films, nuns and music


This week at swedenborg has been rich, varied and downright surreal as ever … The exhibition, Remnants, is still on display and we have been enjoying a number of visitors curious to see the archive objects (or simply curious to wander around Swedenborg House!) The exhibition is installed throughout the bookshop and the upstairs Wynter room, but we have to work around the building’s room hire commitments; so James, Alex and sometimes I have been intermittently reinstalling and uninstalling the exhibits in the Wynter Room. Because one cannot trust a class of American students with nineteenth-century miscellanea. Certainly not. Our current Artist in Residence, the storyteller Sally Pomme-Clayton was able to drop in on Friday to see the exhibition, and was so inspired by the objects that she said she sat down and wrote for an hour, perhaps on Swedenborg’s writing table which is on display in the Wynter room. Sally’s narrative imagination was particularly excited by JJG Wilkinson’s notes on fairies, and his diagrams proposing that fairies are a sub-section of angels which live in our eyes (read more about it in Alex’s library blog). Sally’s responses to the Swedenborg archive and to the building will form part of her final storytelling performance on Saturday 20th October. Before this, she will present two performances in Swedenborg Hall, one for adults on 10 May (Eros and Psyche) and one for children in July, (date tbc).

We had thought that Eros and Psyche would be the Society’s next event after the exhibition, but we are very pleased to have just (this very minute!) confirmed a very special film screening in six weeks’ time. On 17th April, the director Michael Whyte will present his beautiful documentary, No Greater Love in Swedenborg Hall. No Greater Love is a film about an order of Carmelite nuns in Notting Hill. One of our trustees, Howard Turner, brought the film to our attention last year and Stephen and I have been trying to find a way to show it ever since. We think that the unique atmosphere of Swedenborg Hall will compliment the film perfectly and are very pleased that Michael Whyte will be present to introduce his work and also answer questions afterwards.

Meanwhile we are attempting to decide which films to screen as part of our Ingmar Bergman Film Season in September. The Seventh Seal is an obvious definite … But it’s proving difficult to choose three more films from Bergman’s back catalogue. In a way there’s too much choice, but we also have to think about what’s too depressing or explicit! The season will probably end up focusing on Bergman’s early works which explore faith and doubt and, of course, DEATH (a suitably ‘Swedenborgian’ theme). During our research, we’ve discovered that like Swedenborg, Ingmar Bergman was the son of a Lutheran Bishop and lived much of his life in Uppsala!

I should probably stop rambling now but in case you’re interested we are also attempting to organise an ‘Art and Spirituality’ festival with the artist Kevin Quigley; this will hopefully take place on Friday 4th May and will feature the ONE AND ONLY Jozef Van Wissem who has recently released an album with Jim Jarmusch, inspired by Swedenborg’s writings (strange but nevertheless true). Meanwhile we are listening to our President Anders Hallengren’s new album of experimental music. And I sent a copy of Memoirs of Swedenborg to the King of Sweden on his request.

Speak soon!



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