Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults – Third Announcement.

Ok so this is our third announcement for Folk Horror Revival’s Witch Cults event on 14 July at The Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle, and as you can probably see the lineup is starting to take shape. Only two things to announce today, but we still have a number of amazingly cool things to bring you before the lineup is complete. Anyway back to today and firstly we have another addition to our musical lineup.

PEG POWLER

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Peg Powler are a four piece acoustic band from the Teesside and North Yorkshire areas performing original material, traditional folk songs and blues & jazz standards. Their original material embraces literary motifs, contemporary life and traditional, mythical and historical influences.  They play regularly at folk, poetry and literary festivals, folk and acoustic events and are the house band at Folklines, Middlesbrough’s contemporary evening of music and spoken word.

They take their name from the mythical hag of the River Tees, a grindylow who is said to grab children and wayward young men who stray too close to the bubbling river’s edge and devour them in her watery den, known as Hell’s Kettles.

Peg Powler’s debut album, Northern Lines is available on iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.

Band members:

Ian Bartholomew: Guitar/Vocals/Songwriting;

Sara Dennis: Vocals/Ukulele/Harmonium/Percussion/Songwriting;

Mags Forward: Fiddle/Backing Vocals;

Graham Brotton: Double Bass/Guitar/Backing Vocals.

http://www.pegpowlerband.co.uk

@pegpowlerband

#pegpowler

 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING…

‘The best new folk band in the North.’

Andy Willoughby, Poet, Literary Director and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing.

 

‘Beautifully dark and twisted folk music with a macabre streak a mile wide.’

Bob Fischer, BBC Tees

 

Peg Powler are a North East band standing firmly in the present but with roots running deep into the past. Drawing upon wealth of folklore, myth and history their powerful original songs bring us face to face with a host of wyrd characters, dangerous situations and dark dramas that remind us of our own challenges and of how our own choices will shape our futures. This is beautiful, breath-taking and intelligent music.

Bob Beagrie, Poet, Literary Director and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing.

 

‘It’s common nowadays when trying to describe musicians to say they are a little bit of this or that, well if it helps, Peg Powler are like early Fairport mixed with the Strawbs, and dash of Pentangle. But more than all of this, their music sounds like home to me. Sara Dennis’s lilting voice with an edge of jazz to it would be equally at home in a Greenwich Village jazz cellar, but the music is rooted on the banks of the Tees, singing about the water witch, the eponymous Peg Powler or the all-American Emily Dickinson. It’s all here.’

Peter Lagan, Lutenist

 

 

Also joining our carefully curated programme of films we have a classic witchcraft documentary from the golden age of witchcraft films, 1970s.

 

 

Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri (Witchcraft 70)

Angeli-Bianchi...Angeli-Neri

We are proud to present a very rare screening of the European version of Luigi Scattini’s ‘Witchcraft 70’ documentary. This is a very different print than the American version of the film, it starts with grave desecrations in Highgate Cemetery London that is not in the US print. Featuring a wonderful score by Piero Umiliani, that really helps give the documentary the feel of classic Italian horror movies at the time. The film is very much a product of its era and the voice over sometimes contains some ‘groovy’ dialogue.

This version features extended footage of British witches Alex and Maxine Sanders preparing a ritual. The film also covers a black mass and Anton La Vey and the Church of Satan as well as voodoo rituals. The documentary does not differentiate between Satanism, black magic and witchcraft and puts them in a melting pot together to make a heady psychedelic brew. Copies of this movie are very hard to come by as it’s never been officially released on DVD and the last screenings of it in the UK took place in the 70’s, today we present the best sourced version that we can find. Witchcraft 70 is certainly a product of its era, the film does contain nudity and animal sacrifice that may upset some viewers. This is the extended 90 minute version, we show it here as a time capsule of when witchcraft was at its public height within the media consciousness.

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They join those already announced on the lineup that promises to be one of the truly outstanding witchcraft related events of the year. So far we have:

Speakers – Darren Charles, Gail-Nina Anderson, and Bob Beagrie

Films – Simon King of the Witches, and Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri

Musical performances – Peg Powler, Hokano, Heartwood Institute, and Black Mountain Transmitter.

Still come we have more wonderful speakers, more amazing musical acts, a selection of specially chosen short films, and even more exciting things taking place which I can’t reveal to you just yet.

Tickets for either the full day or just the evening event are available from the eventbrite link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

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The Wyrd Kalendar – Spectral Fields – The First Mix

The Kalendar Host has been reading.

He has found himself lost in “A Year in the Country – Wandering Through Spectral Fields” by Stephen Prince. This incredible work has inspired a new journey out of the Kalendar Heath and across these Spectral Fields to discover music, ideas, stories, folk horror jaunts, hauntological treats and nostalgic terror.

This is the first of four mixes dedicated to this new book. This mix explores chapters 1-13 through music, sound and key extracts, acting as an accompaniment or, if you will allow, an aural appendix.

Discover the delights of the Albion Country Band, John Martyn, David Bowie, The Sally-Angie, Trader Horne, Demdike Stare, Howlround, Belbury Poly, The Advisory Circle, Hoofus, Lubos Fiser, Frog, Broadcast and the Focus Group, Jugg, The Soulless Party, The Rowan Amber Mill and Emily Jones, Magnet, Broadcast, Pulp, Sneaker Pimps, The Owl Service, Ultravox, Strawberry Switchblade and Nik Kershaw. As well as this you will be able to experience soundtracks from War Games, The Owl Service, The Changes, Sky, Penda’s Fen and many many more…

Buy the book here…

http://ayearinthecountry.co.uk/the-a-year-in-the-country-wandering-through-spectral-fields-book-and-a-visual-accompaniment/

A-Year-In-The-Country-Wandering-Through-Spectral-Fields-book-front-and-back-cover-575x382.jpg The A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral …
ayearinthecountry.co.uk
“This incredibly well-researched book, which is obviously written by a man with an enormous passion for this subject, is probably as comprehensive as it is possible to be.

Our second Witch Cults Announcement is Here.

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The second announcement for our Witch Cults event which takes place at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle upon Tyne, on July 14th is finally upon us and what a wonderful selection of speakers and musicians we have for your delectation.

Joining our musical programme we have the world’s finest “purveyors of sonic archaeology” The Heartwood Institute

The Heartwood Institute

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Their latest album Secret Rites has been described as “an unholy collision of Throbbing Gristle style proto industrial, kosmiche krautrock and 70’s folk horror soundtracks.” The album’s overriding  focus lies heavily on the witchcraft documentaries of the 1970s, Secret Rites, The Power of the Witch, Witchcraft ’70, and The Legend of the Witches, and in particular the prominent stars of the period Alex and Maxine Sanders, the self appointed King and Queen of the Witches. The album is in their own words ” A hauntological delve into a time when the Occult was making inroads into mainstream media, truly the Age of Aquarius…”

For their performance at Witch Cults you can expect a setlist largely fashioned from the material on this album. We here at Folk Horror Revival are very much looking forward to checking them out on the evening.

Hokano

Hokano

Hokano is the solo project of Andy Hokano, mainly known for his work with the coldwave/neofolk outfit The Psychogeographical Commission and Newcastle based occult drone trio Chonyid. Andy will be performing a set based upon his forthcoming release “Witch Pricker” which is based loosely upon the 1650 Newcastle witch trials.

Gail-Nina Anderson

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Gail-Nina Anderson is a cultural historian, lecturer and journalist based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a specialism in the visual traditions of the Gothic.

She has contributed to the Fortean Times and the Journal of the Folklore Society, as well writing on Victorian art, William Burroughs, fairy traditions, and the Angel of the North. She reviews regularly for The Crack, is an active member of the Dracula Society and is one of the founders/readers for the Lit & Phil’s bi-annual “Phantoms at the Phil” ghost story event. Her third exhibition of weird and wonderful postcards will take place this summer in Newcastle.

We can’t wait to hear Gail-Nina’s talk “Hecate or the Horned Man – was there a God of the Witches?”. How about you guys?

Ok, that’s enough for today’s announcement. So far we have talks from Gail-Nina Anderson, and Darren Charles, Bob Beagrie’s poetry recitals, music from Black Mountain Transmitter, Hokano and The Heartwood Institute, and our first film Simon King of the Witches.  We still have quite a bit to come so please stick with us and hopefully we shall have our next announcement up in a few days time.

Tickets are available now from the eventbrite link below, priced at £25 for the full day event and £15 for the evening event alone.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

Sarah Dean – The Pilgrim Interview

Welcome to this the third in our series of interviews conducted by our very own man about town, John Pilgrim.  Harpist Sarah Dean is someone I was only vaguely aware of until recently, So for me this interview is going to prove very interesting from a personal perspective. Anyway I will shut up and leave the rest to John and Sarah.

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John Pilgrim: What first attracted you to the harp?

 

Sarah Dean: My awareness of all things harp began with listening to The Celtic Renaissance album by Alan Stivell and then hearing Jon Anderson playing it. I’m drawn to things that create atmospheres and that’s what I love about the harp.

 

John Pilgrim: How has your understanding of the Celtic harp and its associated traditions developed over the years?

 

Sarah Dean: Bizarrely enough a guest spot with my local Women’s Institute on ‘Being a Harper’ sparked off lots of research and I put all this on my webpage entitled ‘All Things Harp’. I found out lots of things about the harp that I didn’t know, the origins of it, how physically it’s developed over the centuries and all the mystique surrounding it…fascinating stuff, thank you Ladies of the WI!

 

John Pilgrim: You seem to have strong affinity for the music of the 1970s. This is the classic era for Folk Horror film, television and literature.  What bands do you particularly like from around this time? And would you agree that the 70s are returning in some ways?

 

Sarah Dean: I’m stuck in the 70’s to be honest! As to returning, I don’t think it’s ever really gone away…music comes and goes and people are influenced by all sorts of things and all the things you grow up with and listen to. It all fashions the music we make, either consciously or subconsciously.  I was very lucky to have an older brother and sister who let me rifle their record collections when they went out, so Pink Floyd, Yes, Wishbone Ash, Gryphon, Led Zeppelin and actually too many to name are all their whirling round from a very early age…as well as The Osmonds and Suzie Quatro, what a mix. Then of course Punk happened.

 

John PIlgrim: The countryside is clearly important to you. What role does it play in relation to your music, songwriting and general outlook on life?

 

Sarah Dean: I moved out of York in 1997 and actually just needed the fields and trees around me all the time…birdsong especially.  I’m drawn to nature and the constant changing of the seasons is always a fascination to me.  Being outdoors for me frees the mind and nurtures the soul and I think I have written about this quite a lot.  We write about things we know generally, don’t we? So writing a song about cloud watching or running down a hill with my dog seems a good a topic as any!

 

John Pilgrim: Are you interested in the new nature writing – if so, which writers particularly appeal to you?

 

Sarah Dean: I am an avid reader of all things nature wise: Roger Deakin, John Lewis-Stempel, J.A Baker, Thomas Pakenham, Robert MacFarlane. I hoover up books like these – glorious writing!  Nan Shepherd, Christopher Somerville.  I’ve just finished Peter Wohllebens’ The Hidden Life of Trees. Books that you can come back to and dip in again. It’s great that there’s so many new writers too, if we can get people reading and appreciating the countryside and nature then hopefully we can look after it better!

 

John Pilgrim: I understand that your creative talents have extended to other outlets such as music for meditation, poetry and animated vikings. Can you tell us more?

 

Sarah Dean: I’ve recorded a lot of music for meditation and actually the harp is just fabulous for this.  Again, creating atmospheres and soundscapes that can take you to other places.  We live in a world of constant mind traffic and the need for mindfulness and meditation is key to mental health.  I’ve been asked to do various projects to put poetry to music, our dear friend Don Walls was someone who I collaborated with doing joint concerts, song and poem swapping.

 

John Pilgrim: Your performances often include a little bit of humour and you clearly enjoy the engagement you have with audiences…

 

Sarah Dean: I must admit that given the chance I’d probably like to do a bit of stand up comedy. It’s true I do love to have a bit of banter with the audience, I’m very much of the opinion that this time with the audience is a one-off event and it’s about communication, not just through song but the whole rapport that you can build up.  It’s probably a reaction against seeing Van Morrison in concert and I seriously don’t think he said a single word to the audience.

 

Performing and sharing the music and songs with an audience and having an interaction is really important to me, but it depends where you are, so each concert is different in that respect.  Working in bands is always fun, because you never know what could or might happen.  In the last couple of years I’ve been on the road with The Heather Findlay Band and whenever she’s trying to tune the guitar I slip into a bit of Tubular Bells just to fill the time…having Spinal Tap moments like when my a cappella trio Soundsphere played at The Sage in a choir festival and we couldn’t find the stage and ended up getting very lost.  Being asked to play the theme from Blackadder for a wedding, yes it’s possible.  I’m working on a harp version of Popcorn as we speak…no, I really am!

 

John Pilgrim: The Black Swan in York is well known to you, but Swansongs will be your first Folk Horror Revival event. What are your expectations of the night?

 

Sarah Dean: I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be making some musical magic at the Swansongs gig and I’m looking forward to meeting all the musicians and hearing their music. The Black Swan holds lots of happy memories for me and the Wolfe Room is so atmospheric, the ambiance it creates will make for a really special night and I’m delighted to have the chance to play a part in it.

 

SS

Swansongs takes place May 12th at the Black Swan in York. The last few remaining tickets are still available for this fabulous event from the following eventbrite link, but get in quick as numbers are very limited and we are getting close to selling out.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swansongs-tickets-44059576379

Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults – First Announcement!

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Banner design copyright Andy Paciorek and Cobweb Mehers

 

Welcome to this, the first announcement of our exciting Witch-Cults event taking place July 14th in Newcastle upon Tyne, and we have a veritable smorgasbord of good stuff for your delectation.

Ok let’s begin with the first musical announcement for our evening entertainment. (Please note the film screening will also be part of the evening entertainment, this film programme will run twice during the day, once across the afternoon 12-5 and once in the evening 7-12)

 

Black Mountain Transmitter

 black mountain trans

Black Mountain Transmitter is the one-man project of J.R. Moore from Northern Ireland. Since 2008 he has been creating instrumental soundscapes influenced by a diet of horror fiction and film, VHS era ‘Video Nasty’ soundtracks, The Radiophonic Workshop and the abject electronics of the early Industrial music pioneers. Known for albums such as “Black Goat of The Woods”, “Playing With Dead Things” and “Oscillator Ritual”, his work has been released by Auris Apothecary (USA), Aurora Borealis (UK) and his own Lysergic Earwax label at http://www.lysergicearwax.bandcamp.com

“Like an old horror film where the special effects are too cheap to give you a real shock, but the ideas are warped enough to make you stay awake afterwards for far longer than you wanted to” – Wire magazine

“The sounds created by Black Mountain Transmitter gives the impression of having been set in motion long ago by some remote force” – Julian Cope.

 

 

Moving onto our daytime programme, this section will be made up of talks, film screenings and one or two other exciting developments still to be announced. Anyway, without further ado here are the details of the first speakers to be announced and the first feature film in our screening programme.

Darren Charles

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Photograph courtesy Graeme K. Cunningham

Folk Horror Revivalist, Unearthing Forgotten Horrors DJ, and member of both The Equestrian Vortex and The Mortlake Bookclub. Darren Charles wears a number of different hats at various times but is very much embedded in the Folk Horror scene. Darren recently completed an MA in History at Newcastle University and will be using his expertise to discuss either Historical Accuracy/ Inaccuracy in relation to the Cinema of Witchcraft, or The Newcastle Witch trials.

He has previously spoken on the topic of Folk Horror at Cambridge University, The British Museum, Edinburgh Summerhall, The Hepworth, Wakefield, and most recently at The Scottish Pagan Federation Conference at the Pleasance in April. Darren is a longstanding member of the Folk Horror Revival admin group and is currently hard at work on several book projects.

 

 

Bob Beagrie

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Photograph Courtesy Kev Howard

Bob Beagrie, award winning poet and performer has published 7 collections of poetry most recently This Game of Strangers (Wyrd Harvest Press 2017) and Leasungspell (Smokestack Books 2016). His work has been translated into Finnish, Estonian, Danish, Urdu, Dutch and Swedish. He is a founder member of the experimental word and music collective Project Lono and a Senior Lecturer at Teesside University.

Bob will perform sections from the epic poem The Seer Sung Husband, a verse novel about Old Mother Shipton and ill fated rebellion against Henry VIII known as The Pilgrimage of Grace.

 

Simon, King of the Witches

simon

This gloriously campy over the top horror movie from 1971 directed by American racing driver turned director Bruce Kessler is the first title for our film programme. A psychedelic cult classic that so far remains unreleased on these shores in any format. It stars Andrew Prine as Simon Sinestrari, a ceremonial magician, who’s ambition it is, to become a god. Simon lives in a storm drain, selling charm and potions as a means of getting by. The film is a wild psychedelic freak out with drugs, parties, Satanic rituals and all kinds of lysergic madness and mayhem. Over the years Simon has become a beloved cult classic and Folk Horror Revival are excited to be bringing Simon to the big screen at the Star and Shadow, Newcastle.

Don’t forget this is only the first announcement so loads more fascinating content still to come, we’ve barely scratched the witch…err I mean surface. Anyway ticket links are now operational and the pricing structure is as follows:

Full day ticket (12noon -1am)      £25

Evening only tickets (7pm-1am)  £15

Both are available from the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

 

Wyrd Harvest Press – Wildlife Trusts projects update

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Since its creation in 2015, Wyrd Harvest Press -the publishing arm of Folk Horror Revival has charitably donated all of the profits from sales of its creations on its online bookshop  www.lulu.com/spotlight/andypaciorek
to various projects undertaken by the The Wildlife Trusts.

They have just been in touch to update us on the progress of some of those projects.

 

Northumberland Wildlife Trust

  1. £771.92 for Living Seas Appeal.  The total amount raised on this appeal was £7,745.17 (between July 2014 and last donation on June 2016). The appeal has concluded, with an appeal for further funding for a new marine project possibly coming soon. This project has focussed primarily on education and awareness of how amazing our living seas in the north of England are and how people can discover more about them, and support them going forward.

 

  1. £771.92 for Red Squirrel conservation work. This is an ongoing project badged as RSNE (Red Squirrels Northern England). It, along with numerous other work by The Wildlife Trusts to preserve Red Squirrel populations, is a successful project with promising results in latter years regarding the actual number of reds. As well as the important conservation work carried out by the Trust and partners, it also encourages people to support the project by reporting Red Squirrel sightings in their local area.  In the financial year 2017/18, Northumberland Wildlife Trust received approximately £13,000 in donations towards the project.

 

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust

We would like to send a thank you to Folk Horror Revival for their kind contribution to our Help the Hedgehog appeal last year.

 

A recent poll voted the hedgehog to be Britain’s most popular species with the public, but numbers of this once common animal have declined seriously in recent years due to the reduction of hedgerows, changes in agricultural practices and changes to suburban gardens and there are now thought to be less than a million left in the UK.

 

Our campaign was launched by renowned wildlife expert and hedgehog fan Hugh Warwick and successfully delivered several hedgehog-focused initiatives including some habitat work, restoring hedgerows and urban woodland; raising awareness among gardeners of the benefits they derive from hedgehogs and how to encourage them; installing hedgehog-friendly fencing at one of our nature reserves (with gaps underneath to allow hedgehogs in and out) and a citizen science project to spot and record hedgehogs.

 

Below a SRWT ecologist is setting a hedgehog tunnel to record the nocturnal wanderings of an urban hedgehog – basically a tunnel containing an ink pad and a sheet of paper. And on the right, what was found the following morning!

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Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Thank you for your support of our Pollinators Appeal in 2016. This appeal was successfully concluded and the funds raised were used to support a variety of work aimed at protecting the habitats needed by these essential insects. For example:

  • We have been working with a local landowner to convert arable land to a wildflower meadow to provide additional nectar sources for bees and other insects.
  • We are campaigning for an outright ban on harmful pesticides (particularly neonicotinoids) which have been shown to disorientate and confuse bees seeking food.
  • We now manage over 50 nature reserves, including meadows, heathland and downland, all part of the essential mix of habitats our landscape requires to support a wide range of insects and pollinators.
  • We hope to inspire others to support wildlife too. Simply planting bee-friendly flowers can support pollinators and can make a big difference even in a small space whether that’s a garden, allotment or window box.

 

Our current appeal has turned our attention to the protection of the marine environment. We are raising match funding for a Heritage Lottery Funded project called Secrets of the Solent. We want to vastly improve local awareness and appreciation for our seas and are looking to tackle and improve issues like plastic pollution and habitat damage. We will do this by working with local people and businesses in a variety of different ways. You can find out more here: http://www.hiwwt.org.uk/SecretsoftheSolent

Devon Wildlife Trust

The River Otter Beaver Trial crowdfunding appeal has concluded and raised just over £30,000 from more than 600 donors, which we feel is a fantastic result for the project. We are extremely grateful to Folk Horror Revival for their generous donation that formed part of this fundraising effort. Those donations helped to boost our other fundraising from individuals, corporate supporters, and charitable trusts – all of which have made a massive difference to the work with beavers, local landowners and communities. An overview of the project’s current status is given below, and please also see the photos attached.

 

  • The River Otter Beaver Trial (ROBT) is now about two-thirds through its five year duration, and is indicating that the return of beavers to the English landscape can be carried out successfully and with generally positive impacts on the communities and wildlife that occupy the valley.
  • The beaver population is in a healthy state and growing steadily, with approximately 26 beavers living in eight family groups. The number of territories suggests that the larger family groups have dispersed and separated, and young pairs are forming new territories. They are still causing relatively few conflicts, with those that occur being mitigated successfully using techniques widely used elsewhere. Landowners are constructive and open-minded in almost all cases, which enables techniques to be trialled and refined, and experience gained.
  • Public interest in the project and beaver ecology remains high. This is now a major element of the trial, which we believe helps to prepare the way for other projects in the future, locally and nationally. In total, since the start of the Trial we have given 170 presentations to approximately 10,700 people, an additional 40 guided walks along the River Otter to about 1,000 people, and a further 52 walks around the Enclosed Beaver Project in West Devon to around 500 people.
  • For more details, please see our website at www.devonwildlifetrust.org/river-otter-beavers.

 

Devon Wildlife Trust are also currently operating two other appeals:

  • The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat project is making good progress with its aim of reversing the decline of this nationally threatened species, working with landowners and communities to create more bat-friendly habitat and raise awareness of the public can help Greater Horseshoes. See http://devonbatproject.org/ for more details.
  • The Freshwater Pearl Mussel project is a partnership project helping to conserve this rare and endangered species that is easily-overlooked, but vital species for our rivers’ health. The work involves a captive breeding programme that is showing promising results so far, as well as river restoration and engagement of local communities. See www.devonwildlifetrust.org/freshwater-pearl-mussel-project for more details.

On behalf of all my colleagues at these various Wildlife Trusts, thank you again for your wonderful support of these projects. There is such an incredible variety of critical work within this list that simply wouldn’t be possible without support such as yours.

Best wishes,Sam

 Sam Gee

Individual Giving Support Officer – The Wildlife Trusts
Thank You very much to all the Revivalists who have bought our books. Other great titles are in production / planning. Again we will continue to support the Wildlife Trusts through their sale.

To donate directly to the Trusts please visit here.
To buy our books please visit here.

Toll Booths and Black lakes – The birth of a new Folk Horror film maker

Last year I was very privileged to be invited to the Fear in the Fens Festival as a guest speaker to present ` Otherworldly – an introduction to Folk Horror.’ As a part of that event there was screening of several amateur short films with a Folk Horror thread running through their themes and atmospheres. The best of this crop was the outstanding, spooky and tense `Toll Booth’. On my way home from this event due to railway works there was a bumpy bus ride along dark unfamiliar Norfolk roads and lanes during which I had the pleasure of chatting to the director of Toll Booth – Martin Stocks.

Since then I have kept an eye out for Martin and his work and it came as no surprise

when I saw Toll Booth picking up award after award at multiple film festivals. So far it had won 6 awards including the Gold Award for Best Thriller at LA Shorts Award; and Best Screenplay at Canada International Film Festival as well as being nominated for the Yorkshire Film Award at Leeds International Film Festival – making it eligible for the BAFTAS and Oscars!

The film is focused on Terry on his first night as the keeper of an isolated toll booth which is seemingly haunted by the fact that his predecessor disappeared from his post in mysterious circumstances.

Boredom – it is by no means a busy booth – starts to play on Terry’s mind and eventually he steps out into the mist to investigate and explore his new surroundings. However isolated as he is in this remote eerie landscape Terry oHostarts to get the feeling that there’s something out there lurking in the surrounding fog…something sinister and possibly otherworldly. The paranoid loneliness of the toll booth seems preferable however to the unnerving uncertainty of what is outside the protection of its flimsy clapboard walls.

Each customer who comes to pay their toll seem poised to be a terrifying new twist and each one adds to the nerve wracking tension…….until…


Black Lake

Somehow, whilst touring Toll Booth to film festivals around the globe, Martin has found time to start work on a very adventurous and ambitious project indeed – an animated short thriller called Black Lake.

….A man wakes in a dark, foggy, beautiful, yet hostile world after causing a fatal car crash. He navigates this place, initially spellbound by its stunning ethereal nature, and its pitch black lake with small floating stars. Dread quickly sets in as he realises the malevolent dangers lurking beneath the surface of this half-dead world. He is forced to confront his darkest fears and face the ultimate sacrifice to escape…..

Over to Martin –

“For this dark and compelling story, we are creating a starkly beautiful yet hostile world that our protagonist is thrown into. This project explores the concept of purgatory in a different and surprising way. It is also a taut narrative that will grab viewers by the throat and not let up until the end credits. We aim to produce a visually stunning thriller which will leave you breathless.
There is a multi-talented animation team on board to achieve my ambitious vision. This film will act as a proof of concept for a feature version that we are developing. as I think the script is one of the best things I’ve written. It explores complex themes like guilt, isolation and redemption – and creates a beautiful visual world. With the animation team we have in place I’m really excited to see them realise this stunning world. This film is also a big stepping stone for me as a director looking to move into feature films. Producing this with a proper budget will help me create a beautiful, compelling and touching film…… The success of Toll Booth has shown that I can produce films that engage with audiences and gain critical recognition. I want this film to be so good that it cannot be ignored by the industry and it helps my team get the exposure, recognition and opportunities they deserve.”

All of this vision needs support so if you want to help Martin and the team see their vision come to life there are options and rewards for those wishing to donate and be a part of an exciting project….

You can watch a trailer and read more about the project by following this link.

About the team:

This is the follow-up to Martin Stocks’ (writer/director) short thriller Toll Booth. This has won 6 awards including, Best Thriller at LA Shorts Awards and Best Screenplay at Canada International Film Festival. It was nominated for The Yorkshire Film Award at BAFTA and Oscar-qualifying Leeds International Film Festival. A feature version is in development.

James Wren is producing, having made several feature films. The Man You’re Not features Reece Sheersmith and Joanna Lumley, and recently premiered at East London Film Festival. He also produced short horror/comedy The Monster with Film London, which screened at over 50 festivals and won numerous awards.

Gabhriela Swan Gabhriela is a London-based Illustrator, Designer and Concept Artist whose creative practice takes many forms. From environment visualisation and character design for film to animation and fashion. Easily-identifiable by their trademark ethereal aesthetic, her illustrations have been recognised by major industry brands from both fashion and film including The Mill, Digital Arts Magazine, Ted Baker and Paul Smith. Her sensitivity to project narratives and ability to communicate stories by new and innovative means has generated commissions given her mysterious, often supernatural imagery, evident across all projects, media and disciplines.

 

Sharron Kraus – The Pilgrim Interview

After John Pilgrim’s most insightful interview with Phil and Layla from Hawthonn, he has been in touch with Folk Horror Revival favourite Sharron Kraus to chat about her inspirational new album, her enchanting novella Hares in the Moonlight and Folk Horror’s  revival, as well as talking about the upcoming Swansongs event at the Black Swan in York on May 12th. Anyway, I shall leave the floor clear for Sharron and John to guide us through the mist.

 

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John Pilgrim: You are a good friend of Folk Horror Revival, having appeared on stage at the 2016 event at the British Museum and at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield last year. What do you make of the revival of interest in folk horror which is taking place more generally? What do you think accounts for this and do you have thoughts on how this might continue to develop?

 

Sharron Kraus: The question of why there’s now an upsurge of interest in folk horror is an interesting one but I’m probably not best qualified to answer it, as to me the real question is what’s taken everyone else so long?! If I were to speculate wildly about why folk horror is gaining in popularity now, though, I’d guess that it’s something to do with the fact that the world has recently become a darker, more chaotic place.

 

John Pilgrim: A deep spiritual connection with the landscape permeates much of your work.  What were the formative experiences for you in connecting to the landscape and how has your connection and awareness changed over the years?

 

Sharron Kraus: I loved insects and trees as a child and forests have always been special places for me. I spent a year in Aberystwyth as a student and the landscape of Mid Wales cast a spell on me. For years after leaving there the kind of landscapes I’d found there appeared in my dreams. The first time I took LSD I was in a copse just outside Oxford with a couple of friends. We spent hours in what felt like an enchanted land and afterwards, though the vividness of the trip wore off, the things I’d discovered never left me. It feels like there are new layers to my experience of landscape being added all the time.

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John Pilgrim: Your album Pilgrim Chants and Pastoral Trails has been described as inhabiting “an an eerie and wonderful world, somewhere between eisteddfod and witches’ sabbat” . and as being “suffused with a lovingly melancholic sense of place”. How did this album come about?

 

Sharron Kraus: I visited Mid Wales, after years of not having been back there and my heart swelled with love for the place. I drove up through the Elan Valley, stopping and walking here and there, and wherever I stopped I had a tantalising sense of there being music just out of earshot. I stayed with friends and told them how I was feeling and they diagnosed a case of ‘hiraeth’, which is a Welsh word meaning something like homesickness or deep longing for somewhere. I decided to move to Mid Wales and try to listen to the land and draw out its music. At the time I thought that what I was doing was only possible because of the ‘magic’ of the place, but the way of working that I developed – that kind of listening and opening up to the place – became something I could then apply to other things, working on different projects. Two collaborations I’ve worked on since then – one with poet Helen Tookey and one with writer Justin Hopper – have involved the same kind of ‘listening’ to the text and responding musically to it.

 

John Pilgrim: One of your songs is ‘Blodeuwedd’ which I am sure must derive from the Mabinogi – the earliest prose stories in Britain. Can you tell us more about your interest in this mythology?

 

Sharron Kraus: I read the Mabinogi whilst I was living in Wales and loved the fact that some of the settings in the stories were actual places around me – that made obvious the magic in the land I was living in. I found the stories confusing at first – they’re very condensed and seem to require unlocking – and my way in was through writing songs about the stories or characters I wanted to gain some understanding of. As well as Blodeuwedd, the woman conjured out of flowers, I wrote about Branwen, the Welsh princess who’s married to Matholwch, King of Ireland, and who trains a starling to take a message to her brother Bran in Wales,   Efnisien, the troublemaker who starts a war between the Welsh and Irish, kills his own nephew by throwing him in the fire, then redeems himself somewhat by sacrificing his life to save his countrymen. I was writing about the characters in the stories, but also about my own experiences living in Wales, and about eternal themes found in the stories – like the plight of the migrant forced to seek work in a foreign land.

 

John Pilgrim: You have recently published ‘Hares in the Moonlight’, a tale of magic and adventure for readers aged 8 to 12, in the tradition of Alan Garner and Susan Cooper. What prompted you to follow this tradition in writing for this particular age group?

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Sharron Kraus: I wrote ‘Hares’ for children of good friends of mine and wrote a story I thought they would enjoy. I didn’t exactly decide to write in a tradition, but was influenced by the writers and stories I’d enjoyed as a child, including Garner and Cooper. I was keen to write about magic in a way that conveyed something true, which is what I think the best magical children’s writing does. I think this is something children’s fiction shares with folk horror: both of these things try to convey something of the mysteriousness, weirdness or magic of the world we live in.
John Pilgrim: You spoke on ‘Art as Alchemy’ at the ‘Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult’ conference in London in 2016. Recognising that this is complex subject, can you say something about how you see art as a form of alchemy. How does this thinking apply to your artistic practice and day-to-day life?

 

Sharron Kraus: The basic idea is that through art we can take suffering, pain and darkness and transmute them into something golden. The way the crucible of creativity does this is one of the things I think of as true magic – not supernatural magic, but just our ability to take chaos and form something from it – the way we make something out of nothing. That’s a very short answer; for a fuller one, there’s a podcast of the talk I gave at that conference here: https://soundcloud.com/highbrowlowlife/sharron-kraus-ru-podcast.

 

John Pilgrim: Joy’s Reflection is Sorrow, your new album, will be released on Sunstone Records in June. What themes have you been exploring in this recording and what are the points of continuity and discontinuity with your previous work?

 

Sharron Kraus: Most of the songs on the new album were written in the year my Dad died, and the wider world started to edge its way towards darkness, so death and darkness are pretty central. The chorus of one song asks the question “What can we do when darkness falls; what can we do when evil calls?” and I think the album is my attempt to answer that question. I guess it’s a question that’s been there implicitly in my work for a long time but that came up to the surface on this one. Sonically this is probably the most poppy album I’ve recorded – kind of baroque-folk-pop. I think that’s partly due to my decision to try to write in standard tuning and using verse-chorus song structures more than I’d normally do. Maybe it’s also partly because the world got darker and I wanted to add some light.

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John Pilgrim: You will be playing at the Swansongs event at the Black Swan – a haunted medieval public house in York – on 12 May. What might people expect and do you think the venue might influence your performance?

 

Sharron Kraus: Playing in an atmospheric venue always adds something and the darker and spookier the better! I’ll be playing a mix of songs and semi-improvised instrumental pieces with Guy Whittaker joining me on drums and percussion. We may have a special guest with us and whip up some Rusalnaia magic too!

www.sharronkraus.com

Sharron will playing at our Swansongs event at the Black Swan in York on May 12th alongside Hawthonn and Sarah Dean. To buy tickets for this intimate evening visit the link below, but remember tickets are very limited and we would advise pre-booking to ensure admission.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swansongs-tickets-44059576379

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