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Autumn Newsletter

Welcome to the Swedenborg Society's autumn e-newsletter. Read on to discover our latest news, upcoming events and publications. These include Madeleine Waller's Artist in Residence exhibition opening; a lute performance by Jozef Van Wissem; the Bloomsbury Festival; a series of literature/music events featuring Brian Catling, Don Paterson and MacGillivray; a recommendation to buy Images of the Afterlife in Cinema by James Wilson; and news of a Swedenborg Ballet opening on Broadway in New York.


Best wishes,

Nora Foster

Publicist, The Swedenborg Society.

Event 22 October | 6 - 9 pm

Madeleine Waller Artist in Residence Exhibition & Book Launch

We are extremely pleased to present an exhibition of photographs by our latest Artist in Residence Madeleine Waller. Madeleine completes her residency on 22 October with the opening of her exhibition throughout Swedenborg House, held in conjunction with the Bloomsbury Festival 2011

A critically acclaimed photographer, Madeleine's residency is focused on the human faces of this historic but little known institution; she has been taking portrait photographs of trustees, members, staff and other individuals associated with the Society. Madeleine's finished works will be on display throughout Swedenborg House and digitally projected in Swedenborg Hall. The exhibition opening will take place from 6 - 9 pm; refreshments will be served and she will present a slide show of her work. We will also be launching Madeleine Waller: Portraits, a limited edition book containing prints of the photographs, plus an Introduction and an interview with the artist by Sean O'Hagan, photography critic for the Guardian.

Everyone is welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing lots of you here. It would be great to confirm numbers so please RSVP to

Event 22 October | 7.00 pm

Jozef Van Wissem : a Music Performance in Swedenborg Hall

On the evening of Madeleine's opening, we are proud to present a performance by 'sublime master of the lute' Jozef Van Wissem in Swedenborg Hall. Jozef will play compositions from his latest album, The Joy that Never Ends (2011), a work which has been influenced by the ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg. Featuring tracks such as 'Concerning the Precise Nature of Truth' and 'Concerning the Beautiful Human Form After Death' (featuring Jim Jarmusch on guitar!), The Joy That Never Ends has been hailed by critics as a triumph, containing minimalist melodies of astonishing beauty, reminiscent of both modern electronic music and medieval compositions for strings. Watch the video for the title track, The Joy that Never Ends here.

BOOK YOUR PLACES NOW. Admission for the performance is free but capacity is limited. Please contact or (020) 7405 7986 to book your place.

Jozef Van Wissem's performance and Madeleine Waller's exhibition opening are organized in conjunction with the Bloomsbury Festival 2011.

Event 24 October | 7.00 pm

An Evening with Brian Catling & MacGillivray: You Carry Fire

On Monday 24 October 2011, the inimitable Brian Catling will return to Swedenborg Hall, to perform with the vocalist MacGillivray, as part of a special series of events entitled YOU CARRY FIRE.

Brian is a performance artist, a filmmaker, a sculptor and a poet, and also Professor at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University. Brian performed in Swedenborg Hall with Iain Sinclair last year, and the two authors have created a collection of texts and images inspired by Swedenborg House, which the Society will publish with BookWorks in 2012. For his appearance in Swedenborg Hall next Monday, Brian will read from the second part of his surrealist trilogy, The Vhorr. This trilogy is as yet unfinished and unpublished, so Brian's readings will represent exclusive access to the work; and we doubt that his performance will stop there!

Brian's readings will follow music from MacGillivray. Limited capacity. Tickets cost £10/£8 concessions including wine. BOOK YOUR PLACES NOW.

Event 27 October | 7.00 pm

An Evening with Don Paterson & MacGillivray: You Carry Fire

Award-winning poet Don Paterson will appear with the vocalist MacGillivray on Thursday 27 October.

This is the last in the YOU CARRY FIRE series featuring MacGillivray with selected authors; but it will be Don's first performance in Swedenborg Hall, and we are delighted to be welcoming him here. Don's first collection of poetry
, Nil Nil (1993), won him the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. He has twice won the TS Eliot Prize for other works and his collection of poems, Landing Light (2003) also won the 2003 Whitbread Poetry Award. In 2008 he won the Forward Poetry Prize and was awarded an OBE; and in 2010 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. Don's poetic voice, informed by his musical ear, is both contemporary and timeless, and his focus moves effortlessly from the satirical to the metaphysical. Don Paterson's performance in Swedenborg Hall should not be missed.

Don's readings will follow music from MacGillivray. Limited capacity. Tickets cost £10/£8 concessions including wine. BOOK YOUR PLACES NOW.



MacGillivray's beautiful and haunting performances will form the thread between the different evening events entitled YOU CARRY FIRE.
 MacGillivray creates luminous and stark vocal landscapes, working with electric autoharp, church harmonium, wine glass and piano. Her two albums, Wolf and Radiophonic Sabluna have been performed as support for The Fall, Arlo Guthrie and featured on Radio 3, The Verb and Late Junction. We recommend that you come to witness these performances, which transform Swedenborg Hall into a uniquely atmospheric concert venue. More info here.

Recommended Publication

Images of the Afterlife in Cinema by James Wilson

If you enjoyed the Swedenborg Film Season, or the very idea of a Swedenborg Film Season, then we would like to recommend a new book by James Wilson, Assistant Editor at the Swedenborg Society. These essays were written to accompany the first ever Swedenborg Film Season (2010), a series of films screenings exploring depictions of the afterlife in a variety of cinematic genres. The volume includes texts on Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder (1990), Hirokazu Kore-Eda's After Life (1998), Marc Forster's Stay (2005), Goran Dukic's Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), Peter Hewitt's Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), and Michel Powell & Emeric Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death (1946). These essays draw out possible parallels between the images of the afterlife portrayed in these films and Swedenborg's descriptive philosophy on life after death. Also included is the transcript from James' interview with award-winning Eisenstein scholar Robert Robertson, highlighting Eisenstein's interest in Swedenborg and its effect on the aesthetics of his work.

RRP £5.85.
(Duchy of Lambeth 2011). BUY THIS BOOK


 Angels of Swedenborg: a Ballet

Ping Chong's landmark dance-theatre piece, Angels of Swedenborg will return to the stage on 27 October 2011. Originally performed in 1985, the production has been revived by La MaMa ETC on New York's legendary Broadway. The ballet combines dance, theatre, music and multi-media projections; and it features eight angels, two spirits and Swedenborg himself, re-imagined as a representation of modern man caught between his desire for material comfort and spiritual enlightenment.

The director Ping Chong first encountered Swedenborg through The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges. This helped to inform his vision for the piece, which, like Sweden's recent opera Secrets, will no doubt expose Swedenborg and his work to a whole new audience.

Angels of Swedenborg will run from 27 October - 13 November 2011 at La MaMa ETC, New York. More info here.


Alex Murray's Blog

Read Alex Murray's latest staff blog on our website. It contains items of interest which Alex has discovered as he sorts through the archive: the story of the 'Swedenborg Whale', Isaac Pitman and the phonetic alphabet and TS Arthur's comedic attempts at the 'reform of female etiquette'.Alex's first blog explored the poetry of JG Wilkinson, his notes on fairies, homeopathy and spiritualism. Read Alex's blog and more Society news here

Swedenborg's Readers

Quote of the Month

Swedenborg worked day and night and never had fixed hours for work or rest. "When I am sleepy", he said, "I go to bed". All the attendance he required from his servant, his gardener's old wife, consisted in making his bed and placing a large jug of water in his anteroom, his housekeeping being so arranged that he could make his own coffee at his cabinet stove, and this coffee he drank in great abundance, day and night, with much sugar. 

- extract from Memoirs of Swedenborg by Carl Robsahm (Swedenborg Society, 2011)

Upcoming Events

22 October: Madeleine Waller: Artist Residency Private View

22 October: Jozef Van Wissem: a performance in Swedenborg Hall

24 October: Brian Catling & MacGillivray

27 October: Don Paterson & MacGillivray

18 November: Swedenborg International Short Film Festival

24 November: An Evening with Marina Warner

10 December: Sally Pomme Clayron Artist in Residence: a Christmas Performance for Children

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