It sounds like a worthy venture. By the usual strange coincidences he is planning an exhibition on witchcraft in Britain in the 1950s called Dark Britannica. Here's the text from their Facebook page:

"In 2011 it will be 60 years since the 1735 Witchcraft Act was repealed in Britain. To coincide with this the Museum of British Folklore is to mount an exhibition in central London, which examines a very particular time in British history. In 1951, while London hosted the forward-looking Festival of Britain exhibition on the South Bank, the Witchcraft Act was repealed with the enactment of the Fraudulent Mediums Act.

Dark Britannica looks at the history of Witchcraft in the UK and at the host of colorful characters who were later to take centre stage in Britain's growing interest with Witchcraft and the Occult from the 50’s onwards. It was a time of 'Witch Wars', involving court cases, dramatic newspaper exposure and quite a lot of self-publicity for some people. Out of this grew an increase in public interest and a certain amount of misinformation as well as much learned and genuine exploration of the subject of Witchcraft.

Using film footage, press reports, artifacts and archival letters, Dark Britannica seeks to celebrate those who were to be the founders of the modern Neo Pagan movement and asks, is Witchcraft the only religion that Britain has given the world?"

Another excuse for a witchcraft pic.

I should also mention the recent release by the BFI of Here's a Health to the Barley Mow, a 2 dvd compilation of British custom and folklore films which sounds absolutely fascinating. There's also an insightful piece by Philip Hoare (who wrote an interesting Decadence-related book called Salome's Last Dance) in this month's Sight and Sound which can be read here.

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