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Christmas Books 

Welcome to the Swedenborg Society's Christmas Books E-Newsletter. To celebrate the beginning of the festive season, we would like to invite you and your children to The White Bear King: a Christmas Storytelling Performance in Swedenborg Hall on Saturday 10 December. You may also be worrying about Christmas presents... Do not fear! We are pleased to introduce three new publications in the bookshop, which could be ideal and unusual gifts for your friends and family: Blake's London by Iain Sinclair, Gardens of Heaven and Earth by Kristin King and Madeleine Waller: Portraits. All books ordered before Christmas will be gift-wrapped. Further information below.

On behalf of everyone at the Swedenborg Society, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Nora Foster

Publicist, The Swedenborg Society

Event | 10 December | 2 pm

The White Bear King: a Christmas Storytelling Performance for Children

On Saturday 10 December Swedenborg Hall will transform into a magical mystery land, brought to life by storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton.

Sally is a professional storyteller and the Swedenborg Society's new Artist in Residence. The author of several children's books, Sally also co-founded the Company of Storytellers and has recently performed for both children and adults at the National Gallery, the Royal Festival Hall and the Cheltenham Music Festival. In 2010 Sally was commissioned by the British Museum to create 6 stories for its major exhibition, A History of the World in 100 Objects. Her energetic performances use gesture, voice and strange sounds to evoke other worlds and times, effortlessly engaging diverse audiences. We are very proud that Sally's artist residency at Swedenborg House is supported by the Arts Council England.

The White Bear King is a Norwegian fairytale, first published in 1871, although the story existed in Scandinavia's verbal tradition for centuries before the revolution of the printing press. In this way, by performing The White Bear King to an audience, Sally will revive the story, returning it to to the magical tradition from which it was born. Jacob Grimm (of the famous Brothers Grimm in Germany) stated that Norwegian fairy tales express a freshness and a fullness that 'surpass nearly all others'. We won't give the story away, but The White Bear King is a strange and mystical adventure, featuring a polar bear and a princess, trickery and trolls, frost and fire ... We highly recommend that you bring your children to Sally's first-ever performance in Swedenborg Hall. Adults are welcome too! 

The performance will last 60 minutes and is suitable for those aged 6 and upwards. Doors open at 1.30 pm for a 2pm start. Refreshments will also be served. Admission is free but booking is highly recommended. Please contact to reserve your places.

New Publication

Blake's London: The Topographic Sublime by Iain Sinclair

William Blake has introduced countless readers to the ideas of Swedenborg. In this essay, a revision of a lecture given at the Blake in Contexts Conference in 2007, Iain Sinclair traces the geographical, psychological and literary connections between Blake, Swedenborg and London - three entities which seem to transcend the limits of time and confuse concepts of space. Iain Sinclair, an award-winning author, has lived in, wandered through and written about London since 1969. He describes Blake as 'a presence, a guide, an advocate' and is similarly inspired by Swedenborg, referencing him in previous works Radon Daughters and London Orbital.

Like Swedenborg, Blake's visionary work is necessarily defined by fierce attention to physical detail. Sinclair explains: 'For Blake, the topography of London becomes a kind of spiritual body and almost a physical body for him.' A recognition of correspondences between the physical and the spiritual, the geographical and the psychological is a characteristic of all three authors. Sinclair walks in the footsteps of history, diverted by his own memory, evoking not only Blake but a genealogy of poets past and present, as well as his own personal experiences and anecdotes. However it is to Blake's writing which Sinclair constantly returns:

'Politics and mysticism, craft and art, vanity and modesty: they struggle. And the fight within himself - and the deep argument with what he knows of Swedenborg - is conducted through a reconfiguring of the topography of London. That which he will permit to be enclosed, wrapped in skin and sinew, and that which will break forth as chant or song or image... Entry to the world of visions and dreams.'

Blake's London: The Topographic Sublime is a joy to read and the first in a series of pocket books, containing talks, photographs and essays from the Swedenborg Archive. Limited edition. RRP is only £5.95. BUY THIS BOOK.

Swedenborg & London

There is spiritual affinity between Swedenborg and the eastern parts of this metropolis. Not only did he stay within a large Scandinavian community in Wellclose Square (E1), close to where he would be eventually buried; but in 1745 Swedenborg lodged and dined in Clerkenwell, where he experienced one of his first visions of Jesus, described in Memoirs of Robsahm. He returned to Clerkenwell in 1748 to begin writing Arcana Coelestia, and he would stay on Cold Bath fields near Warner St for his subsequent visits to London. It is interesting to note that, that despite his noble title, Swedenborg chose to lodge with skilled craftsmen rather than the learned upper classes; during his time in London Swedenborg would stay with a clock maker, a Moravian watch engraver and finally a wig maker. Swedenborg was widely known and was often seen wandering. Indeed JL Borges would later marvel at 'Swedenborg. Who used to talk with angels on the streets of London.'

New Publication

Madeleine Waller: Portraits

This book of portrait photographs by Madeleine Waller is a beautiful object in its own right, and the perfect present for a lover of art or photography.

Portraits is a record of Madeleine Waller's artist residency project at Swedenborg House (2010-11).
A critically acclaimed portrait photographer, Madeleine chose to focus on the human faces of this historic but little-known institution. This book contains 44 colour plates: photographs of members, trustees, staff and other individuals associated with the Society; Sean O'Hagan, photography critic for the Guardian, also introduces the artworks and the book contains a transcript of his Q & A with Madeleine, in which she describes her experience of the residency.

Madeleine Waller: Portraits is a limited edition publication and the third in a series recording the artist residency programme at Swedenborg House. RRP £25.00 only. BUY THIS BOOK NOW.

New Publication

Gardens of Heaven and Earth by Kristin King

Gardens of Heaven and Earth is a wonderfully lyrical study of gardens and their meaning in the context of  Swedenborg's theology. Kristin King is a lecturer in English and the author of several studies on Frost, Milton, Shakespeare, Henry James and Swedenborg among others. Gardens of Heaven and Earth is an extended essay on the garden as a metaphor, its relationship to human experience and our understanding of heaven. This work is enriched with a variety of examples and images, drawn intelligently from Swedenborg's writing and complemented by a general overview of gardens in history.

Gardens of Heaven and Earth would make a wonderful present for someone with a passion for nature and gardening, or for a more general reader of Swedenborg. RRP only £9.95. BUY THIS BOOK NOW.

The Swedenborg Society's publishing logo, an image of a gardener tilling the soil, is taken from the original illustrations to Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia (1749-56).


Swedenborg Short Film Festival: Shortlist & Awards

On 18 November the Swedenborg International Short Film Festival took place. 11 films, including 2 'invited screenings' and one installation screening were shown to an audience of over 100 people. Our esteemed judges Rosie Cooper and Ian Hunt also attended, and at the closing of the festival they announced the winner of the award for Best Film: Hisab by Ezra Wube. Hisab is an animation film based on an Ethiopian urban folk story. The piece is created using stop action animation and paint on canvas; the entire story is painted on a single surface, with each scene painted over the last. In this way the film actually embodies time and creates its own concepts of space, to tell a magical realist story of everyday transcendence.

We would like to both congratulate and give thanks to Ezra Wube, Bridget Smith, Cartwright & Jordan, Harold Chapman, Bartosz Kruhlik, Gustavo Arteaga, Greet Kallikorm, Gerard Friexes Ribera, Noriko Okaku, Kate Davis & David Moore, Lene Markusen, Howard Turner, Ian Hunt and Rosie Cooper for contributing towards a wonderful evening. We look forward to next year! Read more about the Short Film Festival 2011 here.

Thank you for reading.

Upcoming Events

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

28 January: Anders Hallengren: a Lecture in Honour of Swedenborg's Birthday

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Quote of the Month

I approached without knowing that I was pushing on into an enchanted forest where every step stirred ideas that flew up like unexpected birds, where shimmering hypotheses, echoes, and psychological chases ran together at every crossroad, and where the eye glimpses mysteriously renewed vistas, in the midst of which the hunter seeking rational answers gets encouraged, lost, and then he finds the track again, only to lose it from sight ... I love the hunt for its own sake, and there are few hunts so captivating as the hunt for the mystery of Swedenborg.

- Paul Valery, 1936 (quoted by Lars Bergquist, Swedenborg's Secret)

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