Black Cloud is a project (consisting of a publication, limited edition print and talk event) developed by CIRCA Projects with Newcastle-based artist Ben Jeans Houghton. Taking Jeans Houghton’s photographs of the Byker Scrapyard fire in May 2011 as a starting point, the project draws parallels between this event and the Great Fire of Newcastle in 1854. Featuring a new text by regionally-based writer Iris Priest, Black Cloud explores Jeans Houghton’s beautiful photographs as documents of ‘a collective public spectacle and a pseudo-magical, highly subjective encounter’.
To celebrate the launch of the edition and publication, CIRCA Projects and Ben Jeans Houghton curated a special talk event. The evening included short talks by guest speakers, intended to act as ‘further reading’ on the projects’ themes. In keeping with the event’s location in the historic Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle upon Tyne, Black Cloud: further reading aimed to uncover fascinating and tangential topics addressed by emphatic specialists.
Notes on Speakers and Performers:
Iris Priest: BLACK CLOUD
Iris Priest will give a reading from her new text about Jeans Houghton’s photographs of the Byker Scrapyard fire in May 2011.
Dr. Gail-Nina Anderson: IN COMPANY WITH THE DEAD
Taboo or a legitimate matter of education? Idle curiosity or deep faith? Looking at human remains is not, in the main, something our culture encourages, yet when the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux were briefly on show in Newcastle, the event had something of the celebratory flavour of a royal visit. This talk looks at the changing etiquette of meeting the dead, our responses to archaeologically sanctioned museum displays of human remains, and the ideas that surround the visible (and invisible) relic.
Dr George Wake: THE PLANTS OF THE GODS & ROCKS FROM SPACE
Scientist and Traveler Dr George Wake will present a lecture in two parts. ‘THE PLANTS OF THE GODS’ will focus on the ritual use of botanic entheogens throughout various cultures as ‘gateway’ drugs. ‘ROCKS FROM SPACE’ will cover Wake’s personal Interest in the collection of Asteroid and Meteorite materials many of which he sources from solo trips to the Sahara.
Rhodri Davies: 1854 – 2011
Celebrated experimental musician and harpist Rhodri Davies will create a new improvised performance symbollising a conversation between 1854 and 2011. Through burning 157 holes into a piece of sheet music from 1854 (one for every year past) Davies will create a new piece – collapsing the weight of time between then and now.