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Katharine Maltwood and the Creation of the Glastonbury Zodiac

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St Benedict's Church

Benedict Street

Glastonbury

BA6 9NB

United Kingdom

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Temple of the Stars: Katharine Maltwood and the Creation of the Glastonbury Zodiac

"We need not believe that the Glastonbury legends are records of facts; but the existence of those legends is a very great fact": the words of Edward Freeman, one of the great Victorian historians. People have been debunking Glastonbury's legends for centuries, but that doesn't stop them sprouting up again, like mushrooms, and their shape is always shifting. Just this year, the BBC adapted the story of the Christmas-flowering Glastonbury Thorn to suit the needs of a programme about Easter.

In a town like Glastonbury, where visitors come looking for difference and unusual ideas are commonplace, conventional history can be hard to come by. The Glastonbury Antiquarian Society fills that gap, but this doesn't mean that its members aren't interested in the phenomena that have made the town so famous. Indeed, the society has been addressing Glastonbury’s traditions, their content, origins and evolution, ever since its inception in 1886. This little conference brings together people of varying backgrounds to bring their insights and expertise to look at one of Glastonbury's most colourful mythographers.

Tickets £10 in advance + booking fee, £12 on the door. Refreshments included. Doors open at 1:30 and we'll be starting promptly at 2:00 so don't be late.

Speakers:

Adam Stout: A View Over Avalon

Dr Adam Stout is a cultural historian and archaeologist who has long been fascinated by the frontier between fact and fiction, legend and history. He has been writing, lecturing and publishing about 'the idea of Glastonbury' since 2007.

Glastonbury, where in the Middle Ages even the very soil was seen as sacred, has long had the reputation for being a place of deep and hallowed antiquity, a point of stability in a world of change. Around a hundred years ago the town began to attract the attention of a new breed of believers and idealists whose enthusiasm for Glastonbury was much boosted by the psychic turmoil that followed the First World War. Their interest in 'deep time' was matched by the new wave of scientific archaeologists, who sought to place the war's horrors in a much longer context, but the 'Avalonians' sought a more mystical understanding of humanity's purpose and how to heal its wounds. This talk puts Katharine Maltwood in the context of some ideas about Glastonbury and the ancient past that were being floated in her day.

Tim Hopkinson-Ball: The Mathematical Imagination: Frederick Bligh Bond and the Glastonbury Zodiacs.

Dr Tim Hopkinson-Ball is Chairman of the Glastonbury Antiquarian Society. Having read Theology and religious studies at university, his principal interest is the history and psychology of religion in relation to Glastonbury. Biographer of Frederick Bligh Bond, he has written and lectured on various aspects of Glastonbury’s religious and alternative history.

Of all the Avalonians, it is perhaps Frederick Bligh Bond who is least understood today. Not only did he initiate excavations at Glastonbury Abbey and design iconic Glastonbury landmarks, such as the War Memorial and Chalice Well cover, but his involvement in the town gave impetus to the early twentieth-century ‘Avalonian’ phenomena. While his automatic writing and the ‘Company of Avalon’ have gained a certain notoriety, it was Bond’s exploration of mathematics and geometry, fused with Glastonbury’s legends and a personal spiritual quest, which make Bond such a compelling, yet contradictory figure. In this talk, Bond’s creative contribution to Glastonbury’s evolving legends will be addressed and his influences on the work of his contemporaries, especially Katherine Maltwood, will be explored.

Yuri Leitch: Katharine's Family

Yuri Leitch is a professional artist and author. He studied Illustration at the Falmouth School of Art & Design, Cornwall, during the early 1990s, and lived in Glastonbury for the past eighteen years. He is a founder member of the Maltwood Moot (which is now The Katharine Maltwood Society). He is the editor of the Maltwood Moot anthology, 'Signs & Secrets of the Glastonbury Zodiac', and editor of 'The Maltwood Journal'.

Katharine Maltwood was the youngest of four children. In 1898 her two sisters, Mary and Ellen, co-eloped to the coastal town of Rye and married the Stormont brothers (Howard and Arthur) in a double wedding against their father's wishes; Katharine was twenty years old at the time.

Katharine's sister Mary, and her brother-in-law the artist Howard Gull Stormont, were prime movers in the Rye art scene. Along with their good friend, the American writer Henry James, Mary and Howard became founder members of the Rye Art Club.

Through her family connections in Rye Katharine Maltwood had the opportunity of learning about landscape effigies in Glastonbury as early as 1905; as Yuri in this talk will explain; which is just one of many fascinating glimpses into Katharine Maltwood's private life that have fallen into his lap. This talk will also shine light upon her uncle Yeend Duer and the Japanese side of her family; as well as give a respectful account of meeting Katharine Maltwood's family members that are still alive today.

and special guest speaker

Martin Segger: Katherine Emma Maltwood: Artist, Antiquarian and Orientalist (1878-1961)

Professor Martin Segger is Professor Emeritus of Art History and Visual Studies, and Research Fellow at the Institute of Global Studies, University of Victoria, Canada. Until his retirement he was Curator of the Maltwood Museum of Modern Art

After studies at the London Slade School of Art and later Paris, K. E. (Sapsworth) Maltwood’s active artistic career spanned three decades of work as a sculptor. She exhibited often and widely, receiving numerous commissions. Her work was well received by the critical press. Progressively her work reflected a growing interest in the esoteric: Celtic legends, medieval French romance literature, Masonic lore, Mayan mythology, Eastern mysticism and in particular Buddhism. One consuming interest was her claim to have discovered a gigantic zodiac, a “Temple of the Stars” as she called it, formed by landscape features near Glastonbury, Somerset. After WWI and her husband’s retirement as a senior corporate executive the two spent the following twenty years travelling extensively: South America, the Middle and Far East, and North America, occasionally stopping in Victoria. This enabled the Maltwoods to develop a wide network of writers, academics and friends who shared their interests. The couple developed an extensive collection of antiques reflective of Katherine’s passion for oriental religions, and intended to be foundational for a public museum that would contain her work. In 1938 the couple finally settled permanently in Victoria where they founded and endowed the Maltwood Museum. This paper will trace her artistic career, examine the legacy of her interests in mysticism, and links to the circle of friends and acquaintances with whom she shared her beliefs.


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St Benedict's Church

Benedict Street

Glastonbury

BA6 9NB

United Kingdom

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