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The Serpent Stone: Between Two Worlds

Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport

Between two Worlds: The Tibetan Black Hat dancers. Mysteries within mysteries.

Not in the flesh exactly, but what are the chances of two presenters scheduled for Maryport’s 11th LitFest both independently including photographs of the mysterious Tibetan Black Hat dancers? Colin Dixon’s incredible photographs of his time in Tashi Llunpo Monastery in India will be on display at Senhouse Roman Museum, the location of the Festival, whose theme this year is The Serpent Stone; Between Two Worlds.

Cham dancer,Tashi Lhunpo

The exhibition will include an extraordinary photograph of a Black Hat dancer spinning so fast he seems to disappear, while author and doctor Julie Carter will be launching her first poetry collection ‘Is it Serious…’ which ranges from physics, through philosophy to love poetry, includes a photograph of the Black Hat dancers, which have for so long intrigued the West.

The ‘boutique’ weekend festival is once more attracting a fascinating range of events across the arts scene in Cumbria and beyond, with the overall theme The Serpent Stone: Between Two Worlds, following the tradition of focusing on an artefact in the collection, and spinning it outwards from there.

The Serpent Stone

The Serpent Stone is possibly the most mysterious artefact in the Museum’s collection, a strange phallic object possibly a grave marker. With its head looking both ways it stands between the civilised world of the Romans and the world of the ancient Britons, between life and death.

Speakers will include novelist and travel writer Mark McCrum who will be talking about the Dark Art of Murder, with his novels on Murder at the LitFest, and Mark will be leading a workshop on memoir, following his highly successful Guardian workshops.

Cumbrian photographer Colin Dixon will be leading a photography workshop on the Friday, as the festival diversifies this year into more inter-arts events.

Marie-Elsa Bragg

Marie-Elsa Bragg has agreed to open the Festival on Friday night, and she will talk about her writing life. She has a new novel due out this year, ‘Sleeping Letters’. The organisers hope also to have the Food Editor of the Observer, Allan Jenkins, whose two powerful books ‘Plot 29’ and ‘Morning’ have proved so popular with readers. Debut Cumbrian author Julie Carter will be appearing with her successful book about fell running ‘Running the Red Line’ as well as her new poetry collection.

Biographer Kathleen Jones will be appearing with her new biography on Catherine Cookson, bringing together her two previous books, and also fascinating new material. Author Angela Locke, who is the Co-Organiser of the Festival, will be talking about her new book for children and adults: ‘Mrs Mullett and the Cloak of Gaia’, the sequel to the much loved ‘Mr Mullett Owns a Cloud’, about an old fell farmer who is given a cloud by the King of the Gods, first published in 1982, serialised and republished by Cumbia Life Books.

Rob and Harriet Fraser

Harriet and Rob Fraser will be discussing their long-term project ‘Somewhere – Nowhere’, in film, poetry and installation. Susan Allen, Outreach Officer for the Wordsworth Trust will talk about the Wordsworths’ awareness of ‘other worlds’, while The Theatre by the Lake in Keswick will run a script writing workshop, and Cumbrian poets featured in the new Handstand poetry collection’ This Place I Know’ will read on Sunday evening to close the Festival, introduced by author and poet Grevel Lindop.

The Festival is funded by an Arts Council Project Grant, an Allerdale Borough Council Events and Festivals Grant and in-kind support from the Senhouse Museum Trust.

Tickets are available from the Museum.

See the website for programme details

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