The Curios Society

  • 6 The Chymical Wedding - The King & Queen 2012

    Robert Williams, The Chymical Wedding – The King & Queen, 2012, courtesy Robert Williams

Past Event

This event was on Sat 3 Mar, 3pm

Assembling on the first three Saturdays of Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World, The Curios Society meets to investigate the weird and wonderful, the unlikely and impossible. 

Alchemy can describe a philosophical tradition, an esoteric practice, a way of thinking and at times, an artistic methodology.

We meet artists Robert Williams, Kate Briggs and Jane Topping to explore ideas of the alchemical in art. From transmutation in translation to the figure of the alchemist in popular film cultures, this talk charts a course through the mysteries and cultural intersections of alchemy.

Ticket price does not include entry to the exhibition.

About the Speakers

Professor Dr. Robert Williams is an artist and academic. Williams’ practice includes a number of projects in the UK and USA with close collaborators such as artists Mark Dion and Bryan McGovern Wilson; conceptual writers Dr. Simon Morris and Nick Thurston; German cultural sociologist Dr. Hilmar Schäfer, and with his son, Jack Aylward-Williams. Notable projects with Dion include The Tasting Garden at Lancaster (1998), The Tate Thames Dig (1999), Theatrum Mundi: Armarium at Jesus College, Cambridge (2001) and the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (2011). A recent major Arts Council England funded project with American artist Bryan McGovern Wilson explores the confluence of nuclear energy, mineral extraction industries, archaeology and folklore in the North-west of England. Cumbrian Alchemy (2011-2017) was shown in the UK and France, Umeå in Sweden in September 2016 as part of The Arts Catalyst Nuclear Cultures project, led by Dr. Ele Carpenter, and is now at Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium.

Kate Briggs is a writer and translator based in Rotterdam, where she is a core tutor on the MFA in Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute. She is the translator of two volumes of lecture and seminar notes by Roland Barthes (Columbia University Press, 2011 and 2013). Further publications include: Exercise in Pathetic Criticism (Information as Material, 2011), On Reading as an Alternation of Flights and Perchings (NO Press, 2013) and The Nabokov Paper (Information as Material, 2013) ‘Small Hand (A Paper-Size Poem)’ (Convolution, 2014) and ‘Story the Story in It’ (Amodern 6, 2016). This Little Art, a long narrative essay on the practice of translation, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in September 2017:

Jane Topping graduated from Glasgow School of Art and then served time on the Transmission committee. Recent exhibitions and screenings include The Fifth Annual Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival, New York (2017),  Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala, India (with Lux Scotland, 2017), solo show Screen Used, Patricia Fleming Projects, Glasgow, Glasgow Short Film Festival (2016), Transit #3 and everything crooked will become straight, Glasgow (2016), among many others. Her film Peter won Best PKD Short at The Fifth Annual Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival, New York, 2017. She was a recipient of the summer residency (2017) at Hospitalfield, Arbroath and was on the jury of the No Budget Competition at the 32nd Hamburg International Short Film Festival (2016). She is currently Programme Leader of Fine Art BA (Hons) at the University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts.

Mark Dion. The Bureau of the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and Its Legacy 1

Artist Talk: Mark Dion

Thu 15 Feb 2018, 7pm
£12.95/£9.50 concs

Join the artist Mark Dion and former Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick to discuss his work.


A Natural History of Witchcraft

Sat 10 Mar 2018, 6pm
£5/£3.50 concs

Explore the significance of natural substances in the history of witchcraft, from taxidermy to dried plants.